Alysia, Barbara’s roommate, is raiding a corporate building with a small group of activists when they are accosted by the villain known as Ragdoll. Meanwhile, Barbara Gordon is summoned to the hospital by her kind-of/sort-of boyfriend Ricky, who may be looking to break-up with Barbara.
This issue sees the return of Gail Simone to writing duties, but it starts off feeling rather familiar to fill-in writer Marguerite Bennett’s issue #30, which had scared kids hiding from a monster. The difference is that we aren’t in a house, these aren’t kids, and Ragdoll is… well, I guess Ragdoll is kind of a monster, but a fun one. However, the horror movie feel wears off pretty quickly and we’re instead treated to a greater conspiracy that not only references the recent Batgirl Annual #2, but hints at future stories to come.
It’s a bit of a sampler platter for what’s next in this series and a good jumping on point for new readers. However, those who didn’t read Batgirl Annual #2 might be confused by mentions of a “Mr. Rain.” Honestly, I read the annual and even I was thrown off because I could’ve swore Mr. Rain died or was apprehended at the end of that oversized comic. Frankly, that issue was great for its portrayal of Poison Ivy, but the story itself was, well, forgettable as you can tell by my complete loss at the moment.
While we do get teases at Barbara under constant surveillance and more drama with Ricky, it all kind of falls flat with the greater tension being Alysia at the mercy of Ragdoll. For doing so little in the issue, Ragdoll is definitely entertaining and proves to be one of the more enjoyable villains to see Batgirl go up against. Best of all, it doesn’t play out quite like you’d expect!
I put more commentary on the story in the spoiler tags below; I talk about business hours, Ragdoll’s resume, and why Ricky sucks. But overall it was a fairly good comic. A nice done-in-one issue with a fun baddie a few a surprises.
- The activists are raiding the building of a major corporation, but despite the building appearing absolutely empty it’s still visiting hours at the bustling hospital where Barbara s at so it can’t be all that late. Then later in the issue Ragdoll explains that the “stink bomb” that Alysia has is actually nerve gas and she would’ve killed everyone in the building– who? We never see anyone in the building. It looks like everyone would be fine. We even get an establishing shot on the first panel of the comic and not a single window is illuminated! The building is empty. At best, if the terrorist act succeeded maybe a couple of security guards would die before the area would be quarantined.
- Why would this corporation hire the unhinged Ragdoll to do the job of working security in their building? He’s absolutely insane! There are so many better options. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he was in the book, he was the best part, but it makes no logical sense for him to be here. Imagine: Sir, someone’s going to break into your building and detonate a weapon, what should we– “Get me that really crazy guy who dresses like a doll and is flexible. Very flexible!”
- Let’s talk about Ricky: Ricky sucks. Gail Simone originally introduced him as a scraggly 16 year old kid in over his head on Gotham’s mean streets. Then Ray Fawkes came in for a filler episode or two and suddenly Ricky was a handsome, square jawed 19 year old and Barbara’s new love interest. It’s very forced. Barbara had one interaction with a male character and he was labeled the love interest as a result, which seems lazy to me and the two have zero chemistry together. So that’s my complaint about him prior to this issue, but now he’s announcing that he’s not going to break up with Barbara, he’s just going to sue her dad for shooting him a few issues back. That’s one thing, but keep in mind that in he very last issue of Batgirl we had a reference to the end of Forever Evil #7 and in this month’s Detective Comics #31 we had a reference to Gordon being in jail. So signs are pointing to all of the current New 52 comics taking place after Forever Evil and concurrent with Batman Eternal. This means that Gordon SHOULD be in jail and Ricky SHOULD know that Barbara, his girlfriend, is upset about her dad being wrongly accused and yet he’s STILL going to sue him. But really this is just bad timing from the publisher. This issue was delayed a month so really Gordon should still be out of jail and the events of Eternal still haven’t begun. I mean, we didn’t get any mention of Barbara being upset about her father being locked up in this issue. So when you read #31, pretend it’s pre-Eternal.
- Alysia’s gotta know Barbara is Batgirl, right?
The cover by Alex Garner is breathtaking, but the interiors by Fernando Pasarin waver from time to time. There’s one reaction shot in particular, a close-up of Barbara that looked slightly off with her facial features appearing slightly too small for her head. Also the reveal of Ragdoll didn’t have as much impact because the eyes lacked the expressiveness present throughout the rest of the book. Any other page with Ragdoll was terrific. The action sequences between him and Batgirl are great and Pasarin did a fine job of showing off the villains bizarrely bendy physiology.
Lastly, I’m going to make this a regular feature on every issue of Batgirl:
In issue #31, did Batgirl lose control of her anger or did she cry? Answer:
- Secret Six was a comic you loved and you’d like to see more from Ragdoll
- Alysia is a supporting character you’d like to see more from
- You’re looking for a good jumping-on point for this series. The comic hints at a future storylines to come, giving you a nice sampling
It’s a so-so story, but it’s a good jumping-on point for new readers and it features a fun villain.