Batgirl: The Flood


By Bryan Q. Miller, Lee Garbett, Pere Perez & various (DC Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-4012-3142-2

Batman has gathered young allies about him since the second year of his all-consuming crusade: adopting assorted waifs or strays and training them to be the best that they can be, all for the greater good of his beloved GothamCity.

Stephanie Brown, daughter of C-list bad-guy Cluemaster, began her costumed crime-busting career as the Spoiler, secretly scotching Daddy Dearest’s schemes before graduating to a more general campaign against the city’s underworld.

Eventually, she undertook a disastrous stint as the fourth Robin: a tenure which provoked a brutal gang war which devastated Gotham and ostensibly caused her own demise under torture at the red hands of psychopathic mob boss Black Mask.

When Stephanie returned to Gotham after months in self-imposed exile, she overcame incredible obstacles – the greatest of which was her former Bat-family’s deep mistrust. Thus she inherited the role of Batgirl from Cassandra Cain, a former assassin who had revived the role after her own predecessor was crippled and forced to retire…

Barbara Gordon, the computer crusader known as Oracle, is the daughter of Gotham City’s Police Commissioner. Her own valiant vocation as Batgirl was ended after the Joker blew out her spine during one of his incomprehensible capers. Although trapped in a wheelchair, she still hungered for justice and found new ways to make a difference in a very bad world.

Reinventing herself as a cyber-world information gatherer for Batman, she wound up an invaluable resource for the entire superhero community, before putting together her own fluctuating squad of female fighters – the Birds of Prey.

She also crossed keyboards with her intellectual antithesis: a sociopathic computer hacker and ex-costumed whacko called the Calculator

Barbara, with grudging acceptance of stand-in Dark Knight Dick Grayson, then decided to mentor Stephanie as the troublesome teen attempted to combine undergraduate studies with her compulsive mission to save lives and help the helpless…

Collecting issues #9-14 of Batgirl volume 3 (from June-November 2010), this full-on action romp scripted by Bryan Q. Miller blends grim urban adventure and deadly Weird Science with infectious wry humour, as perfectly seen in the 4-part ‘Batgirl Rising: The Flood’ (illustrated by Lee Garbett, Pere Perez and inkers Jonathan Glapion, Richard Friend, Rodney Ramos, Walden Wong).

After Batgirl saves a subway train from a crazed suicide bomber, Stephanie is drawn into her mentor’s deadly ongoing cyber-war with the Calculator.

Not only does the digital desperado bear an unhealthy grudge for his past humiliations at the hands of the enigmatic Oracle, but now, since the computer crusader harbours his own estranged and wheelchair-bound daughter Wendy, turning her against him, all bets are off…

His diabolical revenge includes not only a devastating hack-attack on Oracle’s database and systems but also, using stolen alien programming code, mind-controlling thousands of citizens. The Apokolips nanites are everywhere, turning ordinary folk into savage suicide-assassins aimed at Barbara and the new Batgirl.

Either they surrender Wendy or an army of innocents will turn the city into a charnel-house…

Forced to lethal lengths to combat the Calculator’s bloody assault, Babs goes mobile but succumbs to the mind-stealing mechanoid plague, leaving Wendy to act as Stephanie’s new partner and digital quartermaster. However since the villain’s army of thralls now include brain-bound techno-zombies like Man-Bat, Catwoman and The Huntress, the task seems impossible…

Reduced to a last-ditch frontal assault Batgirl spectacularly invades the Calculator’s base, unaware that, despite being a victim of the nanovirus, Barbara has begun her own counterattack from within the vengeful villain’s own mind…

After the main event this delightful Fights ‘n’ Tights fun-fest clears the palate with a brace of one-off yarns beginning with ‘Trust’ (illustrated by Pere Perez) detailing Stephanie’s unique response to a cocked-up bank hostage-situation perpetrated by Clayface.

The grim debacle is made excessively complicated not only because the Teen Tornado’s Person of Potential Romantic Interest (Police Detective Nick Gage) is on scene, but also -since the shape-shifting charlatan is disguised as one of the imperilled customers – because Batgirl is the one holding them all captive until she can deduce who he is…

Manic insanity rounds off this chronicle with ‘Terror in the 3rd Dimension’ (Garbett & Trevor Scott) as a civilian Girl’s Night Out with BFF Supergirl goes crazily wrong when a campus science experiment goes “boink!” and 24 Draculas from an all-night classic movie show are materialised to run riot through the city.

With obviously no peace for the wicked-hot, the World’s Finest Blondes have their work cut out doing a passable imitation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer before things return to any semblance of “normal”…

With a stunning cover gallery by Stanley “artgerm” Lau, this collection offers that rarest of modern delights for comics fans: complication-free, easily accessible thrills, chills, spills and fun, fun, fun!!!

So get some before the next angst-storm drags us all down again…
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