For those of you who aren’t comic book nerds, Gail Simone is one of the most prominent lady writers in comic-dom. She’s one of the best team book writers I’ve ever read, and her runs on Wonder Woman, Birds of Prey and Secret Six for DC not only updated and developed characters such as Black Canary, Huntress and Cat Man in the most delicious of ways, but she also was never afraid to touch upon the Big Issues. In fact, for those of you who remember the fantastic DC Animated Movie Wonder Woman, she was part of the writing duo that brought one of the best realisations of the amazon’s character to the screen.
Alright, some of you might say. So she’s a woman in comics. Big deal.
For a start, Simone was the ONLY female writer in the first run of the New 52. Yes. In the initial FIFTY-TWO new titles that DC launched in 2011, there was ONE female writer. How’s that for Fridge Horror?
Since 2011, DC has tepidly reached out to the other fifty percent of the world’s population and expanded the number of women writers, with Ann Nocenti and Christy Marx taking over Catwoman and Birds of Prey respectively (because that’s what women know about right? Heaven forbid a girl should start writing Batman).
There are a lot of comic book writers whose work is servely lacking, and as much as I would like to see otherwise, the girls can often write stuff just as lousy as the boys.
So Gail Simone is writing in a pretty thankless environment, and has survived DC trying to drop her ass from Batgirl, despite her run being critically acclaimed and a commercial success. And if you drop your A-Game a little, some bitch like me is right up your asshole complaining.
But Simone is a ‘fan favourite’. And you know why? Not because she has tits and is literate.
Because she is a FANTASTIC writer, and she deserves a great deal of the credit she gets.
You wouldn’t catch Simone doing a run on a team book and having characters left underdeveloped. She’d develop the shit out of them. Her storylines ensure that each character has a moment to shine.
However, the proof of her brilliance is really in her Batgirl run.
I have never, ever, ever, not once forever, liked the character of Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl. No. She’s just so irritating. Little know-it-all. I’ve tried Barbara’s Batgirl runs with an open mind- Gil Gane’s The Greatest Stories Ever Told collection and Simone’s The Darkest Reflection– but she is just so bloody annoying! Also her nickname is Babs. Babs. In a world where all women are drawn with double Zs, this is unfortunate. And she goes out with Nightwing, so… Babs and Dick.
So, grudgingly, and only because it was free and Twitter’s been squeezing about it, I picked up Batgirl issue 22 and 23, and, despite having missed about ten issues, and deliberately coming to it with an attitude of disdain and hatred, I- well….
I really liked it.
It was really good.
Simone’s always been good at pushing her characters, but Babs, and the supporting cast, find themselves in emotionally torturous situations that are not only engrossing, but also make you empathise with them (as comics have become progressively more leery and horrible to their characters, this is a rarity). Commissioner Gordon, in one display of Bad-assery, actually PUNCHES Batman. There’s even an evil superheroine trying to kill some of our beloved characters in order to cover her vigilante ass. This is a thriller, bitches, in the kind of nitty Gotham style that I thought Greg Rucka owned, but Gail Simone, you proved you rule every type of comic, not just team books, and I am loving it.
Simone’s work, already pretty damn good, has matured- we’re free now of the ironic fan service-y fights in swimming pools between Black Canary and Cheshire, and it makes her work an awful lot stronger.
And I will be reading more of Batgirl, damn you.
And I’ll even pay for it.