The ZONE genre worldwide books movies
the science fiction
fantasy horror &
mystery website
 
 
home  articles  profiles  interviews  essays  books  movies  competitions  guidelines  issues  links  archives  contributors  email

Batgirl: Destruction's Daughter
Andersen Gabrych
Titan graphic novel £12.99

review by Jonathan McCalmont

Batgirl has always been something of a joke character, a sop to the ideals of women's equality from the famously misogynistic comics industry. While the Batgirl character may be most closely associated Barbara Gordon, the niece of Commissioner Gordon who appeared in the 1960s' Batman TV show as a fake redhead on a motorbike, there have actually been a number of different Batgirls over the years. However, only Cassandra Cain ever got her own comic.

Running from 2000 to 2006 (Destruction's Daughter being a collection of the last few episodes), the new Batgirl was a different creature entirely to the society glamour-pusses that had previously taken up the role. Cassandra Cain was bred to be an assassin, rather than being able to talk, Cain was able to predict her opponent's next move in combat making her practically unbeatable. However, when called upon to actually kill someone, Cassandra realised what she was and fled, living on the streets until she was recruited by former Batgirl Barbara Gordon (who has since been crippled and become a combination of hacker and spymaster) and taken under Batman's wing.

Gradually, Cassandra started to learn to speak, causing her to lose her predictive abilities. In an attempt to regain her amazing fighting skills, Cassandra submitted to train under martial artist Lady Shiva in return for the promise that one day they would fight a duel to the death. As this collection begins, Cassandra has learned that her father is assassin David Cain but, understandably, she now wants to know who her mother is. Destruction's Daughter chronicles Cassandra Cain's attempts to discover her true origins and the identity of her mother, a discovery that will lead to her giving up the cowl and walking away from her life as Batgirl.

Boasting a large artistic team, Destruction's Daughter has a noticeably manga-influenced style. Clearly taking its cues from Cassandra's Asian heritage as well as the martial-arts focus of the action, the book is colourful, lively and almost entirely composed of extended combat scenes. This proves unfortunate however as despite boasting some excellent artwork, the comic's fight scenes are virtually impossible to follow. Many writers attempt to get around the fact that comics are forced to depict action as a serious of still images but coupling the images with a blow-by-blow internal monologue from one of the characters. Consider, for example, The Dark Knight Returns with its combat scenes full of text bubbles as Batman shares his tactical decisions with the readers. However, for whatever reason, writer Andersen Gabrych has chosen not to go down this route resulting in this comic feeling a bit like trying to piece together a martial arts movie from a series of Polaroid pictures.

This would not be a problem if so much of the book were not devoted entirely to fistfights. Hidden within these pages is a story of a woman who was bread to kill but came to realise that not only was killing wrong but that life was about so much more than violence and revenge. Gabrych acknowledges this fact by putting Cassandra through an unbelievably short and unconvincing love story and by giving her a few friends before stripping her of them and suggesting that actually, life is all about spandex and leather-clad pneumatic babes kicking the shit out of each other.

While this collection may be entertaining enough and it might well provide a nice sense of closure for people who have followed the entire series, it is also a comic with no ambitions or intellectual aspirations at all. It really is lowbrow battling babes all the way. We are a long way from the likes of Neil Gaiman's Sandman or even Frank Miller's various Batman stories. This collection really is not worth checking out if you are not a serious fan of the series and even if you are then surely there are more productive ways to spend your time than looking at hot chicks fighting.
Batgirl: Destruction's Daughter

Please support this
website - buy stuff
using these links:
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com
Send it
W.H. Smith

home  articles  profiles  interviews  essays  books  movies  competitions  guidelines  issues  links  archives  contributors  email
copyright © 2001 - 2006 Pigasus Press