It seems months ago (because it has been) that news was dropped in-story that the returned Bruce Wayne Batman's assignment for Stephanie Brown would take her to the United Kingdom – the implication was a full-blown relocation which (as Anglophile as I am) I would not be in favor of given the slow but successful building of a supporting cast in the Gotham City setting that has been accomplished. Well, now (with only a couple issues left in the series anyway, which is a separate issue so to speak) it appears that this is merely a mission. In this issue Steph exits Heathrow directly into an all-but-impromptu team-up with Beryl Hutchinson, the Squire, sidekick to the Knight, another element of the “Batmen of All Nations” that Grant Morrison brought back into continuity in the last couple of years, last seen in the wonderful little 6-issue mini-series by Paul Cornell, Knight and Squire. And madcap antics ensue as one of Britain's own rather colorful villains, the Orphan (because “he always wants some more”), steals the Greenwich Mean – which we discover is not just the standard upon which the world bases its time, but is actually a plug sealing a crack in time opened by “a nasty bit of business during the Blitz.” By stealing the Mean, Orphan freezes time so he can kill his defenseless arch-enemy, the Knight. Batgirl and Squire are caught in the effect, however, therefore are not frozen in time and are able to thwart the Orphan's dastardly plan – which makes Stephanie late for her meeting with Batman. “Care to explain...?” To be continued in Batman Incorporated #9.
It's another winner of an issue. Dang!, I'm going to miss this series. I don't think Bryan Q. Miller is currently associated with any post-Flashpoint series that's been announced. Huh-wha-? Don't let this guy go, DC! Here we're treated to, among other things, typically witty dialog (and monologue - “No, Ms. Brown, I don't care about the slap*. Uh-huh,” Stephanie mutters as she realizes she has “apparently twenty minutes to cross a city I've never been to before with someone I've never met to get to a hotel I never knew existed. … After ten hours in coach.” [Editor's note: *Check out the Bruce Wayne: The Road Home trade A.S.A.P. (the Prof's hint – Bruce had it coming)]), character development and humorous repartee between two teen heroines who have a lot in common but some real differences in their cultural backgrounds as well as their situations (Stephanie is jealous of how close a team-mate Squire is to the Knight; Beryl is jealous in her turn because Batgirl is “most certainly not a sidekick”). And the issue rounds off with a nice reduplication of the first page that by its structure conveys as well as anything could how Stephanie, tired and longing for a bit of shut-eye at the beginning of the issue, still does so but is no more likely to get it any time soon at the end.
“This is Not My Life, Part 1 of 3”
This is the first part of the last story-arc for this title before September. I was frankly a little disappointed. It's not bad. It's just not that good either. I'd had higher hopes that this title might go out on a high point, having read good things about DeConnick's writing (but never read anything by her). Everything just seemed a bit off – characterization of Kara and Lois for one, but also the art which is almost charicaturish at times [hmmm, my computer didn't balk at that “word” so maybe it is a word...], a weird blend of overly detailed – downright ugly finger-knuckles that were so prominent as to be distracting – with cartoony poses and distorted facial expressions. Maybe it will all work out in the next two issues, but ….
The plot, in a nutshell: Lois convinces Kara (as Linda “Lane” - why not just go with her existing earthly identity, Linda Lang?) to go undercover on the campus of Stanhope College (nice throwback to the pre-Crisis Supergirl) because someone is abducting students of a certain profile. Turns out (of course) the plot is deeper than the five missing students Lois knows about. Kara quickly meets a rather creepy dude who has figured out an algorithm to predict the victims, the next of course being himself, who promptly disappears.
There are a lot of potential new and quirky supporting-cast members introduced here – was this initially conceived before the “relaunch” was firmed up? And I get the feeling that given time, DeConnick could get her feet on this book. If so, maybe one reason it's just not grabbing me is that we know she's not going to get time, and it's all going to mean nothing in a couple more months.