Set relatively soon after Bruce Wayne took up the mantle of the Batman, Batman Confidential tells the stories of Batmanâ€™s early outings.Â I first jumped on to the book at issue 17, because of the Batgirl/Barbara Gordon story being told. I am so glad that I did, and look forward to getting my hands on a TPB of the earlier issues.
Batman Confidential #17 and #18 tell the story of Batgirlâ€™s first encounter with Catwoman. There isnâ€™t a Batman to be found in these issues, and when weâ€™re dealing with one of my favorite characters, Batgirl, the less Batman the better.
At the end of issue 17, Batgirl was faced with a nasty dilemma: follow Catwoman in to the Gotham Hedonist Societyâ€™s meeting, starkas, or high tail it out of there. She knew that Catwoman didnâ€™t think she would follow. She thus knew she had to go in there.
Issue 18 starts just as a million comic geeks were hoping it would â€“ with a very naked Barbara Gordon, holding her cape in front of her to cover herâ€¦ pretties. She finally surrenders her cape, and with nothing but her mask for an identity, she enters in to a room full of very naked Gothamites.
Fabian Nicieza has a really firm grasp (sorry) on the character of Batgirl, and her internal dialogue is, what I believe to be, spot on. This is exemplified with a few fantastic gems in the opening pages, such as â€œIs he looking? He better be lookingâ€¦â€ referring to her â€¦ you get the picture. And on the next page, as she is pushing through a crowd of people she hastily admonishes a passerby with a â€œThat better be your fingerâ€¦â€
And through it all she is expressing her hate, her â€œpure, unadulterated, livid, vivid, justifiable hatredâ€¦â€ for Catwoman. The inner monologue is why you read this book; everything else is just the icing on top of the cake.
Within moments Batgirl has the object of her attention â€“ her father’s notebook that Catwoman has stolen â€“ and after a very naked and quick dust-up amidst Gothamâ€™s nakedist, Batgirl is out of there. We once again get a good grip (sorry) of why Batgirl was allowed to continue being Batgirl; she is feisty, well trained, and strong.
Itâ€™s obviously not long until Catwoman catches up with Batgirl, because as good as Batgirl is, Catwoman is at least her match in this arena. They end up scrapping in a garbage yard (or tip, as we call them down in Australia), with a great scene showing how to get a little puppy to drop a notebook – the answer is not threatening her with its life in front of a bunch of other dogs, as a note.
The twist, that was inevitable in a series of issues that is scheduled to run for 5 months, is that Catwoman needs â€œthe notebook to save someoneâ€™s life!â€ Barbara is unsurprisingly baffled, but doesnâ€™t have a lot of time to deal with the confusion as Catwoman is shot from a distance, by an as yet unknown assailant.
Kevin Maguireâ€™s artwork is really something to behold. However he does have a bit of trouble with faces at times, drawing some very ungainly expressions. That being said, the very first page that I am currently looking at, has a near perfect pose of Barbara â€“ yes, sheâ€™s very naked, but the biting of the lip is a small detail that, I think, perfectly sums up what she was thinking.
But apart from the previously mentioned facial expressions which tend to run 50/50 good/bad, I really love Maguireâ€™s work. It is especially fun to watch how he continually manages to cover up everyoneâ€™s naughty bits, with a raised hand here, a well positioned turn, and my favorite, a bowl of fruit â€“ in particular, a pear â€“ to cover Barbaraâ€™s butt.
All in all, Batman Confidential #18 gets 5 out of 5 for me, something I havenâ€™t done in awhile. I know the artwork doesnâ€™t necessarily score that high, but Niciezaâ€™s story and the 80% good artwork simply cannot be denied a full mark. Make sure you try and get your hands on this storyline as soon as possible; you will not regret it! And try and do it for something other than the rampant nakedness of the first 9 pages.