Batgirls #10 continues the girl’s investigation into the Hill Ripper and who killed their neighbor. The story feels light and fun, and keeps the detective work split evenly between Barbara on her own, and Steph and Cass.
For me, something in Batgirls clicked this issue. We’re ten issues and a couple arcs in, and I feel like I’ve really gotten used to the tone and flavor of story Cloonan and Conrad are telling. It’s a series that wants to be fun, and when it’s not bogged down by trying to do way too much, it succeeds in that quest quite well. Cloonan and Conrad write the trio of Batgirls in a way that feels nice to read. They’re friends, they get along, they have history together, and they are bright girls. Even when they’re apart their voices still shine through really well. It’s bright and modern, and written in a way that is filled with fun moments and characters just enjoying life. It feels like something I would have really enjoyed as a teenager, and I honestly think it’s a great fit for teens in general. Especially this arc as it focuses on new crushes and mysteries in a way that feel almost Nancy Drew like in their solutions.
The modern aspects of the book work well for a current reader, though they might feel a little dated with time. It’s filled with frequent quips and references to current events and modern problems. It makes the story and characters relatable. My favorite, and most relatable moment from the book is one character’s refusal to pay to get rid of ads in his favorite podcasts. I couldn’t help but agree with him in that moment since I too will just skip past the ads in my favorite podcasts rather than paying a premium price.
Sometimes these quips and references can feel a little too on the nose or pandering, and in past issues they’ve been a little overwhelming. I’m even less a fan of it when it comes from the omnipresent narrator of the book, who I feel is too wordy and in your face in general. However, I think in general it sets a specific tone for this series, and it works well for the vibe the series has: something a bit younger and fun. It’s less concerned with being great literary fiction, and instead interested in just telling an engaging story, and I can respect it for that.
Speaking of the story, it too feels like it works better for the Batigirls than some of the previous arcs. It’s a down to earth mystery with some twists. They’re investigating a serial killer who leaves cryptic notes, and that killer has hit close to home by killing one of their neighbors –a neighbor they assumed was the killer. The bulk of the detective work is on Steph and Cass here, as they work to decipher the code they found hidden in their neighbor’s false eye. It’s a book cipher so they spend quite a bit of time at the library, and the story gets to focus a little more on Cass’s own newfound love of books. Barbara does some investigating herself, but it’s more focused on seeing if she can partner up with GCPD over actually hitting the books like the other girls have been doing.
Cloonan and Conrad also build in some nice character work here again, building up the world and the characters in it. There’s a fun scene with Steph getting a crush on none other than Maps Mizoguchi’s older brother, and Cass teasing her over it. Barbara also gets to interact with Commissioner Montoya, and continues her relationship with Dick Grayson. These scenes are folded in neatly between investigative scenes and make the story and world feel bigger than just what we see in the pages of the comic.
I also really like the art. Neil Googe started on this series with the last issue, and I enjoyed his work there and continue to love it here. The characters and colors –done by Rico Renzi– fit the overall tone really well. Googe has a cute cartoonish style that flows well with previous artists work, but is clean and neat. The characters are expressive and bright, and he does a great job adding in cute little details like hearts in Steph’s eyes when she’s talking/thinking about her new crush. It feels like a comic teen girls would enjoy, and that’s the audience the story feels aimed at.
The arc isn’t over yet as the story wraps up with hints that we’ll see the real villain behind the murders take the stage next month. I’ll be interested to see how the Batgirls react and just what their current adversary has in store for the next.
- You want a light, fun, mystery
- Cute art engages you
- Book ciphers and puzzles are on your reading list
This arc so far is working much better for me than some of the other ones. It’s focused, and feels well balanced between characters and mystery. The art fits well with the story, and helps add to the feeling that this is something the teenage version of myself would have enjoyed very much. Overall, I think the series is successfully telling a fun, engaging story this time around.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.