Batgirl (Beyond) makes her (second) debut in this chapter of Batman Beyond! I wonder what she’s been up to in this post-Brother Eye Neo Gotham?
This month, DC is giving Dan Jurgens and Bernard Chang a little break, and delivering a filler issue of Batman Beyond in their absence. Right away, you should know not to expect too much from this chapter because… filler. Granted, not all filler issues are bad, but this is definitely your run-of-the-mill filler as far as quality is concerned.
Steve Orlando and Vita Ayala take writing credit for this chapter, and take this opportunity to feature the ladies of the Batman Beyond universe. Barbara and Max are two of the most interesting characters in Batman Beyond, and both characters are completely worthy of the spotlight. But the cannon inclusion of Batgirl brings another level and element of excitement. If you read the previous digital first run of Batman Beyond, then you might remember this Batgirl popping up during that time. Unfortunately, despite a solid debut, she only appeared once, and we never saw her again.
For those of you who didn’t read that story, you might be asking yourself, “Who is this new Batgirl?” Her name is Nissa and she’s a teenager that lives in Crown Point – one of the most crime-ridden parts of Gotham. There’s not much known about her background, but she is a person of color and happens to be a representation of a side of Gotham that struggles from poor socioeconomic standing… And in that respect alone, she’s an incredible character with rich stories to tell!
Nissa operates within the confines of her community and makes a point to battle those that corrupt and take advantage of Crown Point. As the issue reveals, she’s faced a number of corrupt leaders over time, but in this issue, she’s squaring off against some shady officers after Barbara Gordon is kidnapped… Which, when considering the current political climate, feels relevant. The story sounds intriguing enough, but it faces one major problem…. It’s forced to face comparisons.
Remember the previous continuity that I mentioned earlier? The issue that created Nissa and introduced her to the Batman Beyond universe, featured a story of Barbara Gordon investigating a corrupt businessman. Eventually, she is caught and is to be killed until Batgirl intervenes. So what’s the problem? Batman Beyond #12 is practically a complete lift of that issue. Take the original issue, change the corrupt businessman to a corrupt policeman, add in Max as a cyber vigilante, reference current canon, and you literally have this script. Sadly, the original issue is way better than this one.
Orlando and Ayala’s script feels overwhelmingly generic. The story reads like a contrived, paint-by-numbers plot, while the dialogue comes off as a basic, “insert standard hero line here.” Even the attempts at an emotional tug are hollow and come off as cliché bids for sympathy and compassion. Then on top of all of this, the attempts to weave two continuities together is done so rather forcefully.
In the end, none of the women receive a strong depiction. Nissa and Max each get brief moments to shine slightly, but poor Barbara is merely a means to an end. It’s actually quite disappointing that two strong and developed characters have to suffer this, while a character teeming with potential becomes sorely undersold. Despite all of this though, the issue itself still isn’t bad… just average in every sense.
The Art: Siya Oum provides the art for this issue, and it’s quite rough. There are some panels that look decent enough, but even the splash pages neglect to provide anything worthy of excitement. Most of the issue suffers from inconsistency, as characters look vastly different from page to page. No one suffers this worse than Barbara though. Multiple times, I had to re-work my way panel by panel just to make sure the character I thought was Barbara, actually was Barbara. Take a look for yourself.
- The idea of Barbara, Max, and Batgirl receiving the spotlight excites you.
- You’ve wanted more of Nissa since you first discovered her.
Overall: Batman Beyond #12 is ok at best. Orlando and Ayala introduce a few interesting concepts in this issue, but they’re not enough to make reading this chapter worthwhile. As much as I love Barbara and Max, and hope for the potential of Nissa to come to fruition, this issue is completely skippable. Do yourself a favor, read the original introduction of Nissa as Batgirl, and hold on to the hope that this time she’ll be fully integrated into current continuity. As a character, Nissa has a lot to offer, and we deserve to get those stories and relationships in the future.