Batgirl #31 Review

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Ragdoll’s back!  Cancel Christmas…

Your Major Spoilers review of Batgirl #31 awaits!

Batgirl31CoverBATGIRL #31
Writer: Gail Simone
Penciler: Fernando Pasarin
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Colorist: Blond
Letterer: Dezi Sienty
Editor: Katie Kubert
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Batgirl:  Ever since she returned to action as Batgirl, Barbara Gordon has had to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder from her encounter with the Joker (in ‘The Killing Joke’) as well as clashing with her police commissioner father and being forced to (seemingly) kill her own psychotic brother.  Among the bright spots in her life are her friendship with her new roommate Alysia, and her not-exactly-a-boyfriend Ricky…

…soooo, y’know, I wouldn’t get too attached to either of ‘em.

ALYSIA MAKES A POOR DECISION

As we open the issue, we find Alysia and her friends in media res, having infiltrated the Carter Resnik foundation on a mission of mayhem, but clearly frightened by something following them.  Alysia and Jo take refuge in the stall of a ladies’ restroom, only to have the creepiest re-introduction of the New 52, as they look down to find the super-flexible Rag Doll having crawled through a six-inch gap in the door, informing them that they’re not getting out of this one.  It is, admittedly, a pretty cool opening sequence, and as someone who enjoyed every issue of ‘Secret Six’ back in the wild days of 2009, it’s a welcome return.  Cutting away to Barbara Gordon, we find Babs leery about entering Mercy General Hospital, a building which holds quite a few bad memories for her.  I had honestly forgotten about pseudo-boyfriend Ricky, who was shot by Commissioner Gordon a few months ago, but his return to the forefront of Batgirl’s story brings with it other complications: Ricky is going to sue Barbara’s father for wrongful injury.  As soon as THAT good news blows up in her face, Barbara gets a panicked call from Alysia, still being stalked by the murderous Ragdoll, which at least will allow Barbara to work out some of her frustrations with a little swift and blinding violence…

“THIS IS A TERRIBLE FIRST DATE!”

Visually speaking, this issue is a real treat, as Fernando Pasarin gives us a creepy Ragdoll the likes of which we haven’t seen since Nicola Scott, with every panel making his horrific power to be bendy and gross a little bit more disturbing.  Batgirl’s big damn heroes moment is a breath-taking full-page spread, while Batgirl and Rags fighting hand to hand is impressive as well, and a romantic moment between Alysia and Jo strikes the right balance of heartfelt and a little bit naughty at once, especially given their panic.  (Jo’s smeared eye makeup from crying is a wonderful touch.)  The wrap-up of the conflict is nicely handled, and references the nefarious Mister Rain, seen in the Batgirl Annual earlier this month.  I do believe he’s being set up as a recurring big bad, and is somehow tied up with the villainous Knightfall, also seen in this issue. The issue ends with a little karmic justice dealt out by Ragdoll (albeit on a middleman rather than one of the real villains) and a promise of more conflict in the near future.

THE BOTTOM LINE: A NICE CHANGE OF PACE

I think my favorite part of the issue comes in a brief cellphone conversation that Ragdoll has with an unknown party who is clearly Vandal Savage, but all of his dialogue is wonderful, leaving me wanting to take a shower in most cases.  Alysia getting a romance is nice, as are the complications in Barbara’s thing with Ricky, but DC’s editorial schedule has led to this issue feeling a bit odd.  Ricky’s shooting took place at least six months ago, real-time, which makes it difficult to put all the pieces in place this time around, but the excellence of the artwork makes up for a number of those oddities.  Batgirl #31 gets the job done with charisma, but still has a few rough edges here and there, with well-crafted dialogue and wonderful art, shaking down for 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.  Here’s hoping a full-scale reunion/revival of the Secret Six is in the cards soon…