Friday, October 26, 2012
Batgirl -- Murderer!
This is from Detective Comics #497 to #499. (It ran from December 1980 to February 1981.)
Great art by Jose Delbo and Joe Giella. (The cover is Jim Aparo.)
Batgirl had a backup feature in Detective Comics on and off for years. Years and years. When I started collecting Detetcive Comics a year or so after this storyline, she was getting to the end of her then-current run in Detective and, I'm ashamed to say, I didn't much like the Batgirl series that took up so much space in the back of Detective.
Nowadays, I love these stories! There's art by Trevor von Eeden for a few issues where Babs (as Batgirl is known to her fans) fights the Velvet Tiger! Reading through them over the last year or so, I'm kicking myself for not appreciating the old Batgirl series a lot more when it was first being published. (If it's any consolation, I wasn't much of a Green Arrow fan either when he took over the backup feature, and I still haven't warmed to those issues.)
Anyway, in the series we're talking about today - I call it "Batgirl -- Murderer!" even thought it's called several variants of this on the covers and in the stories - Barbara Gordon is accused of killing Congressman Scanlon.
Her fingerprints are on his bottle of prescription sleeping pills! (Scanlon was poisoned and the cops think the poison was administered through a doctored pill!)
A security camera shows Babs going upstairs at the congressman's house during a party when she really had no reason to go up there. (She was changing to Batgirl -- but she can't tell them that!)
Her motive? She and the congressman fought a few political battles when she herself was in Congress. (That's one of the great things about Silver Age Batgirl. She was a congresswoman for a while! At this point, she wasn't in Congress anymore, but her past would be mentioned at times.)
Because her dad - that's James Gordon - is the police commissioner, they don't arrest her immediately, thus giving her time to turn into Batgirl so she can try to figure out who framed her.
But she doesn't get very far before the DA's office turns up some better evidence - information that Scanlon was going to cut funding to Barbara's division of the governement (thus giving her a better motive) and proof that Barbara Gordon had ordered the poison believed to have been used to kill the congressman!
The authorities show up and arrest her, and that's the end of Part One.
In Part Two, Commissioner Gordon gets her out of jail and she's placed in his custody. But he knows she's Batgirl, so she's free to roam the night to prove her innocence.
She figures out the most likely person to be messing around with the stuff on her desk and placing the bottle of pills so that Babs would get her fingerprints on it. It must be her assistant, Doreen! Batgirl also breaks into police headquarters and finds the file that containes the evidence against her and finds out that her signature is on a request for the poison. (Because that's how you would get hold of the posion to kill a congressman -- through an official request through a government office!) And Doreen would be in a position to sneak a phony request like that into Barbara's correspondance where she would sign it without looking at it!
Batgirl finds Doreen and discovers that Doreen's brother is in prison, and some mysterious somebody has persuaded Doreen to take part in a nefarious scheme to get the goods on Barbara Gordon so that Police Commissioner Gordon will be forced to do what he can to get her brother free because he will want to protect Barbara. It's blackmail!
But things have gone wrong, and Doreen never meant for Barbara to actually be arrested and charged for murder!
Batgirl now knows what's going on, but before she can do anything, the DA wants to meet with Barbara but she can't be found and it looks like she's split to escape the murder charges! And on top of that, some thugs attack Batgirl and Doreen, knocking Batgirl unconscious and kidnapping the two of them!
Babs is really in trouble now!
And then ...
I don't know what happens next. I don't have Part Three yet.
But when I do get Detective Comics #499, I'll be right here as soon as I can to describe the thrilling conclusion of "Batgirl -- Murderer!"
And that's one more reason why we love Detective Comics!