Brenden Fletcher brings this book to a close before Rebirth as Batgirl says bye-bye to Burnside in a finale titled “Turning the Page”.
So is it a page turner?
Let’s talk about the art first for a change.
I feel like cutting this issue some slack given we haven’t had a Batgirl book with a primary artist for so many issues this was beginning to feel worse than piecemeal, but I have to admit I thought Eleonora Carilini’s work did not look up to snuff this go-round. I appreciate that at least there was some continuity throughout with Minkyu Jung’s contributions on pages 11-14 (wow, they finally gave a page number attribution–thank you!), fitting in pretty seamlessly.
But the characters felt off-model (especially the Gotham Academy girls), and the big finale action battle was really flat and weirdly paneled–not very exciting in terms of the figurework or the framing. There were other nice moments throughout, though, and some of the big double-page spreads were excellent. I especially loved the one at the end of the book where Babs effectively says her goodbyes to everyone and we get nice little vignettes of the scope of all those relationships. It’s a beautiful bit of writing and art that comes together well and sets the perfect tone for this finale.
But before that we get some big splashes that foreshadow the new Birds of Prey, which is also mildly teased in this book:
Including Vixen, who, although a late-comer, is provided with more interesting personality than half the characters we’ve had to suffer with for the duration of the Burnside run.
When we last left off, Gladius Commander had taken Gotham Academy hostage and the book opens up with Batgirl and her team working to reclaim the school. Maps and Olive are being held in the library and Maps gets in the face of Gladius Commander.
And we also get to see Olive use her creepy powers to assist. Once the academy is secured, Batgirl realizes the commander is still after that nonsensical (yes, it’s the word of the day), negahedron, which means she’ll be heading straight for Babs’ company, where her friends are actually throwing her a surprise farewell party. Fletcher makes tight work of having Batgirl arrive as Babs to meet her friends, whom Frankie has evacuated from the building with a false fire alarm. Unfortunately the commander has beat her to the power source and is attempting to make her escape on one of the emergency vehicles.
A pursuit ensues and Bargirl gets to confront and take down the commander on her own. As mentioned previously, it’s not very spectacular (and even a little goofy), but finally–FINALLY–Babs gets to take out a worthy opponent by herself. And that makes it all worth it. It’s her book after all and she’s done nothing but complain that she’s no match for her opponents without a whole crew of backup for far too long.
This book isn’t free of silliness (the commander’s Shiva arms made me laugh), but it was a satisfying conclusion to this Gladius storyline; even wrapped up as quickly as it was. And I appreciate that though the book was littered with cameos, none of them outshone Batgirl or made annoyances of themselves. Their contributions made organic sense. Which is not something I’ve been able to say about this run as often as I should have.
The final page of this book is actually a nice callback to Bab’s arrival in Burnside; same city street outside the apartment she shared with Frankie but instead of arriving, she’s departing. It provides a definite bookend closure to the Burnside adventure which, let’s face it, has been an interesting (though seriously flawed) experiment. I hope when we next encounter Batgirl, we’ll have a good level mix of fun but smart character action with lots of detective work, stronger villains, less quadruple-stacked teamwork (since Birds of Prey will be its own title), and maybe a gradual return to a costume that doesn’t look like parts meats from a hipster reclaim boutique.
I’ve been super-hard on this title because I love Batgirl too much to see her treated like a social media floozy. But all comics go through growing phases and sometimes that’s important to get perspective on where they should really be. I am much-encouraged by the Rebirth premier, which goes to show comics can be amazing. Here’s to hoping Batgirl gets the same kind of overhaul treatment and gets to be amazing again as well.
We’re looking forward to it, Babs!
There’s two covers for this finale (both by Babs Tarr) and both of them ugly. I don’t know what happened to Tarr in the course of this run–she started out so strong! I just hope we never see a pink-haired piercing-covered Batgirl throwing silly hand signs ever again.
- You want to see the back end of Burnside (don’t let the door hit you on the way out!)
- You want to see one of the nicest wrap-up spreads I’ve seen in a long while.
While I was disappointed with some of Eleonora Carlini’s artwork on this book, the good parts of it really stand out strong. Batgirl has effectively divested herself of all her previous contacts and wrapped up the Gladius Commander plotline. This issue feels a bit rushed in the art, but not in the story-telling, and doesn’t dwell on the silliness that’s come before. Fletcher has done a great job of making sure this title ended with some dignity. After what we’ve seen from the Burnside run, that’s about the best we could have hoped for. Extra points for just not being a dull dud of a book or showing Batgirl taking selfies.