We continue Moth’s Book Club Catch-Up tour!
Showcase '93 #9-10:
I actually remember owning issue #10 as a kid, but didn’t remember much about the story. This is pretty classic grim and gritty early 90’s material. One potentially troubling thing about these early 90’s stories is that they did try to channel real-world issues. @Jay_Kay mentioned the Waco inspirations of the survivalist camp (the Ruby Ridge siege also likely influenced this). The street gang that Huntress fights in the beginning also channels the media heightened, racialized fear of inner-city gangs that radiated through America in the 90’s. On one hand, the willingness to try and depict these real-world issues is bold. It’s in stark contrast to the “pretend they don’t exist” approach to earlier comics. On the other hand, these issues are not really explored in meaningful way, so that has the unintended consequence of being reductive. There were definite shades of grey in the real-life Waco/Ruby Ridge incidents, and the depictions of young African American men as gang-bangers in the 90’s was, well, toxic. Like I said, I believe these consequences were unintended, but they are definitely things I think about when I re-read early 90’s DC Comics (Marvel and Image too, for that matter).
Outside of that, I enjoyed the continued character progression of Helena in this story. We are given further justification for her descent into ruthlessness. Her desperate wish to protect her student and her inability to do so likely only stoked the simmering rage inside her. This story helped cement Huntress’ place in the DC Universe as the vigilante that will tackle the grim realities that other heroes won’t touch. I also loved her interactions with JPV Batman (who is a hypocrite).
Showcase '94 #5-6 and Robin #6:
What stood out to me the most about this story was the fact that it reminded me a lot of Frank Miller’s Daredevil. I felt the Miller influence radiating off of this one. Miller’s Daredevil dealt with the mafia, urban vigilantes, and explored Catholic themes which is pretty much this story in a nutshell. Miller’s Daredevil also had a mysterious nun who occasionally aided the Man Without Fear. Robin had his ninja nun. Anyway, it just goes to show how much influence Miller had on this era.
What I liked the most about this story was the Huntress/Robin partnership. I remember owning quite a few of their team-up issues when I was a kid. In some ways, Helena was a better partner to Tim Drake than the Batriarchy ever was. Tim is sometimes a bit patronizing to Helena, but you can see there’s a mutual respect and they have each other’s backs. Their friendship in the 90’s Bat-Books is something I get nostalgic for.
Showcase '94 #12:
Let’s talk about Babs! I found this to be a really positive, empowering story for her. She is definitely grappling with PTSD from the events of The Story That Shall Not Be Named, but she finds the strength to overcome it (it reminds me of a story we should be reading this week, but I’ll say no more until I post about it). She also proves that she can still kick butt from a wheelchair. This is a positive story for her transition from Batgirl to Oracle.
Showcase '96 #3:
This was a pleasant surprise! I didn’t know that Lois teamed up with Babs and Dinah in ‘96. This story came out in the midst of Lois and Clark’s pre-marriage, 1996 relationship issues that basically wasted a whole year of Superman comics (but… that is an irrelevant Moth rant, so I’ll leave it at that). Still, it was funny reading Lois and Dinah bonding over their super-romantic dilemmas. For Dinah, the issue is obvious: Ollie lived life as the world’s worst boyfriend and died the world’s worst boyfriend. Lois’ gripe with Supes was a bit more complicated as he refused to kill The Joker to save her life.
This was a really fun team-up, and it was a good example of the early Oracle/Black Canary partnership that was the bedrock for BoP. I also really like how they eventually defeated the evil foreman. How do you overcome labor abuse: Unionize.
I will leave it at that, for now. I’ve loved this book club so far and look forward to each week of it!