Batgirl update: still kinda liking Batgirl


It may be melodramatic and fairly simple, but Gail Simone’s current run with Batgirl – forcing Barbara Gordon from her wheelchair and back onto the Gotham skyline – isn’t without a certain charm. The current arc, which is still drip-feeding readers with information about the Killing Joke, natch, sees Barbara facing one of the Joker’s henchmen from that fateful night (when she got shot and paralysed by Joker, remember?) who now works for a new villain. This villain, called Grotesque, wears a mask and carries a cane and is opulent.

But before we get into the superhero element of the story, let’s first pay attention to the segment which is soap-opera-y and a little less enjoyable. This arc sees Batgirl’s absent mother returning to Gotham, in an attempt to reconnect with her broken family. Barbara hasn’t yet come to terms with this, and confronts her mother. After hearing her mum’s explanation she’s less angry, but more conflicted, and runs off crying. The scene just-about hangs together, but only because it’s able to lean on Scott Snyder’s brilliant ‘Black Mirror’ story for balance. There’s also a bit of a problem with the artist drawing these scenes – I’m not sure if it’s Adrian Syaf, Alitha Martinez or Vicente Cifuentes, all of whom are credited on this issue – but they struggle with the job of differentiating the two red-heads. There may be twenty years between them, but Batgirl looks just as old as her mother is, most of the time, and that means relying on the clothes to keep the two distinct.

Okay! Back to the main plot thread. Batgirl has to deal with Joker’s thug, as well as Grotesque, and makes some bizarre decisions as a result. Her rationale throughout the issue is a little off, and Simone is obviously trying to play off that to make her charge seem more unpredictable – but it doesn’t really come across that way. Instead, Batgirl just seems stupid and ill-prepared. I do like that she’s still riding her motorbike around all the time, but everything else she does seems a little arbitrary. The final fight scene then plays out in the way most people would be expecting – a redemptive sacrifice, some punching, and so on.

The final two pages are the biggest ones. And this, as soon as a character turned up whose face was being obscured, got me excited. Because sure enough, Simone has got her hands on James Gordon Jr, and is looking to cause some trouble. That’s massively exciting, and should work wonders on the book. Barbara has spent some time fighting new villains, and thinking about the (currently unusable because Tony Daniel cut his face off) Joker… but now it’s time for Simone to bring us a storyline readers have been clamouring for ever since Black Mirror concluded. It’s a great prospect.

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