REVIEW: Batgirl #19
Or – “In Honor Of Two-Face, It’s A Double-Dose Of Bats…”
There has been a lot of talk on the internet about the events of the latest issue of Gail Simone’s Batgirl title. What’s all the rumbling about? Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
Previously, in Batgirl: Barbara Gordon’s life as Batgirl has been complicated not only by super-villains and the battles that come with being part of the Bat-family, but also by the wack-jobbery of her brother James Gordon, Jr. Now, James has brought their ongoing battles to a head, threatening her friends and even their parents, causing Batgirl to believe that he must be stopped… but will she have to resort to lethal force to do it?
THE BIG REVEAL COMES EARLY…
The thing about New 52 Batgirl that has never wavered is the emotional core of the character and the book. We open with the perfect illustration of that heart, as Barbara Gordon returns home to her apartment for the first time since the feces struck the rotating blades back in issue #14. She is confronted by a justifiably ticked-off roommate, but Alysia’s anger quickly melts in the knowledge that her friend is unharmed, having feared the worst about Barbara’s situation, what with all the murderers flitting about. Their conversation is tear-filled and touching, ending with the revelation from Alysia that most of the world has already heard about: She’s transgender. That moment is followed almost immediately by Babs getting a call which requires her to be Batgirl and running off into the night. I have to say, I very much like the balance in that revelation, with Alysia finally coming clean about her secret, only to have Barbara unable (or unwilling) to share her own. Of all the big ‘WTF’ moments, this one works the best for me, but there’s some irony in the fact that it’s NOT the moment we see on the spoileriffic gatefold cover.
WHERE’S ADMIRAL ACKBAR WHEN YOU NEED HIM?
From an art perspective, I like this issue a lot, as Sampere and company connect a lot of story-telling dots, including a strong resemblance between Barbara Gordon and her mother, as well as Jim and his father Commissioner Gordon. The moodiness of the second half of the issue is really successful as well, as Mrs. Gordon confronts James Jr. at the old abandoned Gotham City aquarium, baiting a trap that closes when daughter Batgirl arrives. The confrontation is incredibly tense and engaging, ending with a moment that makes the cover gimmick very successful, gives Babs no less than three “Hell YEAH!” moments, and ends with a cliffhanger that dares to break your heart just a little bit more, at a point where I thought that impossible.
THE BOTTOM LINE: HOLY CRAP, THAT WAS INTENSE…
In short, I came for the hype and stayed for the strong story-telling and lovely character work. Alysia’s reveal and Barbara’s response to it (“The people I love call me Babs…”) brought a little mist to my eyes, followed immediately by the whiplash of an incredibly charged confrontation in the second half. Gail Simone’s return to this book after the silly drama of her exit and return really hits the spot for me. Seeing Alysia’s confession was, to be honest, the reason I picked up the book, and it’s a moment done very well. I especially liked how it wasn’t a “Very Special Issue” (at least not for THAT reason), but a perfectly organic part of the story, and made sense in the context of the characters dealing with the madness that had been the last five issues of their life. Batgirl #19 is a good one, successfully navigating what could have been an awkward PSA moment in less-skilled hands, transitioning seamlessly into a satisfying confrontation that was much more than just the fighty-fighty, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars overall.
DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!