Writer Gail Simone ends her nearly three-year run chronicling the adventures of Barbara Gordon with this issue. How do you top off one of the longest tenures in the entirety of the New 52? Your Major Spoilers review of Batgirl #34 awaits!
Writer: Gail Simone
Penciler: Fernando Pasarin
Inker: Jonathan Glapion & Matt Ryan
Letterer: Dezi Sienty
Editor: Katie Kubert & Chris Conroy
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Previously in Batgirl: Barbara Gordon was wounded by the monster known as The Joker, and left paralyzed for years. When a miraculous process restored her mobility, she once again took up the mantle of Batgirl to face a Gotham City that was more dangerous than ever. Possibly her most dangerous enemy came in the form of Knightfall, a woman with resources rivaling Bruce Wayne himself, all of which she used to punish (with deadly force) anyone she believed to be a criminal. Barbara has called in a few favors, and now, with the help of The Huntress and Black Canary (two characters with whom previous iterations of Barbara Gordon have extensive history), she is ready to mount a frontal assault on Knightfall and bring her down once and for all…
Unfortunately, Knightfall has planned a frontal assault of her own.
TOGETHER AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME
The biggest complaint that I have heard leveled against Gail Simone is that she focuses on character moments and interactions more than the plotting of her stories, but as I read more and more of her work, I find that’s not entirely true. This issue, for instance, pulls together threads of story dating back to the beginning of the run, with multiple villains working under the control of Knightfall, as she sends hired mercenaries into the streets of Gotham, with orders to murder anyone guilty of a crime. At the same time, Batgirl and her old/new allies attack Knightfall on her floating yacht headquarters, leading to a couple of really impressive badass moments (including Black Canary knocking a rocket-propelled explosive out of the air with her signature Canary Cry.) The battle quickly escalates, both in the streets of Gotham and on the water, and Knightfall tries more than once to pull a “No, Mister Bond” villain gambit. Each time, Batgirl responds that she was one step ahead, breaking into Knightfall’s servers, anticipating every moment of the plan, and outsmarting her at her own game.
THE VEIDT TECHNIQUE
Indeed, except for the loss of Batman’s favorite boat (an incredible piece of equipment, thanks to artist Pasarin), Batgirl has the whole situation in hand, and in a wonderful turn of events, even counteracts Knightfall’s army of goons with the help of the Gotham PD and a few of her superhero associates. Seeing so many of the female heroes of the New 52 working in concert is impressive, both visually, and as a testament to the skills of Barbara Gordon as a tactician, but the best part of the story comes when she pulls out her final gambit against Knightfall. It’s a moment so perfectly in character and so well-executed that I can’t even spoil it for you, Faithful Spoilerites. It’s just that cool. Knightfall even reveals the one piece of information that Batgirl needs to hear, allowing her to set off on the new portion of her career with a whole new mindset,. Simone makes the traditional “clear the decks for the new creative team” story seem like a grand finale rather than just housekeeping, and the final scene with Barbara and best friend Alysia reuniting is a wonderfully sweet one, reminding us that these quiet, human moments are what Gail does best. Pasarin’s art throughout the issue is excellent, and with the sole exception of Fairchild’s somewhat awful new uniform (not the artists’ fault, either), everyone looks phenomenal throughout.
THE BOTTOM LINE: EFFECTIVE, STRONG SWAN SONG
All in all, this issue serves not just as a wrap-up for this run of Batgirl, but as a coda for the no-longer-in-continuity Birds of Prey series before Barry Allen rebooted the universe in 2011, and is a satisfying way to end a run. Indeed, it’s a good thing that they announced the new costume and premise early, as this issue could serve as a perfect jumping-off point for long-time readers, making a satisfying “last issue.” Batgirl #34 is the end of an era, but goes out in style, looking good and giving the character closure and several amazing moments for the main character, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall. I’m going to miss Gail on this book, but at least they went out on a high note…