By: Gail Simone (story), Admira Wijaya (art), Daniel Sampere (pencils)

The Story: Cats, and bats, and owls better scurry.

The Review: Simone and I went through a kind of rough breakup on Batgirl.  It just wasn’t the same between us anymore.  Maybe I had changed, maybe she had changed, but I had grown disenchanted with the situation.  The fire was gone, or had reduced to some drifting embers dissipating into the smoky air.  I don’t think I’m alone in saying that what I read in Batgirl was hardly recognizable as coming from the same woman who gave us Secret Six and Birds of Prey.

Even though I don’t have much interest in going back to that relationship, the split is still fresh enough for me to be curious as to how the ex is doing.  From the looks of it, things are going okay.  Certainly the tone and rhythm of the writing feels a little more sprightly than I remember.  The issue starts off with a mix of humor and snark that is classic Simone: “Bad night in Gotham.  I know what you’re thinking…it must be Wednesday, right?”

One thing that works in Babs’ favor is that she doesn’t have to compete against any other illustrious names in her own book.  Besides the fact that Catwoman isn’t a direct rival to our heroine in the way that, say, Batwoman is, the pairing of Selina and Babs just works.  Both take an improvisatory approach to their line of work that’s almost casual, and both are very comfortable with a little tipsiness in their moral balance.

Who knew Batgirl would end up befriending a former car thief on a long-term basis?  Though unexpected, it feels right.  Ricky owes that much to Babs, and he’s still young enough to straighten himself out.  The fact that he’s still linked with his old criminal life lends a little tension to his association to Babs, too, one that can turn delightfully comedic.  Their meeting caught by Ricky’s brother, Babs plants a wet one on Ricky to save his rep.  Even a hardened gangster can see the appeal of a shapely redhead underneath the bat she wears.

“Bro. Tell me you’re hitting that.”

A little dazed, Ricky replies, “It’s…it’s like Romeo and Juliet, Rolo.  You wouldn’t understand.”

As for Catwoman, we know she’ll never be a good girl, but she’s not a bad woman.  We see that she’s not against violence as needed to protect herself, but she doesn’t generally approve of it either.  I’m not sure if it fits into her personality to be so concerned with the fate of “innocents,” or even to use that term, but the point she makes, same as Ricky, is there’s a difference between someone who commits crimes and someone who murders.  And if that’s not enough to redeem her in your eyes, at least you can appreciate her sympathy for strays—even highly volatile, savage ones—right?

Wijaya’s digitally crafted art starts off strong, particularly in that title splash, with Batgirl facing off against armed thugs on all sides amidst the flames and sparks of a burning building.  After that, Wijaya’s work boils down to your pretty but static photo-realistic material.  It’s hard to get real energy out of those carefully poised figures.  Sampere’s pencils don’t fare much better.  His lines are so loose that whatever extra momentum they have gets muddled beneath some very heavy colors.  Since there’s no colorist credit, I’m guessing Wijaya and Sampere colored their respective work, in which case Wijaya’s painted hues make her figures more stationary than ever, and Sampere has no sense of proper lighting.

Conclusion: I’m glad to see that Simone is still plugging away, trying to capture the spirit she wants for this title.  She gets pretty close here, but is hampered by less than impressive art.

Grade: B-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Mr. Parsons doesn’t just kill himself; he’s ordered to do so.  Confirms the intel in Talon #1: the Court is still around, licking its wounds.

– I really don’t think in this context, Batgirl and Catwoman would be reduced to tears over the dilemma of what to do about Mary, the Talon they just saved.