Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

ELSEWORLD’S FINEST by Barbara Kesel and Matt Haley

Elseworlds Finest

The thing that drew me in to this graphic novel was the cover, then the premise. The heroic stances of Supergirl and Batgirl really stand out, and I liked the changes in the costumes while still remaining loyal to the originals. Since this was one of DC Comics’s Elseworld titles, I knew the world I was used to was going to get turned on its ear. I went into the comic looking forward to that.

Since this graphic novel came out near the end of the 1990s, it doesn’t really reflect the things that are going on now in the Super titles and the Bat books. The emergence of Kandor from the bottle and Bruce Wayne currently no longer being Batman are huge, and the tale Barbara Kessel provided for this Elseworlds book pales by comparison.

However, I did like the idea of Gotham City being its own entity and being patrolled and protected by Batgirl. The ribtickler there was having Bruce Wayne be Barbara Gordon’s Alfred. Not only that, but Bruce Wayne in this book really is kind of a fop.

The gut-churner, though, was Supergirl being Lex Luthor’s girl friend. That just rankled from the first page that was introduced and I was glad to see that that annoyance got worked out before the story came to a conclusion.

Kesel’s script does pretty good justice to the overall concept, but I think she got a little lost along the way trying to come up with a fistful of different twists. Admittedly, not all of them worked for me, but that was all right. The enmity between Supergirl and Batgirl at first was easily understood and I felt like it was real.

Unfortunately, the weirdness of some of the twists got in the way of the story and the deep complexity and emotional resonance that could have been there got lean in the final pages. Kessel delivers some good dialogue and brings the characters to life pretty well, but there’s just too many other things getting in the way.

Matt Haley’s art really pops, though. The page breakdowns are interesting and dynamic, and the colorist breathes even more brilliance onto the pages. There was plenty of action and few static pages, so keeping the story flowing was effortless.

I enjoyed the book, but I liked the idea of the new costumes so much that I tracked down the action figures that came out of the graphic novel. I’d always hoped we’d get to see more of these two heroines, but the new incarnations of them both are terrific, and they’re going in ways I hadn’t even imagined. But this book is a great little trip down memory lane.


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