NOTE: I recommend that you read Detective Comics #27 before reading this comic or any review. I’m going to avoid any major spoilers from this issue, but in order to discuss it at all I’ll need to mention what happened in Layman & Fabok’s story that kicked-off “Gothtopia,” particularly the villain who is seemingly responsible
Jesus Christ! Even when the subject is Gothtopia, a vision of a Utopian Gotham City where everyone is safe and the skies are always clear and sunny, Gail Simone manages to make Batgirl the darkest Bat-title with the highest body count around. For crying out loud, there’s even a scene where children are held at gunpoint!
Things start out interesting enough. We see the bright and chipper Gotham, a Barbara who is going to college and living at home with her father, and, as we saw in Detective Comics #27, she loves to go out and fight crime as the superhero “Bluebelle.” Unlike last week’s Batwing tie-in, Batgirl #27 features more of the quirky little twists on the typical status quo that made Layman’s original story so fun. Turning the page to discover some other bizarrely happy-go-lucky transformation in Barbara’s life is enjoyable and it was also a pleasure to see her apparently having fun being a superhero and her comradery with a surprise sidekick was also refreshing. But that doesn’t last.
Just as in Batwing #27, the illusion surrounding Batgirl begins to crack only in a far, far less subtle way. Rather than illustrate a growing sense of unease caused by reports of suicides (other Gothamites waking up from “Gothtopia”), Simone instead takes a Joker Easter Egg from Detective Comics #27 and beats us over the head with it all while flat-out murdering a sizeable portion of the Gotham population. Oddly enough, Batgirl describes the dead as being children (which would make sense given the delivery system for what kills them), but the bodies you’ll see on the ground and the folks lining up as potential victims are all drawn as full-grown adults, which definitely strikes me as if a censor or two stepped in and had the book’s content toned down a tad (which is nice since we already saw Harley kill hundreds of kids just a few months ago).
While the other Gothtopia tie-in focused on the titular hero alone, Batgirl #27 follows both the soon-to-awake Batgirl and an average Gotham citizen who has already realized that none of this is real. And while I do think that the violent direction this narrative took was too drastic, I did like that Simone finally gave a voice to one of the many, many otherwise nameless victims of Gotham’s supervillains and I think many readers will appreciate the way it connects to Death of the Family as well. However, this Gothamite’s place in the grand Gothtopia illusion didn’t really fit in with the idea of everyone getting what they want. I’ll explain further in spoiler tags, but I really hope that these complex hallucinations have a good explanation. Saying that it’s all just a result of Scarecrow’s new toxin simply isn’t going to cut it at this point. Everyone in the city isn’t just imaging a perfect world, they are imagining the same perfect world.
Once again, the latest issue of Batgirl features a cover by Alex Garner that looks fantastic, but the interiors by Robert Gill are far less satisfying and I can’t help but wonder who decided on Barbara’s Gothtopia costume. When I think “Bluebelle” I think ice cream
- You’re interested in some supplemental material to the series’ Death of the Family tie-in
- The concept of Gothtopia, an imagined Gotham that is the safest city in America, intrigues you
- You’re okay with a tie-in that doesn’t contribute a whole lot to the main Gothtopia storyline and won’t even matter to this title come next month. To find out the end of Batgirl’s Gothtopia adventure, you’ll need to read Detective Comics #28. I can’t imagine this chapter will fit very well in its eventual TPB
I was really underwhelmed by this one. I liked that Gail Simone explored the effect Gotham’s villains have on the lives of average citizens, but the Batgirl title once again goes too dark, features a great cover but lackluster interiors, and as a tie-in issue it doesn’t offer anything substantial to the Gothtopia event. It’s not terrible, but I think you can skip it. It’s filler.