Batgirl: The Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 1 (1972)

Batgirl Omnibus 1

I’ve been aware of the “Barbara (Batgirl) Gordon becomes a congressperson” storyline in the seventies since Who’s Who in the DC Universe #2 in 1985—I even have an anecdote about buying the issue at age seven—but I’ve never read the arc before or even read about its details.

And now I’ve read it.

And it’s about Barbara Gordon becoming a congresswoman because Batgirl can only lock up the crooks, not keep them locked up forever. Yes, Barbara Gordon is a garbage Republican. I wonder if Chuck Dixon held that ace through Birds of Prey and never got to use it.

After an ex-boyfriend from her youth—who Barbara broke up with ten years ago but then beat up and apprehended two years ago as Batgirl—shows up at the library with an Edgar Allan Poe enthusiasm, she can’t help but hope for the best. Only it turns out he’s just after a famous manuscript she’s shown him and it crushes her confidence in the criminal justice system.

Worse, she’s been helping these crooks get parole as a librarian!

Or something. I glazed over in a combination of shock and disgust. Batgirl is a Karen.

At least as written by Frank Robbins. Though I doubt it’s going to change for decades.

There’s some hilariously dated election fraud, with the mob threatening voters to not vote for Barbara “Boots” Gordon. She’s called “Boots” initially because she’s going to give the crooks the boot, but then it’s the swamp. There’s a whole subplot about Batgirl accidentally endorsing Barbara and then Barbara apparently feeling weird about it.

The congresswoman is the last Robbins and Don Heck arc. The earlier stories in the year have Barbara going to Mexico to bust up a drug ring run by an American mobster dropped from a Dick Tracy script for being too boring. Again, Robbins is weirdly dated.

Heck’s got some good panels throughout. Not really sure his grasp of human musculature and movement is adequate, but he makes up for it well enough. His faces have personality even if they’re a little static. Oddly enough… he really can’t draw Batgirl’s boots. She’s always doing these kicks and he’s always messing up the boots.

Robbins tries the “can you spot the clue to solve the case” bit a couple more times, but with less and less enthusiasm. At one point it’s just at the end of a page, not even a cliffhanger. Though I guess Batgirl doesn’t lose as many fights in 1972. Well… wait. There are some bad losses in here.

But she wins against a killer jai alai team.

I had originally assumed these Bronze Age backups would be disposable except for the some of the art—Robbins has never been good (though he’s been better than some of the original Batgirl writers)—but there may actually be something in here for anyone writing about the characterization of women in male-written mainstream comic books of the seventies.

Though just because you can unpack it doesn’t mean it needs to be unpacked. Robbins is pretty shallow.

Thank goodness I’m through his Bronze Age Batgirl.

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