I’ve “been trying really hard to highlight the positives that are in this book”. Truer words from Bat Reviewer Josh were never spoken as I really struggled with this issue. The fact is, I just don’t enjoy much about this book and would have a hard time recommending it even to its intended audience. It’s just not well-written, the characters are plastic and cloying, and even the art is starting to seriously grate on me–even when it’s executed ably. I really hoped to grow to like this Barbara Gordon and get into the spirit of this new direction, but we are ten issues into the new team and it’s time to admit defeat.

Which is not to say I won’t try to continue to find things to like; I want to like and appreciate good work where I find it–and a lot of people work hard to put a single comic book issue together. But when something doesn’t resonate, it just doesn’t.

“An Ambush of Tigers” concludes a short arc which started last month in which stolen tigers are being used to commit murders that are then pinned on Burnside’s best coding freelancers. Behind this scheme is the CEO of Gilcom, Lani Gilbert, a.k.a. Velvet Tiger. I don’t even know where to begin unraveling this overly complicated nonsensical plot or what to do with a villain who is hiding in plain sight. I already complained about Velvet Tiger’s absurd costume, but this issue also ratchets that up a notch by showing it to reveal meat cleavers in its fur.

Let’s just get through this.

The Good

I love a two-issue arc. Too many books are too sprawling. We need more short plotlines!

Bengal’s on art duties (should I say that’s appropos since it’s about Tigers? Eh). He’s got a style similar to Babs Tarr, so that provides a nice sense of visual continuity. Tarr only contributed the cover to this issue.

Also:

…who am I kidding? There is no also.

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This opening splash is the highlight of the book. You’re welcome.

So Much Bad

I was amused by the tigers and tech last go round, but I guess it’s a schtick that was only fresh for a single issue because this time I just shook my head in the bad sort of wonderment as Batgirl pole-vaulted tigers and Frankie dropped a remotely controlled Batcycle on Velvet Tiger’s head. Also in the course of this book, Alysia rescues Jo, Jeremy is given a good strong talking-to, and Luke Fox and Babs randomly and without warning swap spit. Batgirl also told Luke he should stay out of the fight because things are “risky” right now (eh….what?), and then everyone winked and nodded and gave sheep’s eyes at one point or another. Did I mention Frankie dropped a Batcycle on Velvet Tiger’s head?

Just So Much

…Because she did. A Batcycle controlled by Frankie’s brain through a neural link. Thank God they included all those drones in the visuals or else I can’t imagine I could have understood what was happening–that makes it all so much more realistic and relatable.

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A catty scratch-fight? Really?

I apologize for the sarcasm. I sincerely do. I hate saying bad things about books, but I literally made an involuntary “gack” sound when Luke and Babs got all kissy. Not because I hate romance, not because I object to these two being attracted to one another, but because it’s just stoopit: completely out of nowhere, random, sudden, inorganic–whatever you want to call it, it just makes no sense.

And what kind of cliffhanger is this anyway? Velvet Tiger appears to be dispatched, so that ends that. Now what? Frankie’s going rogue? Have I mentioned how little I care about this character? Probably every review. In fact, I’ve graduated from not caring about her to actively disliking her since last issue, and it looks like she’s just going to get worse.

I did something before attempting to write this review that I have never done before: I checked online to see what other people were saying about it just to try to find some objectivity. Just to see if I was way off base. Unfortunately, as of the time I am writing this, there are no other reviews posted, so that remains to be seen.

In the meantime, I will say what I said last time: read Black Canary, read Gotham Academy, or read DC Bombshells if you’re looking for strong female characters. Heck, read Harley Quinn or even We Are Robin. I honestly don’t know anymore what Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart are trying to do with this book. It doesn’t fit in with any of the other Batbooks, the characters make no sense in respect to who they have been throughout the New 52, and every issue seems to make Barbara younger and dumber. Just throwing a lot of code and tech into the mix doesn’t make her smart. If she was smart, she would have taken out the tigers and their mistress with the sleeping darts and avoided a fight to begin with. If she was smart, she would have never shared her secret identity with Frankie. If she was smart, she would be teaming up with Batwing instead of telling him he’d make a better civilian. Man, that’s insulting. I’m insulted. Fans of Batwing should be insulted. Fans of Batgirl should be insulted.

Judging by how few comments the reviews for this book gets here, I can only guess that readers of this site have either:

  1. Been scared off completely by my criticism of the direction of this book.
  2. By and large abandoned Batgirl because it’s just not good. That’s such a shame. Batgirl is such an awesome character, she doesn’t deserve to be saddled with weak stories and even weaker characterization.

I’ve said it before and say it again: if you genuinely like this book, I totally welcome your input and comments. If you fight for this book, I will continue to fight for it too. With so many other amazing titles on the shelves (and some of them getting prematurely axed due to poor sales), I am probably more incensed by the silliness in this title than I would be normally. But compared to other work, this book just doesn’t deserve its numbers.

Recommended If…

  • You’re okay with nonsense plots for the sake of “fun” action.

Overall

Batgirl foils Velvet Tiger and rescues Jo with the help of her friends. It’s what you expected and not much more. Bengal’s art is serviceable, but the action choreography is often muddled with complex minutiae. Velvet proves to be about as formidable as a woman in a tight tiger miniskirt would be and the writers try to convince us that the fisticuffs were epic by having actual battle-trained characters say things like “you look like you’ve been in a war zone.” This issue definitely marks a low point in the series since it switched over to the new team.

SCORE: 4.5/10