How does a writer find words for all the stories he won’t get to tell? In this final issue of the current Batgirl series, Bryan Q. Miller is smart enough not to try. In bidding good-bye to this book – one of DC’s undisputed success stories of the past two years, and the saddest casualty of the upcoming relaunch – Miller ties up the story he’s been telling about Stephanie Brown. Steph confronts her father, hugs her mother, bonds with Babs, and even gets a salute from her occasional unwanted sidekick Damian Wayne. And, over seven near-wordless pages, artist Pere Perez shows a spread of Steph’s own life as Batgirl, and of other past and future lives she could be living. It’s a beautiful depiction of the way serial comic books are simultaneously infinite and finite: all that stories that seem to be told over and over, set against all the ones that never will. It’s hard to describe what makes this so moving, but I’ve flipped through this book a dozen times, and it keeps bringing me to tears. I’m sad we won’t be getting more of this title, but at the same time I’m so happy with the remarkable, and remarkably consistent, run that we got. I can’t imagine a classier way to say good-bye. Take a bow, Ms. Brown. You deserve it.
I’m a little torn over this final Miller Batgirl issue. I’m glad it got to be a proper send-off for the run, and I’m especially happy about the scene with Steph and her mother, but I also feel like it just let the plotline that we’d been following for the last little while just end abruptly, in favor of some Elseworlds-esque art pages. Well, I can’t complain too loudly, since this has been 24 issues of great comics, and even if the situation with Steph and her dad kind of fizzled for me, it’s still an enjoyable issue overall. And yeah, okay, the hallucination situation pages were actually pretty cool.
Just as everyone has their Doctor, I suppose everyone has their Batgirl. Stephanie Brown isn’t my Batgirl, Cassandra Cain is, and while not vocal about it I was disappointed when Cain was relegated to the DC dustbin in favour of a character I found a lot less interesting. Now Brown’s due the same treatment (as Barbara Gordon returns to the role) and I’m disappointed yet again. Bryan Q. Miller’s Batgirl was a case of someone hiding proof in pudding and was one of DC’s best books during its run. It ends on a high note, making us all regret yet another Batgirl binned.