By: Gail Simone (writer), Ardian Syaf, Alitha Martinez, Vicente Cifuentes (artists), Ulises Arreola (colorist)
The Story: It just goes to show, you can sometimes trust a man named “Weasel.”
The Review: Last month, I complained about how tired I was getting of Batgirl constantly questioning herself, of asking whether she deserved everything she had. While this kind of reverse-guilt was understandable in her case, after a certain point impatience has to kick in. In a world where good people suffer horrors every day—certainly something Babs knows firsthand living in Gotham—how long can you really tolerate someone worrying over their good fortune?
Thankfully, Black Canary beat some sense into her in that issue, and here, I am happy to report, Babs steers clear from the self-doubt issues she’s been plagued with since day one. At one point, she does experience a physical reaction from seeing someone who dates back from the most traumatic incident of her life, but she keeps it brief and under admirable restraint. Certainly it doesn’t stop her from knocking out an attacker from behind and then cradling his head before it hits a stone ledge. That speaks volumes about the kind of self-control she possesses now.
The next step Simone should take to make this the title we all want it to be is to improve the quality of villain Batgirl encounters. Black Mirror came quite short of being truly compelling, and Gretel barely had a backstory worth reading. Grotesque, as I believe our current psychopath is called, doesn’t even have a backstory. All we really get out of him is a taste for “beautiful things,” a foppish manner of speaking, and some electrical powers. Not much to go by.
It certainly doesn’t help that Simone still spends way more time with Babs’ stream-of-consciousness rambling than advancing the plot, even though we no longer have to sit through too much maudlin reflection. The whole string of text we get when Babs gets back to her apartment is a good example of the repetitive, jerky, wearisome narration we must deal with: “Three years ago. The Joker and two thugs stepped into my house. I opened the door. That’s what kills me. Cop’s daughter. Superhero. And I opened the door.”
What Simone really needs to do is get Barbara talking to people more. Her coming to terms with Mrs. Gordon’s abandonment is easily the strongest part of the issue. Not only does the dialogue feel more natural (“Your grandmother’s necklace. Oh, Barbara.” “Mom. Stop. Before this…accelerates.), the plot’s more interesting, too. There’s only one explanation that can even begin to excuse Ma Gordon’s actions, and she offers it here. For any of you who followed Scott Snyder’s run on Detective Comics, you can easily guess what I’m getting at. It does tend to make you suspect, as her daughter does, that Mrs. Gordon has other reasons for returning to Gotham than simply trying to reconcile with her husband and daughter.
The art on this title has never been stellar, but it does more than simply get the job done. Syaf still has some difficulty putting momentum into his action sequences without the help of “swipe” or “swoosh” effects, if that makes any sense, but you can see the improvement in Batgirl’s swift takedown of Danny “The Weasel” Weaver’s partner. As for Martinez, she definitely has trouble with the dramatic scenes; most of the sequence between Babs and her mom features both women with blank faces or downturned heads, hardly conveying the range of emotions going on.
Conclusion: Little improvements here and there, but the series’ overall flaws are quickly becoming too great for such minor changes to matter.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – Maybe it’s all this law school stuff being on my mind, but Danny brings up a good point about the unforgiving nature of the justice system on our society: “There’s no work for an ex-con. In this town? I tried. I didn’t sign up for killing. Ever. Maybe I’m not that bright. But I never.” Food for thought, no?