I don’t know what “Gothtopia” is. I’m going to figure it out by the end of this review, but for now, dear readers, realize that I’m going into this issue with zero idea of what in the world is going on in here. As always, I review the comic as I read through it on the first time, then summarize shit once I’ve taken a sec to gather my thoughts and form my oh, so many opinions.
Let’s explore my ignorance together, shall we? Let’s begin.
The comic opens with Babs narrating the morning routine of Angela Ramirez, a woman with family and a good job, managing the Joker Brand Ice Cream Company.
Apparently, Gotham City is the safest, the nicest, the friendliest city in ‘Murica, and even the weather is a balmy 90 degrees and sunny in February! Everyone is happy in Gotham. Everyone smiles. But Ms. Ramirez has started having nightmares. And she’s not smiling any more.
Cut to the Gordon household, where a cheerful Barbara wakes to her dad making breakfast, and the promise of bacon as she scrambles for clean pants.
She muses on the love she has for her family. Her mother is still around. Her dad is carefree. Her brother, James Jr., is a volunteer at a soup kitchen. And her cat is fat as fuck. There’s your first, second, and third warning bells right there.
And in this perfect, crime-free Gotham? She’s still Batgirl for some reason.
…Okay. I’mma wait.
And her partner is crime-stopping is… Charise Carnes. Fucking Knightfall. But here, she’s “Daybreak.”
Back at the Ice Cream factory, Ms. Ramirez tells
Steve Urkel an underling named Leo that she’s started scheduling surprise inspections of the flavouring vats. Anybody else’s ears perk up at the mention of “vats” at the “Joker” Ice Cream factory?
On the roof above the ice cream truck, Babs, who has only been referred to so far as “Bluebell” (and isn’t that an ice cream brand itself and WHY is there still a bat on her chest, then?) refuses to buy ice cream. This appears to be due to the fear of clowns. HA!
Right after that little meeting, a bus full of children from Gotham Elementary (How can there be only the one elementary school?!) arrives, making me really nervous all of a sudden.
And then this happens.
The trucks can’t be called back because all of the radios are down. Somehow, even the cellular phones aren’t working. So, Barbara tells Daybreak to “make the call” and steals one of the poisoned people’s motorcycles, tailing an ice cream truck that’s just made its way into a public park. She slaps a dude’s ice cream out of his hand, and he, naturally, takes a swing at her head.
Urkell is telling Ramirez about the poisoned ice cream, saying that they can’t give any of it to the kids, of course. Ramirez responds by donning a clown mask, hoisting a pistol, and assuring him that nothing bad could ever happen in Gotham.
Naturally, she shoots Steve Urkell (Did I do that?). However, she promptly reassures the children, saying that they’ll be together forever, unlike the little girl she once had, and unlike her former husband. She tells them to call her Mother Mercy.
Awesome. That’s not creepy at all.
Babs and Charise arrive on the scene and the GCPD is there ahead of her. Detective McKenna wants her to go in on the DL and take the aggressor out, but Detective Bullock is also there, belittling her and saying that Mayor Cobblepot has given the order to use a sniper on the way.
Inside, Ramirez is traumatizing the children further by telling them her very tragic story wherein she was called in by the police to identify the smiling corpses of her husband and daughter. Despite their deaths, she says she was still happy, still smiling, just like all of Gotham. She questions this fact. She says that she wants to forget, but she can’t with the city plastered with the smiling Joker face logo. So, she’s gonna go all Heaven’s Gate on these kids and she and the kids will all eat ice cream and stay together, smiling forever.
Outside, Daybreak offers Babs a distraction in the form of blowing up Bullock’s car.
The sniper is still on the roof. It’s not much of a distraction as Barbara sails over ALL of the police, who are all looking directly at her, some even pointing in case you inexplicably missed her.
Right before Ramirez forces the first kid to eat, Barbara bursts in, elbowing this woman who put so much thought into her plan but apparently never learned how to use that fucking gun in the FACE.
The “very bad day” making her a raving, mass-murdering psychopath reminds me of “The Killing Joke.”
…And then it reminds Barbara, too. And Ramirez sees that she’s not the only person who remembers another life, another truth.
While the Barbara has a mini panic attack, the sniper makes his move. Ramirez is struck in the solar plexus, not the heart or the head so this sniper should be FIRED, but it gives her enough time to give us some last words about her family and some other such bullshit… Trying to make me feel feelings, DC?!?!?! Better publishers than you have tried.
Barbara clings to the fact that the kids are safe. She wants to forget this day. She plans to. She even says, that if this is her waking up…
How very un-Barbara-like. To dismiss reality. To delude herself.
So, as if we didn’t know that it would be already, this “Gothtopia” is a problem. And, as I mentioned “Emperor Joker” earlier and DC is really out of ideas, I’m willing to wager that the whole thing is some kind of illusion-y thing. The Joker is probably behind it all, but that might be a red herring because DC likes to pretend that they’re clever. And while I do like Gail Simone on Batgirl (and I liked her Wonder Woman run, too, but that’s a whole other story), I also read “Leaving Megalopolis,” her recent independently published trade, and it fell really flat. So… Obviously, I’m going to give it a try. I’ll try to pick up the Detective Comics and other Bat-books tie-ins (DAMMIT.) and I’ll summarize shit you the rest of you nerds.
The issue, overall, was entertaining. But one thing is still bothering me, and is completely unconscionable even before the rest of the story unfolds…
See you next time, kids! And remember: Don’t drink the Kool-Aid!