Batgirl’s memory issues are intensifying, but her duties as the hero of Burnside aren’t letting up. Something’s got to give… will it be her mind? Your Major Spoilers review of Batgirl #48 awaits!
Previously in Batgirl: Barbara Gordon is Batgirl, the protector of Burnside! With her combat skills, her photographic memory (and a little help from her friends) she fights evil while trying to build a life as a twenty-something in Gotham City’s toniest neighborhood.
But lately, her fabled memory has been showing strange gaps, and her behavior has been affected as well, including a series of terrible nightmares…
We open this issue with a quiet picnic on a rooftop, as Batgirl celebrates her acquisition of a firehouse (that looks a little like the one from ‘Ghostbusters’) with her friend Luke Fox, known to some as the newest Batwing. He has even worn his armor, which comes in handy when Player 1 and Player 2 (the villain team called Co-Op) attacks a local business. The Bat-team leaps into action and makes short work of the video game villains (but not before Babs Tarr gets in some fun redesigns for the heroes’ VG universe suits.) Batwing takes care of the loose ends, while Batgirl returns home with a puzzle: Though she’s MET these villains before, she has no memory of ever facing them! Returning to her apartment, she finds another old friend in the form of Black Canary, who is busy roughing up her friend Greg. The pacing of the issue is wonderful, really driving home the “day in the life of Babs Gordon” motif, with Barbara and Dinah setting off to investigate her new problems, encountering a group of Dinah’s fans (she’s the lead singer of the band Black Canary in her own solo book) and getting into an important fight with a villain who has an explanation for Barbara’s memory woes…
ART IS LOOSE, BUT FUN
I have to admit, I missed an issue or two of Batgirl, but the story doesn’t penalize me for that, giving me all the information that I need in a clear, organic way. Also, since the last time I read, that art has evolved somewhat, with Babs Tarr’s line work feeling sketchier, but also feeling more sure of itself. The battle sequences are lovely (and, frankly, Batwing has never looked so good) and the quiet moments of interaction work as well. Best of all, the facial expressions for all the characters are incredibly expressive: Dinah’s slightly grumpy sneer; Greg’s feckless gob; Batwing’s best “on-a-date” suave smile. All in all, it’s a wonderful issue visually, and the reveals of the clues to the mystery and the villain at the core of it are well-spaced throughout the issue. There’s a strong cliffhanger that implies real peril for Batgirl, as well as a reveal that is 100% guaranteed not to be entirely what it seems to be. (And, no, I”m not gonna spoiler it. You’ll thank me, when you read it.)
THE BOTTOM LINE: SOLID ACTION-ADVENTURE
In short, this issue is good, featuring a young hero doing her thing in her own distinctive way, with a solid supporting cast and a clear motive for her actions. In a way, the creators of Batgirl have captured that lightning that Marvel keeps trying to recapture: The spirit of the best of early Spider-Man, balancing fun and terror and life-threatening drama into an action-adventure story that leaves the reader exhilarated and/or terrified for our hero. Batgirl #48 isn’t showing any signs of stopping, with a solid story, well-crafted art, and a central character you can empathize with and root for, earning a well-deserved 4 out of 5 stars overall. If all the Bat-books were this unique and composed, I’d have six more titles to read every month…[taq_review][signoff predefined=”PayPal Donation” icon=”icon-cog”][/signoff]