REVIEW: Batgirl #23
Or – “Will They Rip Out Readers’ Hearts Again?”
Barbara Gordon’s second Batgirl career has not been without its bumps, especially given that she was forced to kill her own brother in the line of duty, gaining the ire of the Commissioner of the Gotham City police, who has vowed to bring her down.
Of course, he doesn’t know that she’s actually his daughter…
Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
Tightly plotted, well-done story.
I like this art.
Why do they want all our tears?
Writer: Gail Simone
Penciler: Fernando Pasarin
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Letterer: Dezi Sienty
Editor: Katie Kubert
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Previously in Batgirl: Barbara Gordon is Batgirl, and nothing for her is ever simple. Her brother is dead at her hand, her father blames her (or at least her second identity), she’s done things that have made her ashamed to wear the Bat-symbol, and all hell has broken loose. Can it get any worse?
A TERRIFYING MOMENT…
Of course it can get worse, Gail Simone is writing, and she secretly hates us all and wants us to cry. This issue compounds insult with injury, as Commissioner Gordon visits Knightfall (in her civilian identity) and enlists her help in bringing down Batgirl. Barbara, unaware that everything is closing in on her, starts the issue enjoying a rare moment of fun with her roommate, but even their shopping trip is interrupted by a couple of would-be Romeo schmucks. Things continue to unravel for her, as her anger at the situation leads to a terrifying moment where she threatens their “suitors” with bodily harm, brandishing a broken plate as a knife. Simone does wonderful stuff with this whole sequence, making it clear that Barbara is riding the ragged edge of her anger, and that things are quickly getting out of control, no matter how normal Babs wants to pretend it is.
CHOOSE YOUR FRIENDS CAREFULLY.
The second half of the issue compounds the tragedy, as Barbara’s actual suitor, Ricky, gets a call from his former gang pals, who want him dead and are willing to threaten the people he loves to get there. With Commissioner Gordon also searching for Ricky, all the plots intersect in a dark warehouse in Gotham, forcing Batgirl to venture out (though not in her uniform, but in a generic ninja costume. It’s an exercise in building tension in the last third of the issue, and Batgirl is forced to act to try to save her loved ones. Of course, with one on each side of the confrontation, it becomes difficult, and the issue ends with a moment of tragedy, and Barbara Gordon covered in blood and surrounded by armed GCPD personnel. It’s a terrible moment to witness, and Fernando Pasarin nails the entire sequence, making me happy that we finally have an artist able to deliver on the inherent tension of Simone’s plots, rather than the random cheesecake money-shots of Ed Benes’ work…
THE BOTTOM LINE: YEAH, THEY DID IT AGAIN.
This issue is one of the strongest individual Batgirl stories of this run, finally getting away from Gotham City’s incessant crossovers and weaker artists to deliver a solid hit on both the art and story fronts. The pacing of previous issues of this book has been pretty leisurely, which has led to me misreading slowly building tension as a lack of drama, something for which I feel foolish now. Batgirl #23 is another emotional heart-breaker, and makes me want to read the next issue immediately, the sign of a strong book, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.