Shots are fired!  Hope Larson gives us a solid issue in which Batgirl struggles to solve a technological mystery while also facing a failure of her recent past in a book more solid and more indicative of what this series can really by like when it’s allowed to shine. No goofy social media that will be grossly dated two years from now, no bizarre team-ups, or Batgirl doubting her ability take down the villains on her own. And no distracting friendship drama that feels like small potatoes and first world problems in the face of terrible crime and citizens under threat.

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This is the second part of “Cold Snap” in which Batgirl realizes rather quickly that someone is tampering with the weather satellite feed and has left Burnside vulnerable to a sudden crazy blizzard.  Oswald Cobblepot arrives just in time (clearly a little too timely) to assist the imperiled citizens deal with the weather emergency, even as they discover that the GPS system has likewise failed, stranding people and making city efforts extremely difficult. Good thing the Penguin can help out in this time of need!

Of course Batgirl’s not falling for that one.

Guano, guano everywhere, and not a drop to drink

Batgirl’s investigation leads to to quickly realize that whoever’s behind this is making it personal, and the tech takes her to her friend Qadir. No chance of suspecting him, of course, he’s always been a straight-A guy, but the tech used in this crime was developed by him and Babs finds him a victim of this plot as well.

Fortunately, Qadir knows what the tech does and how to stop it. And though Babs is lured into a trap by the “mastermind” behind all this, she’s not dumb enough to let that hold her down for longer than it takes for her to break her way out. While the tech does play a big part in this crime, and some of it is that ridiculous sort of future-tech the application of which would have ruined the world ten times over, Larson is careful to build in some limitations to keep it from being a total absurdity. And it’s the kind of thing that’s still just sort of fun to play with without needing knee-deep explanations.

And when Ethan Cobblepot was introduced in this book earlier, he turned out to be a pretty weak character, transparent in his duplicity, and he made Babs looks so foolish for falling for his charms. On top of that, as Blacksun, he was a ludicrous villain with silly tech powers which Batgirl basically used to fry him.  This time around, however, Larson makes Blacksun a more credible villain. The silly costume and tech is still there, but he seems more clever and their fight is more visceral and less cartoony.

Finally! A fight we can believe in!

I love Sami Basri’s work in this book! The clarity of the action is outstanding, Batgirl looks beautiful: young, but confident, and the scene in which she confronts the Penguin is one of the best moments in this book. Not because it’s particularly shocking or has any kind of twist, but just because the behavior of the characters is believable and interesting and Basri’s work is so animated, it just springs off the page. I still don’t like the goofy Bat-vehicle Babs is scooting around in on skis, but props too to Jessica Kholinne for her muted, wintery colors that are soft and grey and cool. And another great cover from Dan Mora, even though it sort of gives away the farm (though if you didn’t see Cobblepot behind this plot, you might want to check to see if you still have a pulse).

I feel like I’ve been waiting for this Batgirl comic for a long while and with the way this issue ends, I’m hoping that what we’re seeing here is the new rule. If it is, Larson’s going to put this title back in the black–which is where it belongs. Batgirl is an A-list character. She deserves this A-list book!

Recommended If…

  • You just like a straight, solid detective comic with great characters.
  • Fabulous art is fabulous!
  • We’re seeing a lot of Penguin in the books lately, so continuity is all over the map, but he’s a fun villain and I like this sort of more ordinary greed-driven motivation. World-domination just gets exasperating after a while.

Overall

This is the kind of comic that makes you happy to hold it: a great cover from Dan Mora, a solid and fun story from Hope Larson, and art by Sami Basri that reminds you how bright and lively sequential art can be. This book also seems to be setting up some interesting changes for Batgirl, so hopefully this is the start of a whole new perspective for Barbara Gordon!

SCORE: 8/10

 

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