Monday, November 24, 2008

Robin/Batgirl: Fresh Blood TPB ( Robin #132-133, Batgirl #58-59)

Overall- So, this TPB chronicles 4 issues from the "Robin" and "Batgirl" comic books. These comics come directly after the events of Batman: War Games, so since I just read those TPB's, I figured I'd give this TPB a shot.

This TPB starts off with Robin attending the funeral of his one time girlfriend, Spoiler. While there, Tim Drake(Robin)tells Bruce Wayne(I hope I don't have to tell you who that is!)that he wants to get away from Gotham City for a while and has decided to move down to Nightwing's old haunt, Bludhaven. Bruce gives Tim the OK, and Robin heads to Bludhaven and sets up shop.

Batman being Batman, sends Batgirl to keep an eye on Robin down in Bludhaven. Robin begins to hear rumors that Blockbuster, the former crime lord of Bludhaven, has come back from the dead, so Robin decides to look into these stories. While tracking information, Robin runs into one of Nightwing's old foes, Shrike, and takes a vicious beating from Shrike. Before Shrike can deliver the killing blow to Robin, Batgirl arrives to make the save. Batgirl easily takes down Shrike, and Batgirl and Robin decide to work together to investigate the Blockbuster rumors.

The two heroes eventually track down the location they believe Blockbuster to be at, only to discover that Blockbuster WAS still dead, and that his body was stolen and stuffed by the Penguin, who had managed to organize the criminal element in Bludhaven behind him. The 2 heroes are subsequently attacked by Penguin's massive forces, but manage to hold their own, until Penguin has his henchman, Gas Bag, knock out Robin and Batgirl with some kind of, you guessed it, gas.

The 2 heroes awaken tied up securely, sitting back to back. Penguin decides to unmask the two of them, and take pictures, which he could then sell for big money to the media. Before he can preform this act, some of the other criminals begin to offer money for the opportunity to be photographed unmasking Robin and Batgirl. Penguin decides to auction off the privilege, and winds up selling the opportunity to some mobster who was bidding over the phone. The winning mobster can't make it to Bludhaven for about an hour, so Penguin decides to have Robin and Batgirl battle to the death while his goons bet on the winner.

Robin and Batgirl do battle, and Batgirl purposely loses, as per Robin's unspoken plan. Penguin, suspecting a trick tells Robin to shoot Batgirl to prove she was really dead. Robin complies, shooting Batgirl in the shoulder. Penguin checks on Batgirl, and discovers she isn't breathing. As Penguin prepares to unmask Batgirl, she headbutts him, and Robin and Batgirl prepare to take the fight to the mobsters once again. The mobsters decide to turn on Penguin, who they feel rigged the fight, and attack him to get their money back. Robin and Batgirl leave, and upon returning to Robin's base have a heart to heart talk, and decide that even though they work well together, they'd both prefer to fight crime apart...

I didn't like this TPB for a couple of reasons, the first and foremost would have to be Batgirl. Now, I can honestly say that I really don't know that much about Batgirl, and have only read about her in a handful of comics. However, from everything I have read about her, she's some kind of unstoppable fighting machine, who has absolutely NO known weaknesses. I personally don't care for unbeatable heroes, because their stories lack any real excitement, since an unstoppable hero can never lose. Every super hero has SOME weakness. For example, Superman is weakened by magic and kryptonite. Wolverine was majorly messed up by Magneto, and would often lose battles thanks to his uncontrollable temper. Name a hero, and I'll point out a defeat, or flaw.

Batgirl seems to have NO weakness. She easily dispatches of any foe who is in her way. Robin seems to be nothing more then an unnecessary nuisance when Batgirl is present, because she is written in such a way that nothing and nobody can stop her. Hell, when Gas Bag gasses Robin and Batgirl, she continues to fight long after Robin passes out. Next she is shot, which doesn't even cause her to flinch, then she is shown to be able to stop her heartbeat and breathing. I mean come on here! Since for all intents and purposes, Batgirl is an invincible force of nature, I don't know why Batman doesn't just kick back in the Batcave and let Batgirl take care of business in Gotham. She's portrayed WAY to powerfully here, and for me that took away from the story. Robin was pretty useless here, sure he came up with the plan to escape when they were tied up, but quite frankly, I really don't think Batgirl needed Robin's plan, she had already proven that she couldn't be stopped.

Besides the unstoppable force that is Batgirl, much of this story didn't make sense. Why would Robin and Batgirl decide to fight to the death for Penguin and the other mobsters amusement??? Were the mobsters so stupid that they didn't realize Robin and Batgirl would have some kind of escape plan? Why did Robin and Batgirl even bother to go through with the rigged fight when they had proven that they could easily take out all of the goons present except for Gas Bag? Why not just eliminate Gas Bag right away then take out the other useless mobsters? This story REALLY had a lot of holes in it. I can overlook some things, but there were just too many stupid instances that occurred in these comics. Why was Penguin going to unmask Batgirl after he believed her to be dead? He had already sold that privilege to somebody else, so why was he now suddenly going to unmask her? WAY to many logic gaps in this story for me to fully enjoy it.

So, what did I learn here? Penguin is a really boring villain, Robin really sucks as a fighter, and Batgirl is a combination of Superman, Thor, Wolverine, Captain America, Batman, and Wonder Woman if they were combined into one body and given a speech impediment. Needless to say, I really didn't enjoy this TPB, since the story would have worked much better if it revolved around either one hero or the other. Why was Robin even there? Batgirl would have had a much easier time of things if he was omitted from the story altogether. Anyway, for an overall score for this TPB, I'd have to go with a 4 out of 10. Unless you are a diehard Batgirl fan, or like to see Robin getting beat up every couple of panels, skip this TPB.

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