Mairghread Scott continues her plan to rebuild Batgirl as far away from the divisive bubble-gum image as she can get without losing Babs’ youth or exuberance (or in the case of this comic, her dogged determination).  In many ways she’s still daddy’s little girl, but as far as I’m concerned, hanging out with her father is one of the biggest pluses in this storyline: Jim Gordon has been absent from his daughter’s life for far too long.

Scott gives us plenty of father-daughter time, especially since in the last issue, Babs’ collapsed into convulsions in his arms. She’s better now, but of course has no intention of taking the doctor’s advice that something is seriously wrong with the neural implant that makes her able to walk, and that if they don’t do something about it, there could be further serious repercussions.

My question at this point: is she ignoring the doctor out of sheer stubbornness or is there something deeper going on here? In a scene made all the more disturbing by Deron Bennett’s lettering which effectively dulls out half the conversation Babs ought to be listening to, we see her struggling to write something down that she wants to remember. She seems to be working furiously, but when we finally see her paper, it appears to be just random marks on the page.

Comic automatically gets a +.5 for Jim Gordon as usual–because he’s awesome

Babs’ body isn’t the only thing suffering from some sort of dissonance, evidently, and that means her judgment it probably likewise impaired. So when she goes straight from the hospital right back out onto the case, it’s not a matter of if she’ll fail to catch Grotesque–who’s still at-large and continuing his murder spree–but how and how hard.

Grotesque looks amazing in this book, by the way: he’s ghoulish and hideous and genuinely terrifying. Paul Pelletier (on pencils) and Norm Rapmund (on inks) have made him a sinister devil straight out of The Phantom of the Opera: all terror on top, dapper down below.

This book definitely feels like a arc transition, but it’s a good one. It won’t blow your socks off, but it gets us from point A to point B with some solid developments along the way. Scott has compounded the mystery she began in an intriguing, even if slightly predictable way.

Babs ditches the full cowl and the world manages not to explode

Let’s talk about the costume. I never hated the previous one an in the beginning it was semi-justified because Babs had just experienced a chaotic move and didn’t immediately have all her gear to work with. There were thing about it that were somewhat practical (I liked that it was clearly clothing rather than a bodysuit). Now, without any fanfare whatsoever, Pelletier puts Batgirl in an entirely new getup that looks like (and unfortunately comes off as) a mash-up of a variety eras of experimentation. We’re back to a body suit and a highly stylized belt, along with the yellow gloves and boots sporting flanges. She also distinctly has a pack on her back for snacks and her coin purse? Not sure because she never uses it, but I expect it holds her gadgets–and I actually like that because otherwise she looks pretty stripped down.

Love the boots and belt. The cape doesn’t quite feel right though. And then there’s the cowl–or lack thereof.  I’m kind of okay with this look except that it does even less to hide her identity than the last cowl. I know, I know, at some point I just have to let it go, but it seems a strange choice. In the meantime, I hope the overall outfit continues to evolve because though I like this direction it feels rather unfinished.

And while we’re on the subject of clothes, men do not need to wear suspenders with belts. Like that guy in the final panel. Just saying.

Recommended If…

  • What’s happened to Dick Grayson in Batman no. 55 just wasn’t enough pain and suffering for you (when the Batfamily falls, it falls hard).
  • Batgirl leaps out of the fire and into the frying pan and you want to see it!
  • You just want to support the book that finally ditched the Doc Martins.

Overall

Babs is equal measures smart and foolish in this issue which explores her complicated relationship with her neural implant, while reminding us of her complicated relationship with her father. No hints yet as to whether Jim Gordon knows about his daughter’s nightly exploits, but at the rate Batgirl is going, she might burn herself out before he has a chance to find out (or acknowledge her as a vigilante). Batgirl continues to pursue Grotesque despite the fact that she may be malfunctioning both physically and mentally, putting her in a vulnerable position.

SCORE: 7.5/10