Hope Larson brings winter to Burnside/Gotham in this first part of a new arc titled “Cold Snap” that features our polar pal the Penguin–someone with whom Batgirl has a fairly well-established history as of late. Cobblepot isn’t causing any trouble just yet, however, as he rides into town on an open sleigh (or, rather, it’s a sled, really), with plenty of penguin goons–not to make mischief, but to lend a helping hand in a time of crisis: the city is buried in snow!
While Penguin’s goons do some shoveling and Cobblepot himself makes nicey-nice with the news crew in order, clearly, to curry some favor, let’s step back and figure out why this good deed has got Batgirl’s cowl in a bunch.
Burnside’s Mayor is eligible for the draft, but doesn’t have a driver’s license yet
The book opens with one of what’s come to be Larson’s signature storytelling go-tos: Batgirl foils a relatively petty neighborhood crime with good humor and a little bit of action just to get the energy going. Sometimes these intros end up tying into the main plot; it remains to be seen whether this one will. It also introduces an element that will play in: some passive-aggressive weather that doesn’t seem to to want to conform to meteorological reports.
Batgirl is coffeeing-up the following day with Qadir and Frankie after her late-night prowling when it starts to snow. There’s some confusion as to whether it’s “really coming down” or “just a few flakes”. The illustrations don’t help much either because it looks like flurries at best. There’s also talk of temperatures “a wind chill of -18º!”). Maybe it’s just because I lived in cold weather country for a decade, but this didn’t strike me as that dramatic. Also, the colder it is, the less likely it is to snow. And this is Gotham, which is supposed to be in a more temperate zone.
Larson covers her bases by bringing municipal calamity into play, which means no plows or city help to dig out. And this leaves the door open to Oswald Cobblepot to waddle in and do his good deeds. Batgirl is suspicious, but she’s got nothing on him yet and other mysteries to pursue, like who is hacking the weather service and sending false information out?
A tiny spur leads her to Stockmen Pursuing an Unbound Republic (or S.P.U.R.): a bunch of ridiculous good ol’ boy types in even more ridiculous cowboy getups. Batgirl has tangled with the one called Red before, and though at first I rolled my eyes at the whole bunch of them, I think Larson did some fun and clever things here. She connected back to a dropped thread in Batgirl’s team-up with Supergirl (Batgirl Annual no. 1, 2017), which I highly criticized as a dropped thread back then. She also made this organization kind of endearingly hilarious. But the time Batgirl had wrung all the information she could get out these guys, I low key loved them just for being all the things I think are ridiculous. If you’re going to go straight up comic booky, this is the way to do it.
Ya’ll come back now!
The rest of the story is set up for the larger ongoing mystery in which Qadir’s new top-secret “lab job” no doubt will play a part, along with the Penguin, who it seems doubtful is our primary foe. Larson has done a good job setting things up; now let’s see if she can land a winner.
Chris Wildgoose turns out a fun book with some interesting costume quirks. Batgirl in a hooded coat (the hood makes no sense) with a cape is silly, but amusing. This is the second time in as many weeks that we’ve seen Batgirl in cold-weather gear (see Injustice 18). Wildgoose’s costumes for Red, White, and Blue are a little less inspired, but fun for being a bit of a throwback to a golden era of truly silly themed villains with coordinated outfits. It always causes me to beg the question: how did they decide on who got what color/name?
The snow storm isn’t impressive, which is probably the biggest drawback in this book. In the same way that Larson seems a tad unfamiliar with how weather temps affect the ability for snow to fall, Wildgoose provides a light flurry visually even though the implication is that the ground is piling up with white. And since no one brings a plow to this party, I’m not actually sure, in the end, how serious we’re supposed to take any of it.
Not very seriously, if we’re to judge by the weird ski-speeder thing Batgirl is driving around town. That thing is goofy as all get out.
All that said, Batgirl looks pretty fabulous and Wildgoose renders a nicely classy penguin. As this isn’t the first time Oswald Cobblepot and Batgirl have tangled, it will be interesting to see how this particular pair pans out.
Lastly, Dan Mora bangs out another stunner of a cover. Great dramatic use of the cape, the stone eagle, and even the gaggle of penguins flanking our improbable duo. Not exactly accurate to the content of the book, but…comics, right?
- You’re ready for a new story arc that looks like it will focus on some interesting detective work and high-tech crime (Babs’ specialty!)
- You love quirky villain group with silly themes.
- You love snow as much as I do, even if the nature of this particular storm is questionable.
There’s some silly stuff in this book (both visually and story-wise), but the spirit of it is all good fun. Larson serves up a new arc that once again combines crime-solving and technology in an interesting way. We also get to see lots of villains (new and old), though something tells me we haven’t actually met the “big bad” of this arc just yet. There’s a strong smack of formula here, but hopefully we’ll see some twists as the premise of a weather-tampering ne’er-do-well has intriguing possibilities.