Prior to the grim'n'gritty New 52 reboot, DC Comics excelled at showcasing teamwork between superheroes. One might argue this approach led to bland team-ups between characters who had no reason to work together, except that hooking Bats and Supes into a shared title sold more books. I respectfully disagree. Sure, the deep bench of DC characters doesn't and didn't generate the psychological torment and inter-familial conflict that Marvel's roster has always thrived on. But by allowing friendships to grow, romances to develop, and families of all stripes to form over years and years of stories, DC captured something more powerful than a fight. In books that featured jerks punching the end-zone of the universe and Jokers mutilating women for the sake of shock value, DC editors, writers, and artists also captured love. With love, comes vulnerability. With vulnerability, comes humanity. And when those in costume show us how humane they can be, how much they believe in each other, then we learn how to believe in other people, too.
Nobody demonstrates that belief better than Gail Simone. I've long been a huge fan of her work; her Birds of Prey run features the greatest female friendship in comics, and her stories showcasing Barbara Gordon as Batgirl in the New 52 have been thoughtful in a variety of ways. But in her wrap-up issue on that series, released last week, she provided fans with a hello and a goodbye in a story full of friendship and vulnerability. Not only did she reintroduce Cass Cain and Stephanie Brown as future Batgirls (and her Stephanie is spot on; check out her hilarious dialogue in the picture above!), but she gave Barbara the family she's been missing since the advent of the New 52 -- a family called the League of Batgirls. Simone's run on Babs ends up with a hug, and there's no stronger note to go out on.
From the 1990s to the mid-2000s, DC believed in legacy; they believed in family, friendship, and partnership. This led to a multitude of Flashes, a string of time-traveling Supermen, and a strong set of Batgirls who believed in redemption. Family and history were not ignored in favor of high sales, nor was love undermined in favor of high concepts that petered out over months-long events. In Batgirl: Future's End, Barbara tells her League that they are Batgirls, and their carrying on of her legacy is "my greatest honor." Her words are radical in a new universe that values might over right, but things are looking bright. The new run on Batgirl will be lighter and more cheerful, and will feature a wonderful redesign of Babs' costume. Still. If I have one wish for the wider DC Universe, it's that everyone be allowed to love, sooner rather than later. Because without love, what makes any universe worth saving?
Batgirl: Future's End: Gail Simone, Writer; Javier Garron, Artist; Romulo Fajardo, Colorist; Saida Temofonte, Letterer.