Batgirl #16 review

Batgirl 16

Hope Larson pushes her Batgirl and Nightwing team up into a new level of mystery as “Summer of Lies” hits its third installment. We’re still on the trail of the elusive Ainsley, connecting the dots of nanotechnology and addiction and revenge leading back to one fleeting summer when Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson took their first case as a team and sparked each other just enough to become a couple.

This comic builds on the issue before with at least one major revelation, but otherwise Batgirl and Nightwing are making very slow progress in terms of cracking this case. I actually appreciate the naturalistic unfurling of evidence. This dynamic duo sits down to interrogate people, probing with questions, listening with sympathetic ears. It’s a much different tact that the whole “strike terror in their heart by holding them upside down off the side of a building” thing, but what else would you expect of two of the nicest heroes in the DC universe?

Ah young love, sproinging across the rooftops of Gotham!

Some of the detective work here (and the transitions) are not very tight or tidy. There’s a quick-change costume moment when Dick and Babs arrive at the treatment center where Ainsley was working on her addiction. From one panel to the panel they go from civvies to full costumes in that silly way that’s prone to happen in this comic.  Part of me just wants to excuse it and say it’s “because comics” but in truth it’s kind of frustrating. Even Harley Quinn, with all of it unexpurgated silliness doesn’t pull things like this in its pages.

Likewise is a transition between subduing the chaos in the center and then tapping the police files for more information. They just found an open terminal and hacked into the police records? Not saying it isn’t possible, it’s just sort of glossed over deliberately to expedite their trail and movement. I feel like things like this could use a little more finesse. Like cut to them sitting in their own vehicle with their own tech–something as simple as that.

And I’ll admit some of me just misses the glory days when Batgirl and Robin just investigated crime as their caped personas. What was their plan at the center anyway? Inquire about private patient information as two random people off the street? There’s a lack of logic here that sort of unseats the narrative for me. I don’t feel completely bucked off the horse, but it makes for a bumpy ride!

Babs ducking this plant is aces

Chris Wildgoose does pencils with inks from Jose Marzan Jr. and Andy Owens, and I’ve got to say I’m growing rather concerned about the state of Dick Grayson. Between his adipose hips and the disturbingly progeria-like condition of his head, I really feel like he should see a specialist. Also, his ill-fitting Robin costume likewise continues to cause me consternation.

It’s one thing for Batgirl to have a sort of piece-meal costume, but Dick Grayson is Robin. He actually lives with Batman–that guy with the cool cave full of wonderful toys. With all his wealth, Bruce Wayne can’t afford to get Dick a onesie that fits. It also doesn’t help that Babs literally looks more butch than Nightwing in the present-day scenes. Don’t get me wrong: I actually think she looks great (and she should in her own book), but not at the expense of her teammate.

The action throughout feels really dynamic, but overall I’m frustrated with Wildgoose’s figure work, which just seems sketchier and sketchier with every issue. Much of the paneling and layouts seem spot on, but the final execution feels unpolished to me, with Batgirl, once again, being the sole stand-out element as if the artist placed her first on the page and then filled everything around her with about one third of the energy.

Recommended If…

  • You enjoy this nexus between technology and crime–if feels a bit far-fetched, but Larson keeps it relatively grounded.
  • You’re looking for a hot summer of love just as winter is cresting on the horizon. DickNBabs 4Evah!
  • You expect Ainsley to reveal herself as the Red Queen!

Overall

If you thought this case was going all-too-easy, prepare to whiff as Larson throws a much needed curveball to get the competitive blood up in this storyline. Batgirl and Nightwing know they’re tracking an age-old vendetta, but there are definitely still plenty of secrets to be revealed–and at the top of the stack is this Red Queen: what does she want and why? And can Babs and Dick figure it all out before anyone else has to die? The story is still a compelling, though the narrative warbles a bit and the art is starting to get troubling. Hopefully the next issue will rebound in a big way!

SCORE: 6.5/10

Around The Web