Batgirl is a dark comic where a variety of awful things happen to our heroine in every issue, but no installment was as brutal as part one of Batgirl: Wanted. In that chapter we saw Ricky, the boy Barbara had just started dating, racing to save the life of his brother but along the way he ended up being chased by the cops. During the pursuit, Detective McKenna was seriously injured and the apparent attack necessitated the call for even more Gotham Police. Barbara eventually caught up with Ricky and together they fought to save the captive brother. However, during the fight, Ricky aimed a gun at one of the abductors just as police arrived on the scene and was promptly shot by none other than Jim Gordon, Barbara’s father. It was a heartbreaking moment for Jim who did what he felt he had to do even though he knew that the boy was dating his daughter.
It was a heck of a way to end a comic by having Barbara cornered by the police as she cradled the apparently dead Ricky in her arms. And with Villains Month putting our story on hiatus for a month, anticipation was quite high to see what happened next and what I saw here today was pretty disappointing. Right from the start we lose quite a bit of tension. Ricky isn’t actually dead, McKenna is A-Okay, and Barbara isn’t even that cornered. Despite shots being fired on Ricky for aiming a weapon at a gangbanger, Barbara is able to take a police baton to the heads of several officers without any of the other cops opening fire on her. You could blame them for being totally inept but what more could you expect when their leader is Jim Gordon, a man who still can’t see that it’s his daughter everyone is fighting at this very moment. Jim, the girl is the same size and height as your daughter, same eyes, same voice, same hair length and color, and she’s crying over the body of Ricky, who you know as potentially being your daughter’s boyfriend! Writer Gail Simone’s Jim Gordon is the worst Jim Gordon in my opinion. I know I always complained that there wasn’t enough Jim Gordon in this book, but if this is seriously how the character is going to be written, I take it all back!
The rest of the issue features Barbara Gordon sulking (nothing out of the ordinary there) and trying to cope with the aftermath of issue #23 by interacting with her roommate and Ricky’s family. She avoids her father’s calls during his most desperate hour and we see the Commissioner sink into depression (does every character in this book have to mope? come on!). But are any of these relationships effective? How many close, confiding moments have we actually seen between father and daughter? Does anyone really care about Ricky? Does anyone feel like Barbara is in the right by giving up the Bat-mantle after apparently killing her brother? Do you get the sense that Barbara and her roommate are actually great friends? There’s too much value placed on many of the comic’s relationships that simply haven’t earned it. Barbara refers to Ricky has her boyfriend, but they’ve only had one date. Barbara weeps over the loss of her brother, but we’ve never seen a flashback to a time that Barbara wasn’t creeped the hell out by Junior. And the roommate (who is back to saying “Gordon Barbara Gordon” which is just… it’s annoying) and Barbara have gone to the mall together once (which went terribly, by the way) but they never hang out. They never bond. And what is Barbara doing for money? 24 issues in and I still don’t know what her job is.
While most of the book is overwhelmingly bleak, we are pulled out of the depths of despair briefly in the final pages when a band of costumed evil-doers show up to cause some havoc. Unfortunately, in order to see what happens next we’ll all have to wait another 2 months. Again. You see, next month is Zero Month and that means that the storylines of many books are going to be interrupted for a good ol’ fashioned cash-grab.
I have more to say about the story, but I’ll put it in spoilers:
Knightfall makes an appearance in the issue and her plan makes no sense. She wants to wipe out the gangs by arming one gang to the teeth so that they’ll kill every other rival group in the city. That’s cool, right? My next thought would be: and then she’ll sabotage/kill the gang she endorsed? But no, she then finds someone else and arms them in the same way, which would just cause a repeating cycle. It reminds me of that episode of The Simpsons where to get rid of an infestation of lizards they bring in snakes and to get rid of the snakes they’ll bring in Gorillas– but at least in Springfield they knew the Gorillas would freeze to death in the Winter.
Barbara is totally unprepared to fight the bad guys at the end of the book except for a single Batgirl uniform. How the heck is she this unprepared when she is driving her mobile fortress? Don’t tell us in one issue that she has a perfect memory and then portray her as being forgetful and ill-prepared in the next.
- You cared about Ricky
- You want to start seeing some pay-off from Knightfall’s recruitment of all those Batgirl rogues
- You like Fernando Pasarin’s artwork. He does a fine job here, especially in the quiet moments
- You want to read something depressing
This issue gets a “meh.” and a shrug from me. There’s some decent action, it’s well drawn, and we even have some surprise cameos, but too many nonsensical things happened that made me shake my head. This series does a good job of making the Gordons look tough, but they sure aren’t smart.