For quite a while, Laura has been fascinated by the idea that Batman, having nothing better to do, would hook up his friend Barbara Gordon with his friend Clark Kent. Batman, in addition to solving the world's mysteries, has also unlocked the key to matching people up. Ever since the idea of Superman and Batgirl as a couple was brought up, I've been more fascinated by that than just The Dark Knight's SuperheroMatch.com.
I decided to take this intrigue one step further, and do some actual research.
The DC Reboot brings us a Babs that can be Batgirl again, and a Superman that's suddenly single. (Not that, if he were single again, he wouldn't consider dating someone that's handicapped -- it's just, cowls... they're so sexy.) So I am about to take a look back at "DC Comics Presents" #19 -- Superman and Batgirl, and Superman #268, guest-starring Batgirl. (The third Babs/Supes teamup was in Superman #279, which I will try like hell to find now at every convention I go to. Dealers: Get ready for me to pay stupid amounts of money for it.) Superman #268 is the comic that Laura has long been talking about, where Batman decides to set up Clark with Babs, because they're both nerds.
But actually, Batman and Superman have NO IDEA that Barbara is Batgirl. At this point in time in DC continuity, Barbara Gordon is a Congresswoman. (According to a poster in the CBR Forums who liked this 70s-era Batgirl, she "didn't take shit from anyone and was anti-nuclear.") Batman just wants Clark Kent to call up Barbara while he's on assignment (for WGBS, this was after he became a tv anchor with Lana Lang) in Washington D.C., because, quote:
I love how Batman is that friend that harps on something until you do what it is he's asking just so he'll shut the fuck up.
Anyway, on the next page, Clark's about to miss his plane, so he uses his superbreath to literally hold the door open while the plane is on the tarmac.
He later unfreezes it with his laser eyeballs after he's safely aboard. The next time I have to wait on a plane for takeoff, I'm blaming it on someone's halitosis.
So, Clark does indeed take time out of his busy life to call "some redheaded congressperson" and make a date for a fancy White House dinner. This requires Barbara dumping her actual date, but he's a lobbyist, so no one cares that she did a pretty crappy thing by changing dates at the last minute. When they get to the dinner, Clark proceeds to bore the Aquanet right out of Barbara's bouffant by telling her all about how he used to paint dorms.
Just as she's about to fall asleep, Barbara's friend "Senator Cleary" shows up, and that's exactly who Clark Kent wants to see. Apparently Cleary is, to save some time here, up to some nefarious shit that is not actually public knowledge. Clark goes right ahead and blurts all that info out, though, which prompts Barbara to haul him out of the party, completely mortified that she brought a reporter to a White House dinner. She gives him the brush-off, marking him down as "a real drag." After he leaves her at her apartment door, Clark gets kidnapped by some goons.
Here's where it's important that he's a tv personality nowadays, rather than a newspaper reporter. He's missing less than 24 hours and it's headline news everywhere. Print journalists, pffff. They go missing all the time, who cares? But someone on tv? EVERYONE SEND OUT A SEARCH PARTY, WHO WILL READ THE NEWS ALOUD IF CLARK KENT CAN'T?
Which means Batgirl is ON THE CASE!
This is important, because Batgirl hasn't been around since Barbara joined the House of Representatives a couple years back. It's amazing her old costume still fits, and we're not looking at a montage of cape jokes and wedgie picking. (That's if I wrote Batgirl, by the way.)
Just as Clark's getting pretty sick of playing the sad human torture victim, Batgirl breaks in to the Super Secret Spy Hideout to free him. (The spies were interested in getting more dirt on Senator Cleary from Clark.) While everyone's distracted because they're getting their asses kicked by a girl, he switches to his Superman getup, and jumps in to the fray. But shit is about to get real with laser weapons at close range, so he offers Babs his cape for extra protection, aww.
Instead of acting all Buttercup and just standing there while Superman lets deadly laser guns go "zap, kapwing!" off of him, Batgirl runs around and finds where all the criminal masterminds are doing their super secret spy stuff. While she's busy breaking that up and calling in the FBI, Superman takes "Clark Kent" to the "hospital" (a goon he puts in his Clark glasses and eventually drops off to the authorities.) Later, as Barbara Gordon, she goes to the hospital to visit the actual Clark, and they make polite boring conversation and no one kisses so I sort of tuned out.
