I knew things were bad when I put down the comic halfway through just so I could complain about it to a friend. Issue #8 is filled with some of the dumbest Batgirl moments I’ve seen and even while riding the coattails of “The Killing Joke” and “The Black Mirror” falls completely flat. But seeing as how I’ve already written 2 negative reviews today, I’ll start with the positive:
A great one-page fight with no captions so the art could speak for itself. And seeing her catch his head right before it smacks the curb was a very nice touch. Wonderful. The art as a whole is quite good and the three pencilers involved produced work that flowed together seamlessly.
#2 The moment that this entire 2-issue story has been built around. Although it’s all kind of pointless in the end, the moment when Barbara finally confronts the Joker’s old henchman was actually an alright scene.
Now on to the negative. That didn’t take long did it?
#1 If you’ve seen the preview for this at ComicVine or IGN or Maxim or CBR or whoever else posts these things then you’ll see that Barbara lets Danny the Weasel go. Since you’re the sort of person that reads comic book reviews, chances are you know the typical beats and assumed that she let Danny the Weasel go so she could track him to this arc’s throwaway villain, Grotesque (there would even be the cliche panel showing a closeup of a bat symbol shaped tracking device stuck to the bad guy’s shirt!). Or maybe you went a bit deeper and thought Barbara just wanted him out of her sight before she went too far. Wrong. And maybe if you finished the book already you thought
#2 She never even tries to track down the main bad guy, Grotesque. The only reason there is a final fight at the end of this book between them is pure chance. She went to that apartment to find Danny the Weasel and seemed to have forgotten about Grotesque completely.
#3 This issue picks up exactly where issue #7 left off. In issue #7 Batgirl’s cape has purple lining; in #8 her cape has bright yellow lining. Both issues were colored by Ulises Arreola. Was he ordered to make her cape yellow for this issue? That’s the only thing that makes sense to me.
And it’s all spoiler territory from here on out so just skip to the bottom paragraph if you want a quick rundown of my feelings on it. Or just take my word for it right now that I’ll say I didn’t like it and I don’t recommend anyone buy it.
#4 Barbara and Barbara look exactly alike. It’s bad enough that mother and daughter share the same name, but they also have the same hair, face, hairstyle, hair color, and height.
#5 Barbara Gordon sr. left her family because she was threatened by her 10 year old son. In this moment she became one of the worst mothers I’ve ever seen in comics. Really? Your 10 year old son killed the cat and then threatened to kill your daughter and the rest of the family if you didn’t leave so you decided to flee without any explanation? First of all, if your husband is the police commissioner and your police commissioner husband’s best friend is THE BATMAN– you don’t turn tail and run from a punkass 10 year old. I don’t care how many cats he’s killed. In “The Black Mirror” where Jim Jr. was first introduced he told a story of how his dad tossed him in Arkham for acting up as a kid. I think he would take the proper precautions to protect his family if you told him about this crap. Secondly, even if your husband wasn’t Jim ****ing Gordon and he wasn’t best friends with the God**** Batman, you’re his MOTHER and he’s 10 YEARS OLD! Get him to a child psychologist ASAP. But no. She abandoned her entire family with a psychopath and no warning. At least give a warning: make a phone call, send a text, leave a note (somewhere high where a ten year old can’t reach). He may be a genius serial killer in the making, but he’s only 10 now. Woman-up!
#6 The connection with “The Killing Joke” added nothing to “The Killing Joke” and nothing to the “Batgirl” series. Barbara has always wanted to know why Danny the Weasel phoned an ambulance for her. Now she knows it was because she never begged or cried. It was because she was such a damn strong woman whose bravery in the face of death shook this crook to his core and he had to save her. That’s great and all, really quite good. But we’ve already had 2 arcs in a row that have dealt with Barbara learning that deep down she really is tough and can be the hero she wants to be. This series didn’t need another one. If anything, those other two could have been cut and this arc could have been made longer and more profound and it would’ve kicked this series off with a real bang. But that’s not what happened and instead the ending of this felt redundant and didn’t change anything.
#8 Grotesque was an incredibly cheap enemy (and also a mutant of some kind…which has no business in a Batman story in my opinion. I don’t even view Croc as a mutant. He’ll always just be a guy with a skin condition and filed teeth to me). The guy vanished or teleported or something in the last issue. She was staring him right in the face and he disappeared. The caption said he “pulled a Batman” and slipped away, but they were looking right at each other. Even Batman isn’t that good. He also has the power to wield electricity, even saying that he can harness the power of the above electrical storm. How does she beat him? Punches him when he isn’t looking.
#9 Lines like “You have no right to…to hurt people like this!” and “It’s this city. It has to be. It grows evil…like a…like a virus!” and “Guess you’re going to give me to the cops, right? That’s what Bat-People do.” and “Fine. Make it hard.” (that’s what she said)
#10 The return of James Junior. Now, I loved “The Black Mirror”, it was a great story, but I didn’t think that James Jr. needed to be a serial killer. It’s too much. It took things way too far. Gordon sr. didn’t need MORE tragedy in his life. If you wanted him to be bad then make him a younger kid who keeps mixing up with gangs or small robberies or something and Batman is always having to bring him back to Jim and they’re fighting for his soul or something. Stretch it out and have Jim try to raise a decent man in a city that can only grow criminals. Having Jim jr. grow up to be a full-blown serial murderer felt far to extreme for me but I accepted it and enjoyed the story which was very, very good. But my other problem with making Jim Jr. a killer is that I feared it would lead to him becoming another villain who constantly escapes Arkham and that looks to be happening now. Turning Junior into a recurring villain is too much.
FINAL (SPOILER FREE) THOUGHTS
It’s not a bad looking issue and it’s a very ambitious issue, but I hated pretty much every minute of it. The art, which was good, can’t even persuade me to give it a higher score. I can’t recommend it.