Welcome to a new nadir from the Batgirl team: a superhero book without any real superheroics that features a title character who is so insufferable you’d think she was the neurotic bride being married. “Dearly Beloved” gives us the conversation we should have had in the last issue of Grayson–but couldn’t because, you know, Spyral and intrigue and stuff.
I’m going to forgo the usual format for this review because this is a special kind of awful that deserves a blow-by-blow so you won’t have to suffer through it yourself (let the BatReview team do that for you!). So we’re going to go page-by-page and talk about why this book is trawling the depths of hot-messness.
This whole review is a spoiler. If you insist on torturing yourself, go ahead and part with your hard-earned cash, but I’m telling you up front I don’t recommend it.
Wedding cliches: The frenzy before the ceremony. The stain on the dress. Babs to the rescue with a wedding day “Survival Kit”. Meanwhile, Babs’ expressions have gone straight up Sailor Moon.
Wedding cliches: Don’t cry or your makeup will run! Babs gushes over what strikes me as the most uninspired wedding ensemble reveal, which takes up half the page even though most of that is blank wasted space. Someone remind me why we care about Alysia’s wedding?
Babs texts from the wedding hall in a confusing speech bubble and body language that doesn’t even suggest she’s on her phone. Wedding cliche: Babs fusses over keeping the wedding ring safe. It’s her most important job! So she hangs the bloody thing around her neck. Not only inappropriate, but seriously?
Wedding cliche: Babs falls in love with Luke at someone else’s wedding. Only to be interrupted at the most predictable moment. Also: absurdly overblown reaction to being interrupted. You would think a T-Rex just stuck its head through the window.
No, it’s only Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. Actually it’s Dick Grayson (like we didn’t know, which makes the “reveal” even sillier). He still looks like Gaston, though.
Be our guest! Be our guest! Put our service to the test!
Baffling conversation between Luke and Dick. I’m sorry, but did we skip to a new universe in which Luke was never Batwing? Or did these two seriously never know each other? Yeah, I’m too lazy to double check because the answer doesn’t actually matter: this is just straight up dumb. Wedding cliche: Babs the wedding planner is pulled away from the big event by her own romantic emergency.
Luke acts like an affronted boyfriend when just a moment ago he didn’t know they were dating. Then he pouts. Seriously. That just happened.
Babs rails at Dick rather than calmly discuss what it is he might want or need. They are superheroes and she did bring her costume (conveniently), but she’d rather carry on like the gross narcissist that she is. Also, apparently it’s okay for her to be violent with him. Imagine the rage if the roles had been reversed. I’m a girl, so I get to call BS on this double-standard.
Wedding cliche: Babs loses the ring. Duh. By the way, her entire Batgirl costume fits into a trendy backpack. Shoes and all. Geh.
Obligatory chase scene that adds nothing whatsoever to the narrative.
Finally Babs and Dick sorta talk, but nothing of import gets said. There’s a baffling flashback about their relationship when they were younger (which in this timeline was not so long ago). Cliche mutual admiration ensues.
This mighta made a better comic.
Cliche “almost” kiss. Of course, Babs rebuffs Dick’s advances with a lot more cliche “you can’t just come back”, “you made your choice” nonsense.
Former lovers are now just good friends cliche. Obligatory silhouette as they contemplate returning to whatever it was they were doing before this silliness: oh yeah: the wedding. Obligatory jumping/swinging in opposite directions panel. Ugh.
Wedding cliches: Panic back at the hall as Babs is nowhere to be found. Stupid girl with lipstick stain on her dress now needs her gown hemmed. Okay, that’s actually kind of funny just because she’s so stupid. Alysia’s parents are paying for this wedding but neither of them are to be seen or heard because: comics. Still more wedding cliche: Babs arrives just in the nick of time! Also: gratuitous appearance by Black Canary.
Scratch that: Black Canary classes the book up for at least a page or two, so I won’t complain about her randomly being here.
Wedding cliche: Babs has changed back into her dress, but forgotten to change her Doc Martens. Hilarity. Seriously: look at this panel. It’s so treacle, it’s like an insurance ad.
Protect your loved ones to cherish more days like this
Two full pages of a wedding nobody cares about. With a suspiciously specific-looking pastor who is likely an homage to some real-life individual. I call this out because it’s completely distracting.
Babs and Luke have cliche conversation that’s so cliche I won’t even recap it. Then they dance all cozy. Naturally, Dick watches on with a pouty face. Oh Willoughby! Willoughby!
Probably an obscure reference for this crowd, but trust me
Luke is such a “gentleman” he didn’t even bother to take Babs home, prompting her to write the most absurdly expositional chat message in the history of StupidChats. A mysterious figure looms. We. Don’t. Even. Get. An. Actual. Teaser. Reveal!
Dear DC: why should I be at all compelled to buy the next issue?
Sometimes it’s okay to take a pause from the regular action-packed storytelling of a comic book and focus on the quieter moments: character studies and interactions that can be strengthened by the opportunity for more development. A lot of books are successful with these off-roading jaunts based on the strength of the character to begin with (fans want to feel more intimately connected), and usually these stories reveal something important about the inner-workings of the characters, their backstory, or some other unexplored aspect. Writers Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher perhaps presume too much about Batgirl’s popularity as an icon and so dispense with any meaningful depth here. And that’s a crying shame: there’s no reason this couldn’t have been epic. Instead we get a by-the-numbers bit of closure between Babs and Dick that’s neither satisfying or entertaining.
I want to add, just to be clear: I have nothing against romance in comics. I actually think Tarr’s cover for this book is very nice and I had hoped this would be a fun reunion between Babs and Dick (even if it was doomed to be bittersweet).
I hope it’s clear from my review that what I am savaging here is how poorly written this issue is. The problem isn’t that Babs has love troubles, it’s that her love troubles are hackneyed at best. Batgirl can wear all the lipstick and drink all the lattes she likes so long as her stories are thrilling and she’s a character we want to root for. That’s just not the case here.
- You were a fan of DC’s Young Romance comics.
This gooey treacle of trotted out wedding day tropes makes for storytelling with a freshness factor of -10. While the book gets points merely for featuring characters like Dick Grayson and Black Canary, there’s really no excuse for how sappy and uneventful this issue is. I don’t mind the occasional issue focused on character development, but it’s got to be done well. This issue brings nothing new to the table and reads like fodder for a daytime soap opera. Babs Tarr’s work isn’t even up to par with strangely flat environments and overblown character reactions/expressions. All-in-all a disappointing mess.