Batgirl #13 review

Batgirl 13

We get another one-shot from Hope Larson on the Batgirl title, and this time it’s a team-up with Catwoman in a little tale humorously titled “The Truth about Bats and Dogs”.

I’ll just say it upfront: this is kind of a silly story.

But I will also temper that by saying: eh, it’s entertaining anyway.

Last outing we had a ghostly presence in a swimming pool, this time around it’s pet-napped furry-babies-turned-social-media-stars.

I appreciate that the Batgirl title has been striving to tie in all this modern trending technology into its storylines (and particularly demonstrate the dangers of social media in all its manifold forms). So it’s silly that Catwoman’s darling Isis has a “Pixtagraph” account with a popular following (not to mention a lucrative promotional deal with Purrberry Pet Perfumes, but I’m just going to let it slide because we can’t really take any of this stuff too seriously and Batgirl has demonstrated time and again that it’s not courting a sophisticated adult audience. If I were a kid, I would probably love this.

And then the other side of me can’t wait to get a little more meat on the bones with this title–which I expect we’ll have once the new arc begins.

Larson also reintroduces Velvet Tiger as one of Batgirl’s costumed foes. As ridiculous as this character is (with her tight tigerskin mini and her frou-frou hair), she’s still pretty fun in an old school comic book campy kind of mien.

Standard fare: Batgirl schools a bunch of punk bullies

The biggest problem is that the action hinges on a premise that’s hard to swallow: Batgirl takes a little girl who is scouting the streets for a lost dog, along on a potentially dangerous operation. And for no actual legitimate reason. Babs justifies it by saying she doesn’t have time to escort little Esme home since she must pursue Catwoman, but swapping on kind of child endangerment (allowing Esme to find her own way home) for another (involving her in a super-villain chase) seems nonsensical.

Larson tries to make Esme’s collaboration in the final outcome critical (and there is a clever/funny moment involving a “hand grenade”), but ultimately defeating Velvet Tiger is kind of ludicrous. The overly intelligent pets get their “revenge” and Tiger’s henchwomen conveniently evaporate in the narrative.

To top all this off, the police arrive but don’t question who Esme is or why she’s at a crime scene in the middle of the night. But, woah, let’s make sure she doesn’t get in trouble by allowing her picture to be broadcast all over Pixtagraph! The story ends on a convoluted bedtime assurance for Esme that her hard-working mom is the “real” hero.

SHOW SPOILER ▼

The perfume pet puns fly fast and furious

Inaki Miranda is new to the Batgirl series (and new to DC comics, near as I can tell), but his art is a lovely professional heir of the best of Rafael Albuquerque and Christopher Wildgoose: it has a heavy contrast inky edge throughout–seems almost too dark for the story it’s telling, but it’s all very nice to look at and works for both the gritty streets of Burnside in the dark of night as easily as the posh penthouse of Velvet Tiger.

Batgirl is handled particularly well with some nice expressions that give her face plenty of character without getting cartoony (wish I could say the same for Esme, but drawing children is always going to be a greater challenge). Occasionally there’s some iffy perspective on the anatomy (during the action sequences it’s especially noticeable. And at one point Batgirl refers to the decor being all “leopardy”, but the wide angles of Velvet Tiger’s pad is actually all “tigery”. I’m sure Batgirl knows the difference (and later Velvet Tiger’s henchwomen are wearing leopardy costumes), but it’s a frustrating bit of incongruity.

Recommended If…

  • You like stories about animals and animal rescue operations.
  • Catwoman/Batgirl team-up for the win!
  • Your little sister is still bugging you for something to read.

Overall

This one isn’t winning any prizes, but it’s easy to read and well-drawn and tells a cute (albeit somewhat nonsensical) story. I feel like there’s a battle of tone going on here between Larson’s light-hearted script and Miranda’s heavy darks throughout. For a kid’s book, this works (and who doesn’t love a story about a dog-napper getting her due?). But ultimately it’s kind of throwaway. The best of it is Batgirl and Catwoman teaming up for a silly outing and for the adept way Larson handled that, I bumped this up a point.

SCORE: 6/10

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