Each month the staff at 8th Dimension Comics picks out the best book to review.
Batgirl #37: It's probably the most controversial issue of Batgirl since Gail Simone took Barbara Gordon out of the wheelchair. #37 finds Babs pursuing a fake Batgirl using a blinged out costume, hard partying instagram account, and petty theft to draw attention to herself. Eager to try and salvage her reputation, Batgirl tracks the impersonator after seeing images of herself in a wheelchair at a local art show.
The impersonator turns out to be a desperate male artist going by the name Dagger Type, whose mysterious patron laid out his plans and told him to kill Batgirl and take her place. Obviously in a medium where trans people of any kind are thin on the ground this raised the hackles of a fair number of trans comic readers.
As a cis-straight white male I have enough sense not to wander in here and try and defend the actions of Cameron Stewart, Brendan Fletcher, and Babs Tarr. The creators have already taken to social media to apologize and promise to listen hard to the stories being told by outraged and hurt fans. If you want a textbook example of how to compassionately respond to a controversy then this is probably the best you'll get.
I do see what they were going for, though. The book itself is a pretty interesting commentary on identity and more importantly the worth of a real one. The public of Burnside is happy to explore Batgirl as an icon through art, but when it comes time to have the big reveal Type was looking for they turn in disgust claiming "everything cool is always an ad". That's a very powerful message that is very relevant in this age of so much anonymous and misleading online personalities.
Maybe the creative team felt that having a man try to supplant Gordon was an interesting shake-up and twist. Heck, maybe it even is, but it was still a misstep in a book that has already done wonders for the positive portrayals of trans people in the form of Barbara's friend Alysia. The fact that Stewart and company could recover so magnificently from that misstep and still deliver a gripping read reaffirms my faith in a book I stopped reading when Simone left. Time to give Batgirl another chance, for all of us, I think.
Rating: 8 of 10More »