About two years ago, Grant Morrison did the unthinkable: he killed Bruce Wayne. Okay, okay…he sent him back in time or some weird shit. It doesn’t matter. The end result was the same. With no desire to read about a Batman who was not Bruce Wayne, I packed a suitcase and left Gotham City, vowing not to return until Bruce did. Well, the day has finally arrived, Bruce Wayne is returning to his rightful place in the here and now.
Unfortunately, a lot’s been going on in Gotham City since I left. There’s a new Batgirl. Tim Drake has abandoned the Robin identity and become Red Robin. And, who’s this mysterious new vigilante calling herself Batwoman? If I’m going to start following Bruce Wayne’s adventures again, I’d have to familiarize myself with the new status quo in the Bat-Family. With that in mind, I spent a large chunk of yesterday reading Batwoman: Elegy, as well as the first trades of Batgirl and Red Robin.
by Greg Rucka (writer) and J.H. Williams, III (artist)
We first met the modern Batwoman in the pages of 52, however a lot of her backstory wasn’t revealed until she became the featured hero in Detective Comics. Elegy collects the first seven issues of Rucka/Williams run. I have to say, of the three trades I read, this one may be my least favorite. Of course, when something like this is your least favorite thing you read in a day, it’s still a pretty damn good day.
I’m just not a fan of the whole Religion of Crime thing that DC has going on these days. And, since a lot of Batwoman’s time seems to be geared towards fighting this organization, you can understand why I didn’t completely love this trade. I did enjoy the flashbacks that explored Kate Kane’s childhood, time at West Point, and eventual transformation into Batwoman. I think Kate is a great addition to the Bat-Family, the DC Universe, and the general world of comics. I love that her dad–the Colonel–is serving as Kate’s Alfred. I’d also like to think that in her new ongoing series, Batwoman will have a werewolf sidekick.
Batgirl: Batgirl Rising
by Bryan Q. Miller (writer) and Lee Garbett (artist)
That image pretty much says it all. Former Robin and Spoiler Stephanie Brown takes over the mantle of Batgirl in a new ongoing series. While I didn’t hate Cassandra Cain (the previous Batgirl), I positively love Steph. Always have. Steph’s Batgirl is a throwback to the adventures of the first Batgirl, Barbara Gordon–and it’s fitting that Babs appears in this first trade to mentor the newest Bat. Between hiding her double life from her mom and trying to juggle being a college freshman and a costumed crimefighter, Steph’s Batgirl reminds me a lot of Spider-Man, and that’s a good thing. And, as much as I hate that little shit Damian Wayne, I love the antagonistic pseudo-sibling rivalry between Steph and the new Robin.
Red Robin: The Grail
by Chris Yost (writer) and Ramon Bachs (artist)
I love Tim Drake. He was “my Robin.” But, I guess no one can be a Boy Wonder forever. So, when Dick Grayson becomes Batman, he chooses Damian Wayne as the new Robin and tells Tim that Robin is “Batman’s student” and he sees Tim as “his equal.” Convinced that Bruce Wayne is still alive, Tim becomes Red Robin and goes on a globetrotting quest to prove that his former mentor isn’t actually dead. While Tim adjusts to his new identity (“What should I call these things? They look like ammo belts. Utility straps?”), he must decide whether or not to accept a deal with Batman’s greatest enemy–Ra’s al Ghul.
Red Robin: The Grail shows Tim using his strengths–his intellect and keen detection skills–but it also shows him struggling with maturity, as both a person and as a hero. With Bruce returning, I’m not sure what role Red Robin will play in the Bat-Family, but I’m excited to find out.