Batgirl #36 review

This issue might be titled “Terrible: Finale,” but it is anything but as Mairghread Scott makes the most of what she was given to deliver a satisfying conclusion!

I’ve made it quite clear that I’m sad to see Mairghread Scott leave Batgirl. I feel as though she’s done some of the best work with Barbara Gordon that we’ve seen in years, and I feel that way knowing that her run had to have been interfered with heavily. I mean, think about it. A large plot for her long-form arc with Barbara was supposed to deal with Barbara’s implant starting to give out… but it never really got its footing. Why? Because Scott was forced to take on the abandoned “Bleeding Edge” story from Nightwing after Dick was shot in the head. What makes this even worse, is that despite tossing this story onto Scott’s plate, DC then decided to just abandon it altogether – a decision that I’m not going to complain about, but that definitely caused damage when all was said and done.

But once all of this was cleared, Scott started working to build an interesting world for Barbara. In true Babs form, she’s following her heart by supporting a political leader that she believes is the right person to represent the people. This has helped shape her civilian identity with Alysia running her company. The problem with both of these plots, is that this politician opposes the police force, and as a result, Barbara’s father, and Babs absence within her own company isn’t promising for her future with it. If this wasn’t enough personal turmoil for Barbara to juggle, she’s also having to deal with the return of Jason Bard, as well as her brother. Needless to say, it’s a lot, but makes for one hell of an interesting set-up.

Unfortunately, just as the groundwork was being laid, Bendis and The Year of the Villain had to come along, prompting DC to jump ship from their original plans to court this event. This also, unfortunately, resulted in changes to the creative team. Oh what could’ve been… It’s honestly quite infuriating. Part of the reason I’ve really respected DC – especially compared to Marvel – was because they weren’t as quick to trash ideas, especially ideas that were just being set-up. Lately, however, that’s basically been Didio’s M.O. He better cop on, because if he doesn’t it’ll be too late before he realizes this type of action results in fans feeling the need to care. These relationships are reciprocal! Treat them as such.

Now, to move away from the politics of the industry, this issue had the incredibly difficult task of trying to wrap up, or at the very least, contain, all of these plots as best as possible. While one would assume this would result in a terrible, paint-by-numbers story to clean the slate for the next creative team, Scott, instead, decides to provide closure while also leaving the door open for each one of these arcs! It’s a brilliant move, and I’ll have to question Cecil Castellucci if she doesn’t take advantage of some of the groundwork that has been laid before her when she takes over. There are some good stories that are still waiting to be told here, and one of the biggest aspects missing from comics today is the support of a foundation in the narrative.

I will admit that the closures provided for these plots are rushed, but they’re still executed well. Scott is careful in how she handles each of these threads, giving the right amount of attention where it’s needed. Yes, the wrap-up to two of these are squandered to mere lines, but they still feel thought out and appropriate, all things considered. Is it how I wanted all of this to unfold? No, but it’s better than no ending at all.

I can’t talk about this issue without discussing the Terrible Trio. Historically, these guys are total duds, but Scott has written them in a way that I actually found them interesting. This chapter in particular really raises the stakes for them as each character – with the exception of Fox who had ample spotlight in Batgirl #35 – get a chance to shine. Yes, their appearance can be hokey, but Scott proved that there is potential here when used correctly. Was their overall mission a bit mustache-twirly? Absolutely, but it honestly added to the fun of the issue. Scott, and especially her potential, will be missed. She was trying to do some special things with Barbara, and I’m sad that they won’t be explored further.

The Art: Paul Pelletier wraps up Scott’s run with art that’s as solid as it was when the duo started. I really enjoy the way he can balance Barbara’s grace, while also delivering some intense, brutal fight scenes! There have been multiple examples where I’ve actually cringed because Pelletier didn’t hold back from how violent a bout was. I will admit that I’ve never been that crazy about the way he draws faces, but that’s merely a matter of preference, and I’ll take a good storyteller over pretty faces any day.

Recommended If:

  • You’ve enjoyed Scott’s run on Batgirl.
  • The Terrible Trio.

Overall: Mairghread Scott and Paul Pelletier deliver a respectable and mostly satisfying conclusion to their run on Batgirl. Is the issue or run perfect? No, but Scott has done some of the best character work with Barbara Gordon in years! It’s been a while since I’ve been able to look at Babs as a respectable hero who was depicted as a smart role model, and Scott managed that. For that reason, I consider this a success and I’m sad to see her go.

SCORE: 7/10