Batgirl confronts Livewire and, in turn, is confronted by the “new” Batman in this issue titled “Interference”, which picks up in the muddle that is post Endgame, post Convergence. Does Batgirl know that Batman is allegedly dead? If she does, she doesn’t mention it–kind of like how she never mentioned her father during the entire concurrent run with Eternal. And speaking of Jim Gordon, guess who shows up (literally waltzing into her residence as if he’s never been away)? This issue doesn’t play too much pick up and writers Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart don’t waste too much time recapping (which is a good thing). A handful of lines of exposition remind us that Batgirl has been outed to Frankie, who is now her Penny One, and that Frankie’s former social media employer, the dating app called Hooq has gone down in flames after Batgirl’s sentient computer twin threatened to destroy the world.
All caught up then? The big question, of course, for any of you who were warbling about this title at the end of the last arc is whether you should bother coming back to it since the natural break caused by Convergence means you have had the opportunity to flee.
Here’s the bottom line about Batgirl: it’s evidently popular enough that its current creative team is here to stay. Babs is not going to grow up any time soon and this book is not going to get any less cartoony. So if you’re on board, issue no. 41 brings more of the same. If you’ve had it with the yellow Doc Martens, then there’s no point in you picking this up.
On the other hand, there’s Bat-Chappie, if that’s what you want
Even if Jim Gordon waltzing back into Babs’ life this easily is beyond weird, it’s more than welcome. This book even gets a whole extra point for making a big fuss about Gordon’s missing moustache (daughters know what’s best for fathers’ faces). And even though I would freak out if my roommate gave their father a key to our apartment to just arrive unannounced, we’ll give that bit of weirdness a pass on the strength of just seeing Babs and Dad together again. Better still, Dad’s come over to tell his daughter important news. Do I spoil it? Can you guess?
Somehow being Batman inhibits the growth of facial hair. Learn something new every day!
Meanwhile, Livewire is a good villain for Batgirl. She gets summoned out of Stryker’s Prison by some weird Hooq cultists and though she’s a bit confused at first, Batgirl is kind enough to remind her that she’s a supervillain bent on destruction, which she then begins to carry out with glee. Way to go Babs. Unfortunately we don’t get to see much of her this issue as once she recollects her full potential, she’s punched off into the electrical grid out of reach (for the moment).
But first: let’s blow up some cars!
There’s so much going on in this series generally that a lot of threads have been dropped for the moment to focus on the immediate concern of Livewire, Gordon, and Bat-Chappie. This is a good thing–less ping-ponging among a dozen characters, less irrelevant swooning over generic cop boyfriends or various other “filler” concerns. While I appreciate that the writers are trying to build a layered and complex world for Barbara to inhabit, this book actually reads a lot easier for not bogging down in those (often unnecessary) complexities.
Babs Tarr turns in a book that feels uncharacteristically hurried and uneven. Babs (the character) looks more starry-eyed and pouty than ever, and much of her gymnastics feel unnatural and unwarranted. Why, for example, does Batgirl need to execute a backflip into a hole in the floor to leap down on the Hooq cult? Also, some of the environments are just not great. The opening scene of the estate with the gate that has a weird haze around in and between the bars struck me as unfinished. Even the colorist could have darkened those areas to hide the fact that the house wasn’t drawn behind it. Worse yet, that image is simply copied and pasted to serve as an establishing shot later in the book (complete with the same bats–they could have at least edited the bats!).
And that Bat-Chappie is doing great work for the GCPD. They bust up a cult stocking missiles, but don’t bother to dismantle their weird electro-summoning chamber? Not a single strip of police tape even in sight. And how is that suit supposed to work anyway? Gordon is a man of very average size. Walking in the park with his daughter he barely stands above her, but by the final page, in the suit, he’s at least seven feet tall. I’m all for suspending disbelief, but really?
How better to make one hate the central character of a book than to have her lie repeatedly to her good ol’ Dad? Especially in the face of his absolute honesty. She doesn’t deserve him as a father. It’s perhaps a positive measure of this book that the scene between Gordon and his daughter is able to elicit such a strong reaction from me, but I can’t say it’s ever a good thing to make your audience hate your title character so much that they want Bat-Chappie to squash her like a bug.
In fairness, Gail Simone, previous (and much-lauded) writer of this book had Babs behave just as badly (and frankly, I hated that too). For a girl with genius-level intelligence, she sure is stupid. Not to say that Babs doesn’t have cause to be concerned about revealing her identity, but at this point it feels like she has everything to gain and very little to lose.
Just tell him already. Criminey.
- You like the father-daughter bond between Babs and her Dad.
- You’re following Bat-Chappie around the DCU to gauge how many jokes and/or self-deprecating remarks other characters say about him.
- This is a good starting place if you want to climb on board and see what this book is all about.
This book continues its highwire balancing act by streamlining its story, though, strangely, the art seems to suffer for it. There’s a brief flashback of Batman, which is nice, but no mention of the events of Endgame, which is strange. If Babs doesn’t know that Batman is “dead”, this is going to be a strange way for her to find out. And if she does know, this book missed a big opportunity to close the Joker chapter of her life. While we wait to see if Endgame will have any impact on this title whatsoever, the introduction of Livewire and the complication of Bat-Chappie should be entertaining enough and the cliff-hanger ending will have you wanting to pick up issue no. 42. A mildly entertaining read, once again, for undiscerning readers.