Batgirl #8 review

Batgirl 8

I love it, I hate it. I want to see what happens next and also want to burn the pages of the current book. Sometimes an extreme reaction is a good one. Being provoked can greatly add to one’s experience of a nice pulpy read on a lazy evening.

But then there’s this:

Get. the. flock. out.

The least of which that’s not even a question, Babs.

Hope Larson takes her first major misstep in a book that otherwise felt like it was on a low-flying but perfectly angled trajectory toward mad success. The moment just makes. no. sense. She knows there’s something iffy about this guy and yet she throws herself on him for telling a sob story? Really Babs? It’s embarrassing.

I’m not going to belabor this one rather disappointing panel–or another somewhat obnoxious scene in this book in which Alysia’s first world problems bleed all over the page–because this issue has other things that pull at our attention. It’s enough to say there’s some disappointing backpedaling going on in this issue and I really hope it will eventually morph into something more original from Larson’s own arsenal. She’s proven she can write a capable Batgirl story through the first arc. I would really hate to see her saddled with all of this really questionable legacy stuff. Maybe returning to Burnside is a mistake.

On the positive side, the plot involving the Cobblepot heir is intriguing at least. The story Ethan tells about his father’s crude disavowal is only surprising perhaps because it seems like it ought to happen more often with the villains in these stories. But do we believe his story at face value? That’s the real question. Babs clearly thinks Ethan is being earnest (though she found him suspect last issue!). She also knows his company initiatives are getting people killed in a rather Soylent Green sort of way. This doesn’t seem like something to be taken lightly–at all!

And again, I’m not going to go on a rant about Babs prioritizing whatever pheromones she’s snuffing over good detective work. I’m sure the comments section eagerly awaits your outrage.

Meanwhile, we get to spend time with another villain who I’ve come to love and who makes a great foil for Batgirl: Magpie!

In her new and improved look!

But it’s not enough time!  She’s barely revealed herself when her interaction with Batgirl devolves into a pretty standard-fare stand-off, concluded too quick! I mean, it’s awesome to introduce Magpie into this world and hopefully she’ll come back in an interesting way, but I was super-excited by the promise of the awesome Wildgoose cover here–and very disappointed as a result.

Chris Wildgoose with Jon Lam on inks are making this book shine! I love how bold and clear the action is, and Wildgoose knows how to handle those talkier bits without letting the energy flag. Maybe characters twerk their lips to the side too much (if I had to complain about something), but I do like how distinct the girls look and Batgirl doesn’t look like a child. There are also some very nice scene-setting moments (such as the classroom and the Laundromat), there the details help make the places stand out–too many artists ignore all the character that can go into a space and really bring it to life. Wildgoose always seems to have an eye for these small things that make all the difference.

It’s interesting to see the use of screentones again here–creates a nice continuity from Albuquerque’s work.  Don’t know who is making that contribution (penciler? Inker? Matt Lopes on colors?). Whoever is doing it, I like it. I’m not a fan of screentones in general, but I think it works for Batgirl in a way that keeps the book on the bouncy animé side, which is something the editors have clearly been jockeying for now for a while.

Recommended If…

  • You’re a fan of Magpie! Girl, where you been hiding out all this time?
  • You like the idea of DC villains propagating (whether they want to or not).

Overall

Hope Larson throws us a curve by dipping back into the former team’s aesthetic just a little too much this issue. Yes, Batgirl is back in Burnside, but I was really hoping for more clean-cutting from that previous world. While I appreciate that we can’t just ret-con Frankie and Alysia and Babs’ clean energy project out of existence, I really hoped Larson would steer clear of the foolish giggling girlfriend scenarios and drama that so plagued this series previously. I haven’t given up hope though. The Ethan Cobblepot storyline still holds some intrigue if we can lose the bogus romance, and Magpie was a great adversary in this even if they locked her up perhaps too easily. The train has jumped the rails a little, but it’s not off the track, so hold on and cross your fingers, folks!

SCORE: 6.5/10

 

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