Archives in Comics: Batgirl #48
Updated: Aug 20
Back in the olden days of the New 52, DC Comics' questionably successful relaunch/reboot of all titles across the board, one of the best books to come out of the lot was Batgirl. Taking the reins after Gail Simone's reintroduction of Barbara "Babs" Gordon to the DC readership, writers Brenden Fletcher and another dude I won't name because he's an abuser, illustrator Babs Tarr, colorers Serge LaPointe and Lee Loughridge, and letterer Steve Wands, took advantage of the reboot as a means of revamping nearly everything about everyone's favorite geeky superhero. Trust me, I'll be covering Barbara Gordon more in depth at some point.
Step One, a new, more functional costume that actually reflected Barbara Gordon's personality beyond skintight spandex. Step Two, a new location with new and old friends that allowed Babs to stand on her own as a hero amongst the myriad bat-allies of Gotham City. Step Three, a deeper focus on Babs' personal life and her struggles to operate as a hero, a daughter, a friend, and a college student.
It was truly one of the best titles to come out at the time and I won't lie that I miss Babs Tarr's versions of Batgirl and Company. She can't not make every character look hot and I appreciate that. I especially appreciate her version of Dick Grayson, aka Nightwing, because...I mean, come on, it's Dick!
But, as is the case in most pieces appearing on this site, when an archives rears its head it often means dealing with a lot of misconceptions about the function or purpose of said archives. I will say this: Batgirl #48 isn't an egregious example of improper depictions of archives simply because the archives isn't featured long enough to stack on the problems.
In Batgirl #48, Babs' ongoing memory issues come to a head as she and Dinah Lance, aka Black Canary, trace Babs' forgotten actions to the old Burnside Hall of Records. Once they enter the old building, we're immediately greeted with cobwebs, spiders, and room after room of shelves and boxes still apparently full of abandoned records. It's literally one page depicting the interior of the Hall of Records that ends with the heroes finding a hatch to a secret hideaway beneath the city. Like ya do!
I don't recall if the Hall of Records was abandoned by means of something happening previously in the story, but the fact that there's still materials in the building is a bit disconcerting. And if enough time's passed for cobwebs to be created, it either means it's been a while since the building was abandoned or the cleaning staff really slacked off. I'm not sure which option I prefer. At least the archives wasn't in the basement...because that's where the villain's hideout was taking up space! Progress?
There's not much else to say about this issue. We see an archives and then the story moves on without any commentary. Done and done, what's next?