After returning from Unearth with a newly healed Jason Bard, Batgirl discovers that people have begun to turn into metallic statues! With Bard at the scene of one of the victims, and strange goings on, it’s up to Batgirl to put a stop to all this.
This issue of Batgirl is busy. Busy and confusing and just a little too jam packed with information. The general idea of the story is that Babs is investigating people who are being turned into statues by some kind of living gold. Through that, she looks into the metal itself, goes to a company’s presentation, fights a bunch of thugs, has a tour of an energy facility, and sneaks back in to fight more thugs. Bard is also featured, alongside Congresswoman Alejo, and an accidental fight with Batwoman. It’s a lot and many of the elements are unclear while some just plain don’t work.
The story picks up where the last left off, with Babs running to try to save a woman turning into a statue as Jason runs away from them. While this scene is a bit chaotic, with lighting sparking everywhere and thugs who show up out of nowhere it’s fairly easy to follow compared to some of the other events later on.
It’s when Jason shows back up that things start to fall apart. After the scene with Babs in the clock tower there’s a flashback to “earlier that morning”. Showing Jason returning to the alley from the start to apologize to Ethel, the woman who’d been turning into a statue and we learn this alley is behind his apartment building. Here’s where I start to get confused. Last issue, Bard was supposedly on his way to see Babs, so why was he heading home? I also have to question why he’d come back to apologize to Ethel when he’d seen her turning into a statue the night before. Why didn’t he go back right away instead of waiting till morning? It all feels very odd. On top of that, if Castellucci was going to do a flashback, why here? This scene could have easily been written in chronological order instead of being a flashback. Having an Earlier time frame made me incorrectly assume this was going to show Bard’s side of things during the original fight. It really only added confusion to the plot.
The whole issue feels like this. There’s too much going on and consistently it feels like things are forgotten or assumed readers would just know. Like Bard suddenly has Batgirl’s phone number, despite having been enemies with her a mere 48 hours previously. Or why Ethel didn’t stay a statue like everyone else did. The other people they brought in are all still statues, so why was she normal again? The issue is littered with little moments like this that pulled me out of the story, and even reading it twice I still found myself going “What? Why?” at a number of places.
Something about this story I do appreciate is how grounded in Gotham it is. The part of the book that’s the most continuous and follows a coherent story is Barbara’s work with Congresswoman Alejo and the city itself. So much so, I’d love to see more of it. It’s fun and all to joke about Babs constantly missing meetings and being out as Batgirl, but that gets tiring when there’s other avenues for her to investigate or other ways she can work with people beyond the cape. There was some of Babs using her regular life to investigate in this issue, when she realized Berlova was buying up the gold she did set up a meeting between Alejo’s group and the woman. And then later used the tour of Berlova’s facilities to investigate further. I’d love to see this used more in the series, instead of having Barbara’s job feel like something that just gets in the way, or an aside to her life as a vigilante.
I do have to wonder wondering why Congresswoman Alejo would choose specifically to ask about using Dasha Berlova’s company to provide the city energy? She wants to get the city’s power off the grid, but having her only option be someone who’s main focus isn’t even energy seems odd. Sure Berlova made a request to purchase a plant, but the congresswoman knows about Gordon Clean Energy, so why not go to them to help? Or any other official energy corporation instead? It would have made more sense if she’d thrown out a few ideas instead of just picking one that makes little sense.
I do like Dasha Berlova as a villain. Her motivations are clear, and the strongest part of this issue. There’s a moment where Carmine Di Giandomenico is able to show her motivations with one panel. When she mentions losing her mom there’s this gorgeous shot where the panel is split between Berlova, a single gold tear highlighted on her face, and a scene of her mother turning into a statue, which is all we need to know about her and why she’s doing any of this, the living gold impacted her personally and she’s doing everything she can to investigate and control it. It ties in well with what happens later, and simply informing readers of why she’s pushing so hard to figure all this out.
Berlova’s design itself is really cool, and I want to give Di Giandomenico props for that. I love that she’s chosen to deck herself out in gold, despite the fact that it took her mother away from her. Its also interesting to me that a lot of the gold seems to be the same living gold turning people into statues. From the tear that appears when she’s talking about her mom, to how her whole outfit transforms when Batgirl comes crashing into the building, it’s both a cool look and one that says a lot about Berlova herself.
Towards the end of the issue, Batgirl sneaks back into Berlova’s labs and things get crazy again. Batwoman shows up while tracking the KGBeast and for some reason the two women fight because– actually I have no idea why they fight. It’s just one random extra element to add to the end of this issue to top the whole thing off for me as being too much.
- You don’t mind chaos in your books
- Interesting concepts outweigh execution
- You want to read about a pretty cool villain
Despite having an interesting premise, Batgirl tries to do too much without taking the time to really think out it’s explanations or slow down to let the story build a little bit. It does give us Barbara Gordon using her position with Congresswoman Alejo to further the plot, and introduces an interesting villain. However, it’s got too much going on and too many moments that are legitimately frustrating for me to be excited about where this is all going.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.