Plus, there was some contrivance with a Magic Eye and Superman having been brainwashed by a bedazzler, blah blah blah, to be continued.
So, their first official meetup was chaste and bland. It was not the world's greatest blind date, but it wasn't awful either. I got the impression that Barbara didn't find Clark nearly as exciting as she does Dick Grayson. As much as the pairing of Batgirl and Superman intrigues me, I have to agree -- Dick Grayson is Dick Grayson. And by that I mean:
Superman #268 was written by Elliot S. Maggin, with art by Curt Swan and Bob Oksner.
Moving on to the DC Comics Presents teamup, I liked the intro graphic about Superman and Batgirl that referred to Barbara as "the Dominoed Daredoll." Right off the bat (heh) on the splash page, you're notified that you're about to get a supernatural story, which is awesome, because magic usually gives Superman a sad. (But, not so much here, hmm.)
An old prospector finds a magic house in the desert. He sells all the valuables inside to fund a big party for "big shot celebrities," as you do when you're a prospector and you find a magic house. This guy is like the next Richard Branson, I can just feel it. Anyway, Barbara Gordon and Clark Kent are invited, and right away everything goes haywire, as the helicopter hired to fly everyone in starts making dive bomb runs at the house.
Barbara reveals that after losing the last Congressional election, she feels like going to a suspiciously vacant mansion in the desert for a dinner party, "to take her mind off things." One of the party guests decides to beat the snot out of "the feller what flies the heli-copter," so Superman has to fly him to the hospital, which is of course really far away. Because why put a spooky magic fortress in the middle of a desert with convenient medical care close by?
Let's just let Superman be snarky about it, instead, it's way more fun:
Anyway, the house has cold spots, they're a mysterious obelisk that no one can explain, the wine turns to blood, everyone is angry and prone to fist fighting -- your standard haunted house rigmarole. Barbara decides Batgirl is better equipped to handle a bunch of murderous house guests, but it all gets out of hand pretty quickly. She decides to high-tail it out of there with the prospector (who seems unaffected by all the rage virus that's going around.)
While they're busy trying to evade the crazy people, Superman returns to find the mansion has vanished. His first instinct is to check underground, in case the house sunk. So he digs all the way to the Earth's core. THEN he's like "oh, right, super vision," and scans the area, seeing the mansion as a mirage. When he tries to go in, he enters the mind of a giant bird-man-thing named "Doctor Horus."
Blah blah blah, Dr. Horus, Egyptian god, locked in his own personal hell, blah blah. There's a lot of stuff here that is not Superman and Batgirl hooking up. Superman figures it all out pretty quickly, especially after Dr. Horus explains that he's spending eternity locked in his own mind. Superman rescues Batgirl and the prospector, and busts open the mysterious obelisk to find Dr. Horus and force him to make everyone at the party non-crazy again. After that, he returns to the house (which has been de-magicked and I suppose remains the property of the prospector) as Clark Kent and acts all "Buh? Wha? Mysterious rage virus? ...I was in the basement."
And that's it. There was no date at all, and no real team-up, even. Batgirl did her own thing inside the house while Superman shuttled the injured and de-crazied the crazies. While the story was pretty good, it wasn't exactly the Batgirl / Superman teamup I was hoping for. Maybe DC comics doesn't think Batman is as great a matchmaker as we do?
Since this marked the last real "team-up" of the two, and the cover even screams "THE TEAM-UP YOU DEMANDED!," and Laura says it's one of the most requested team-ups ever, maybe DC just reads in to it what we do. Which is to say, maybe DC realizes people unconsciously desire to see Batman and Superman as a couple. Unfortunately it seems readers aren't hip enough to deal with the World's Finest as the World's Finest Gay Couple. So we got these kind of tame, lame "team-ups" between Bats' gal counterpart to show us just how boring Superman and Batman arguing over the remote control really would be.
DC Presents #19 was written by Denny O'Neil, with art by Joe Staton (pencils), F. Chiaramonte (inks) and Jerry Serpe (colors.)