Barbara Gorden has a happy family life and a great side gig patrolling the gleaming streets of Gothtopia for non-existent crimes as the heroine Bluebelle. Say what? Happy family life? This is the Gordon clan. Divorce, homicidal brothers and spinal injuries via the Clown Price of Crime do not a happy family make. But that was back in the Gotham days and now we’re in… Gothtopia. Gothtopia is the shiny happy version of Gotham where everyone’s life is perfect. Think of it as a nicer version Metropolis or, sticking with Superman analogies, Bizzaro-Gotham. Gail Simone does a nice job of lending this benign landscape a Stepford Wives creepiness. Robert Gill adds extra perkiness to Barbara and manages to smooth the world-weariness from Commissioner Gorden and most of the stubble from Lieutenant Bullock. When the façade of Gothtopia begins to crack, it was almost comforting to see the rot of the true Gotham seeping through. Simone uses this juxtaposition to gently remind us just how much the city is an integral part of the Bat-family.
Tie-ins don’t generally bother me. At their worst they’re just another marketing mechanism to get readers to pick up a couple of extra books. This one is a bit of tough pill to swallow because you really need to read the Gothtopia story in Detective #27 to have any clue of what’s going on. And, in case you missed it, that’s a $7.99 investment. Burying critical plot points in an oversized montage anniversary fandango just feels greedy. Focusing the above criticism to this book: Simone should have made this story stand alone. There was no reason to rely on the events that occurred in Detective to tell this portion of the story. It was also disappointing to see how quickly Batman figured out the true nature of Gothtopia while Batgirl aka Bluebelle floundered along on the mystery–solving path.
The reliance on events in other Bat titles feels like a step backward from the independence that Simone has given these characters to date. Here’s hoping she can get back to business when this Gothtopia storyline fades away.
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