As Stephanie Brown gets ready to kick off her spring semester at Gotham University, she gets the chance to face one mean, messy villain, and get closer to the detective she has a secret crush on.
Previously in Batgirl: Stephanie Brown has climbed the hero ladder and landed a sweet spot at the current Batgirl under the tutelage of former Batgirl, Barbara Gordon. Along with Wendy “Proxy” Harris acting as an Oracle in training, Stephanie has been able to prove herself time and time again that she is ready be Batgirl.
CLAYFACE, THE GOOD ONE
There have been many incarnations of Clayface through the ages, and this time out, DC is taking a trip back to the old days by digging up Basil Karlo and giving him the chance to take on Batgirl. For those that watched the Batman: Animated Series, this is the version of Clayface you’ve come to love to hate as the monstrous fiend attempts to break into Gotham Bank and Trust.
Of course the story doesn’t start out that way, as GCPD Detective Gage believes he has the husband of a bank manager cornered after she’s been found dead. It isn’t until the action takes to the rooftops that Karlo reveals his nature, and it takes Batgirl swooping in Amazing Fantasy #15 style to save Gage’s butt when Clayface gives him a very rough shove off the roof. Batgirl pursues Karlo to a bank where the issue takes on a very stereotypical Clayface can look like anyone, including the hero, complete with a “Don’t shoot me, shoot him!” moment.
I like well told Clayface tales that make the character come off as a sympathetic villain, and to an extent Miller is able to do that when it is revealed Clayface broke into the bank to access a safety deposit box containing a picture of his dead wife. There have been a lot of criminal on the lam for a reason stories told, and it appears as though Miller is attempting to channel that energy into this issue. I’m not completely convinced he was able to pull it off, and it may be because he’s trying to inject too much quippy humor into Stephanie’s character. I like Dick Grayson as much as the next guy, but Batgirl isn’t the original Robin – heck she isn’t even the original Batgirl – and the attempt to inject humor into this character doesn’t feel genuine.
I love the Batman: The Animated Series version of Clayface. The big broad shoulders, ability to turn his arms into weapons, the white eyes and massive underbite gives Clayface his now iconic look and Pere Perez is able to bring the animated character to the page, and make it fit with his art style. Pere is able to create a few creep out moments involving the unmasking of the villain, especially the 360 head turn of the bank manager revealing her true nature. Other than that, the art is solid, but there wasn’t much that really jumped out as outstanding.
BOTTOM LINE: WORTH A READ
With the announcement that Dustin Nguyen will be joining the Batgirl team, there will probably be a renewed interest in the title, and more than a few people will be heading down to the store to find out what this blonde Batgirl dressed in purple and black is all about. This issue is a nice done in one, and even though new readers may not know who Detective Gage is, or what Wendy Harris is doing in the Batcave, the story is worth a read. Batgirl #13 is a better than average issue, earning 3 out of 5 Stars.