Batgirl doesn’t bother making a gentle segue from last month’s Gothtopia tie-in to its latest storyline and that will make for an awkward transition when these comics finally go to trade paperback, but if we set that complaint aside then I think this is a good jumping-on point for an all-new arc that features an intriguing new villain.
Writer Gail Simone loves expanding Batgirl’s rogues gallery and while it’s a cast that’s been rather hit-or-miss, the latest baddie called “Silver” has potential. You’ll be introduced to him on the very first page and while I don’t care much for his character design, his motivation is certainly unique. Silver is yet another wealthy Gothamite who wants to use his fortune for unconventional purposes but rather than pour that money into his own Batman-style suit of armor or attempt to conquer Gotham’s mob, he actually views himself as a freedom fighter in a supernatural war. You see, Silver believes that all of these Bat-themed “Superheroes” are actually vampires and the entire city is being bent to their will. Somehow these creatures of the night have deluded the public into thinking that they are do-gooders when they are actually false messiahs who feed on the innocent. Silver is a vampire hunter who has been preparing for this war for a long time and tonight he’s going after the bat-clan with aims to save the city once and for all. Meanwhile, Batgirl has teamed up with fellow Birds of Prey member Strix to try and find a missing girl who, like Strix, is mute.
It all sounds quite cool to me and it made for a really entertaining read that I suggest fans hop aboard, but there are a number of hiccups throughout. Some of these problems are just unanswered questions that I can’t really put a strike against Batgirl #28 for because a thorough explanation won’t come until the next chapter– I am super-perplexed though and my overall view of this storyline will hinge on what’s next. As for things that give me reservations that don’t depend on issue #29 pulling its weight, those include a scene where (details will go in spoiler tags below) Barbara/Strix contradicted themselves about how they would approach the rescue of the missing girl, an unintentionally funny moment where nobody commented on how strange Strix looked out in public with bandages covering her face, and the villains poorly thought-out attack.
While I’m definitely apprehensive about what this 2-part story could ultimately become if the next chapter doesn’t pay off everything set up here, Batgirl #28 is… for now… a fun read. The funny and sentimental scenes between Batgirl and Strix worked, the villain felt fresh, and I liked the artwork by Pasarin and Glapion overall. There are moments where the faces seem a little similar (on the long-side) but action is handled well with the backgrounds blurred for a more dynamic effect and the world Batgirl inhabits has a great amount of detail and really feels alive. Blond’s colors really push the visuals over the top, but I must also commend the letterer Dezi Sienty for not taking the easy way out with an integral scene that used a lot of in-world reading material. All too often letterers will just write one big headline followed by “asdfjkl asdfjkl” whenever there’s a letter or newspaper shown in a comic.
More in-depth comments and criticisms about the story can be found in the spoiler tags below.
- It says a lot that Barbara would rather cooperate with Knightfall than Batman. The hatred over what happened in “Death of the Family” must run pretty deep if we are to believe that Barbara would turn to what could be her arch-enemy first. What’s even more confounding about Barbara asking Knightfall for help is that it’s the first thing she does as soon as she agrees to help Strix find the missing child. As soon as Strix requests Barbara’s aid, Barbara rightfully asks “Why don’t we call up the rest of the Birds of Prey?” and Strix says “You’re a detective” (well, she writes in on a notepad). But that still doesn’t explain why they wouldn’t want more people helping out along with the detective. And obviously Strix is cool with others helping out because Barbara asks Knightfall! Why wouldn’t Barbara just call up the other Birds of Prey herself? I’m sure that owing a favor to Knightfall down the line is a neat setup for future storytelling, but it was tackled in a sloppy way that doesn’t make much sense when our hero has SO many other options available
- I loved the part where Barbara said “Let me zip-tie these creeps for the cops and then we’ll find your girl.” It was such a great little touch, such a minor detail that’s always overlooked. We don’t see the bad guys get tied up enough anymore, but it’s a very necessary aspect of what the crimefighters do. Plus Barbara’s casual, lighthearted way of saying it was true to her character. I also liked how Fernando Pasarin actually drew a great big bundle of zip ties in Babs’ hand.
- I’m not sure why we haven’t done away with the gigantic bandages on Strix’s face. In fact, the scene where Barbara and Strix prepair to hit the streets out-of-costume was the best opportunity to have a sentimental “You don’t need to hide these.” moment. Leaving them on as she and Barbara pretended to be cops was distracting and it’s hilarious to see the people she and Barbara talk to did not acknowledge it. I mean, if some “cops” showed up at your doorstep in the middle of the night for you to tell the same story again and one of them appears to be a girl in her early 20’s and the other looks an awful lot like Darkman, wouldn’t you be a little suspicious?
And as for the unanswered questions… there are a few:
- How did Silver know that Barbara was Batgirl?
- Why does he believe that the mute daughter of a middle class family is the leader of Gotham’s vampires? This one threw me for a hell of a loop and the next issue better have it make sense because it does NOT. The whole “I hate these Bat-heroes because Bat-People must be vampires” fits, but for him to capture a little mute girl and suspect she’s the leader of Batman and… what? WHAT?
- How did Silver know that Batgirl and Strix would be going to the little girl’s house? I guess he overheard them while he was watching them from a distance but if he heard that exchange then wouldn’t it be obvious that these two aren’t vampires since they have no knowledge of the little girl? I guess you can’t reason with crazy. And again, his plan was to just ambush them in the middle of the street? After all his preparations, that was it? He didn’t attack them earlier in the comic because they had just “fed” but what is this, one? Two hours later?
- You love the Strix/Babs dynamic
- Batgirl vs. a confused vampire hunter sounds like an exciting concept for a 2-parter
- You’ve been waiting for a jumping-on point
It’s a good jumping on point, the villain has potential and there are some fun moments with Babs and Strix. On the downside, there are some questionable art choices here and there and there are a number of things that currently make no sense and if the next chapter in this 2-part story doesn’t clear things up then this will have all been a big waste of time. Batgirl #28 is good… but the next issue is going to be a gamble.