Friday, April 21, 2017
Batgirl's parents were killed drag-racing? There's a Fast and the Furious crossover in there somewhere.
While I'm glad to have this issue--it's a pretty iconic cover--I can't help but think finding the concluding chapter might be a pain: from 1998, Legends of the DC Universe #10, "Folie a Deux, part one" Written by Kelley Puckett, pencils by Terry Dodson, inks by Kevin Nowlan. Fun fact: I took two years of French in high school, and don't speak a word of it, so I had to look up folie a deux...shoot, I took a lot of psych in college, you'd have thought I'd know that from one or the other.
This was the first part of a two-issue Batgirl story, and opens with 11 silent pages split between Batgirl stopping a mugger--and not being above grabbing a dropped gun, although she doesn't use it--and a flashback to what seemingly starts as an assault, but is just a guy picking up what might be his wife, then drag racing two jerks at a stoplight, then getting hit by a truck. In the morgue, a recognizable (if not any younger-looking) Jim Gordon looks at the bodies toe-tagged Roger and Thelma Gordon, Barbara's parents. Since it's a silent sequence, it's easy to just flip through, but there are a few subtle clues in there: Roger putting a flask in his jacket, then as he puts his hand over Thelma's mouth, you notice the wedding band. Thelma's hair in a bun and glasses is reminiscent of Barb's as a librarian, while Roger reminds me of a less-thick Flass from Year One. Still, you get the notion that Barbara got her daredevil tendencies from her dad, and her brains from her mom.
Raised by Jim, as Barbara goes off to college, he had something that he'd been trying to tell her but couldn't quite bring himself to. Meanwhile, while she was far more mature and studious then her peers, Barbara is treated like a child by Batman, who visits her in her dorm room (!) to tell her to quit being Batgirl. Ooh, that'll work. Barbara argues, she was 18 and could do what she wanted, but if Batman would train her, she wouldn't go out until he said she was ready. As Batman trains her on a rooftop (he would've had to meet her there, since he hadn't told her his identity) they're watched by Jim, who has no idea how to deal with this. When Barbara started missing classes, he may have accused her of being on drugs or something, even though he knew that wasn't the case. Pissed off and feeling distant from her adoptive father, Barbara still goes to meet with him at Gotham Federal Bank, but doesn't seem to notice a gentleman packing a hidden Uzi at the door...!
A lot to unpack from this issue, and the last two pages feel especially crammed story-wise. I'm not sure this was the first time Jim Gordon is shown to really know Barbara was Batgirl: I've seen a few stories where it's implied, but he may be pretending not to know. Also, is Jim Barbara's biological dad now, or has that not changed? And does the "folie a deux" of the title refer to Barbara caught up in Batman's "psychosis" of crime-fighting, or Jim caught up in Barbara's newfound vigilantism? Maybe the second part would clear that up.