Friday, July 13, 2007
Review :: Showcase Presents: Batgirl Vol 1 TP
written and/or illustrated by creators including John Broome, Neal Adams, Dick Giordano, Carmine Infantino, Gil Kane, Frank Robbins, and more
reviewed by "Sassy" Shawn Reynolds
After seeing the cover to this volume I knew I had to read it. It has Batgirl taking time out from a serious battle to re-apply her make up. Isn’t that just like a woman?
With almost 30 Showcase Presents trades in print this is the first one devoted to a female character (Marvel’s not doing much better. With almost 100 Essential trades in print there are 3 that star a female character). It reprints DC comics from 1967 to 1975 and features artists and writers such as Carmine Infantino, Neal Adams, Gil Kane, Frank Robbins, Dick Giordano and many more.
For those of you who are not familiar with Batgirl, she is Barbara (Babs) Gordon, Commissioner Gordon’s daughter. Babs is Head Librarian of the Gotham City Library by day and crime fighting vigilante by night. This PhD wielding bibliophile also has a brown belt in judo. Underneath that mousy exterior is a superhero waiting to be unleashed.
These old issues are hilarious. My feminist sensibilities should be offended but the stories are so much fun to read that I can’t help but enjoy myself. Babs is portrayed as vain and shallow and even though she is very educated she isn’t as smart as any of the male characters. Being a library assistant I also should be offended by the way librarians are represented. But again it is so comical that I can’t help but like Babs as the “plain jane” librarian. Let’s face it: that stereotype is obviously false. If you don’t believe me, check out the New York Times from Sunday July 8. There is a whole article about how librarians are hip.
I get the same kind of enjoyment out of reading these old issues as I do from watching old beach movies like “Beach Blanket Bingo.” The movies are funny, light-hearted and campy but they also cause me to step back and look at how the perception of females in the media has changed over the past 30 or 40 years. We can all laugh at it now because we know that women are more than pretty little things who are obsessed with finding a husband.
The only drawback for me is that these reprints are in black and white. But the stories are so enjoyable that I didn’t mind. And without the color you really get a sense of the line work. These guys are amazing artists.
This is great summer reading and what I call “delightfully sexist.” Plus it is over 500 pages. That is a lot of bang for your buck.