After providing the voice and adventures for Batgirl since the advent of the New 52, Gail Simone officially ends her tenure with Batgirl with an issue titled (interestingly) “Crash and Burn”. It’s been a bumpy ride to be sure, but it looks like she’s found a new home with Sensation Comics writing Wonder Woman, and I can only imagine that a fresh start on an exciting new series will be a good thing for her.

So how fares her final bow in Batgirl No. 34? This has been an intense three-issue arc and there was a lot of set up in the last issue, so the feeling of having to bring everything to a close definitely marks this book in ways that are both good and bad.

Last we saw, Batgirl was calling every female superhero in a twenty-mile radius as she plotted Knightfall’s takedown. This, along with the Black Canary and Huntress team-up set up some mighty expectations and in many ways this book delivers on those promises. But given that the creative team has 20 pages to try to bat so many balls in the air, you can surmise that some of the details are going to get short shrift.

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Bat boat!

The Good

This is an action-packed issue and despite the crunch for story-telling time, Simone addresses just about everything that needs addressing. Aside from the fact of Barbara’s father still being in jail, she neatly snips all the loose threads and provides a springboard from which the new incoming team can launch in its new direction. So you get to see every villain that could possibly leave doubt as to a clean sweep otherwise: Knightfall, Bonebreaker, Gretel, and Grotesque are all present and accounted for.

Batgirl_34_02A veritable who’s who of heroes and villains!

Alex Garner’s final cover is one of his best. It seems doubtful that he will continue doing covers for Batgirl (though one can’t be too certain), but it’s nice to see his work elsewhere and be assured that we’ll still get to see his awesome flair on other Bat-titles.

The Bad

One can only think the editorial decision to flip the teams came on pretty sudden because Simone spent a lot of energy developing Muni (Obscura), who, though she plays her part, doesn’t exactly feel critical at this juncture. Maybe we will be seeing the character again, but for now she’s just one of nearly a dozen women brought in to help fight Knightfall in this last battle. The same goes for Black Canary and Huntress, though at least those two fight alongside Batgirl and don’t just get a panel or two showing them sweeping up.

Detective McKenna rescues Ricky and his mother (though she doesn’t know why she’s doing it–not much of a detective, eh?). Another case in which making the connections should be so ridiculously obvious. Still, I’m really hoping this is close to the last we ever hear of the legless sorta-boyfriend.

Also, while bringing down Knightfall’s organization was clever, the final moment between Charise and Batgirl does push credulity:

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Batgirl unhinges this immensely powerful woman with a mere snapshot evoking her tragic past and Charise responds by confessing that James Jr. is still alive (which Barbara believes, of course). It’s a little too easy.

That said, I wasn’t disappointed since I was glad to see this particular bit of family drama wrapped up–it just didn’t need to linger anymore and is as good a story reason as any to push Barbara into another place emotionally.

And, we only got one great shot of the Bat boat?

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After which Knightfall orders Gretel to promptly blow it right out of the water. Dang.

The Ugly

Unfortunately, I have complained of Pasarin’s art in my Batgirl reviews from the start and there’s nothing here that changes my general opinion. But rather than speak ill of it for this final issue, I will commend his Bat boat, the fact that nothing here looks rushed or half-hearted, and will confine any further remarks to the fact that it will be really interesting to see what a different look Babs Tarr will be giving this book starting in September.

Some Final Thoughts on this Transition

I confess I was surprised at the two pages spent concluding this issue. I’ve been moderately following the online buzz about Batgirl of Burnside and admit fell into some impressions about the “clean start” that Barbara would be taking with her move to the burbs.

So what happens?

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It’s all a bit rushed, again, but Barbara invites Alysia to move with her. This came as a complete surprise to me. First of all, I’d really prefer to see a clean break from this world and the next in terms of the supporting cast (it will be interesting to see how Alysia fares in this new setting). Secondly: just too much crying and hugging! Especially since, hello, Dad is still in prison and there is still chaos in the streets and this seems like a really weird moment to get all emotional about splitting town with your friend who you’ve probably traumatized for life through her involvement with all this stuff to begin with (seriously: Alysia seems to spend all her time sitting around on the couch watching TV in a depressive funk).

And so it goes. I really appreciate the work that Simone did on this book and she leaves behind a lot of really strong issues in a laudable run that only suffered from what feels like editorial shortsightedness that hopefully will no longer be a problem in the future.

Who’s looking forward to the new team? Who’s sad to see the departure of the old? Sound off!

For me, it’s a little bit of both, certainly.

Recommended If…

  • A complete cast of female heroes (and villains) sounds like a good way to spend a comic book read.
  • You enjoy seeing everything and the kitchen sink thrown at the principal villain to resolve a storyline.
  • Check out that Bat boat (albeit briefly)!
  • It would be nice to wish the current creative team a fond farewell.

Overall

Simone manages to wrap this up and doesn’t limp off stage left without some grand pyrotechnic storytelling. Does it satisfy? Problems with the art and the fact that there’s a definite sense of a rush to close up aside, the Knightfall saga comes to a sufficient conclusion (for now) and sets up the big changes pending for Batgirl No. 35. The buzz about Batgirl’s life “blowing up”, however, shouldn’t be taken literally–not for this exeunt, at least.

SCORE: 6.5/10