September has come to be a month I dread as a DC reader, but this Futures End issue was very enjoyable, if only for the 'what if' fantasy made reality as I'm sure only Simone would be able to get permission to do at DC these days. The lenticular 3D covers are back this month (but without the allocations this year, good job DC) and along with them another September theme for the entire line, this time it revolves around Futures End, the latest DC weekly title.
All of these stories take place five years in the future, this one begins two years from the current timeline before skipping ahead to year five. My issue with these September DC events is that I want to read both all, and none, of the DC titles at the same time. It is daunting for a reader to try and keep up with such a huge amount of titles, but last year I did it, I read all 52 issues in September. What I learned from that little exercise though was that it wasn't worth it, there were too many bad, filler issues in there, so this year I've decided to be more selective. Thus far I have read about 10 issues, and I'm glad this is the one I'm reviewing, because it has been the best of the bunch so far.
Here in Batgirl Futures End #1 we find that Barbara Gordon has married, but on her wedding day her brother James Gordon Jr. forced her husband to take his own life on their wedding day in order to save Barbara. This sends Barbara on a years-long quest to dismantle Gotham's underground, and ultimately leads her to train for two years with the ultimate villain of that underground, Bane.
Simone has years of experience writing both of these characters and it shows. While Bane is a ruthless killer, Simone has always been able to instill a softer side in him, and highlight his most valuable asset, his intelligence. While Barbara trains with Bane, albeit under a ruse, he forms a bond with her, and begins to see her as a daughter.
After her training is complete (sort of), Barbara returns to Gotham City to lead the 'League of Batgirls', and this is where fan boys and fan girls all around the planet can be heard shrieking in ecstasy. The 'League of Batgirls' is comprised of Stephanie Brown, Cassandra Cain and Tiffany Fox. If that doesn't delight throngs of fans who have been clamoring for Steph and Cass to return, I don't know what will? While this is a single-issue story, set in an alternate (maybe?) future, it is still a chance to see Steph and Cass together, as Batgirls. Only Gail Simone could get this done. Only Gail Simone commands the respect of fans, and is enough of a fan herself, to make this dream into a reality, even if only for a single month.
By the end of the issue Barbara confronts Bane in Gotham and reveals that she is stronger than he ever could have realized, and that she made herself into who she is on her own, not by means of his Venom. Her victory over Bane also prompts her return as Barbara, not an alternate identity/moniker that she had been using for the last few years.
All in all, this is such a satisfying issue not because of the issue itself (though it is good), but because as a fan, you realize how difficult this situation probably was to arrange. Simone has been vocal over the years about wanting Steph and Cass "off the bench" in the New 52, and here she achieves that goal. It's a victory not only for her, but for all Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain fans who have patiently waited years for this to happen. Gail Simone is everything that is great about comic book creators who interact with their fans and appreciate all of the support that we give them. This isn't a creator-owned title, this is work-for-hire at one of the "big two" publishers in the industry, and seeing these characters together here is tantamount to moving mountains, and Gail Simone did it.
When Gail Simone was taken off of Batgirl last year the fans rose up in defiance and anger, and DC listened, reinstating Simone three issues later, and I have to feel like this is her way of thanking all of us for that. Maybe I'm wrong, but it makes for good head cannon either way.
Between teaming up Steph and Cass as Batgirls here in this issue, and relaunching 'Secret Six' in December, Gail Simone may just be having the best year of any comic book creator out there. Awards be damned, Gail Simone is a creator of the people, and it's why so many of us love her so much.
Well, that turned into a love letter to Gail Simone, didn't it? Bottom line for this issue of Batgirl Futures End is that you should read it, especially if you are a fan of any of the women who have donned the cowl and carried that Batgirl legacy over the last...oh, 50 years.
Congratulations Gail Simone, you continue to impress the hell out of me. See you over in 'Secret Six'!