Batgirls Annual #1 review

It’s time for Batgirls to have its first annual! With more space to tell its story, and an extra issue this month, Batgirls dives deep into the lives of two of its titular Batgirls, Stephanie and Cassandra, and looks at the parents who shaped them in a very Freaky Friday kind of way. So, let’s see just what it has in store.

I’ll start out by saying that if you are genuinely keeping up with this series, and are thinking of skipping the annual, don’t do that. Instead of being a stand alone adventure like a lot of annuals do, or even an adventure connected just enough to add flavor to the main story, this one feels very much like the start of a new arc. A number of important events take place in it to set the stage for the series going forward, and it doesn’t wrap up cleanly, instead leaves off on a cliffhanger like the rest of the issues do.

With that out of the way, let’s dive into the story. Batgirls focuses on Stephanie and Cass here, highlighting their friendship and their own personal struggles with their villain parents: Lady Shiva and Cluemaster. While we don’t get a ton of screen time or information on the parents, they’re a weight over the whole issue that pushes the girls forward. And I’m really glad to see the series finally starting to dive into this aspect of both characters. Lady Shiva and Cluemaster play significant roles in the development of both Batgirls, so it’s been surprising we haven’t had a whole lot of mention of them so far.


It’s really the relationship between the two that fuels most of the issue. It opens with featuring all three in different places: Stephanie on a date, Cassandra at a museum, and Barbara helping a friend with her new boba shop. The three come together at the shop’s opening and Babs drops the bombshell on them that she’s moving out of their shared apartment and into the clocktower full time again. This is one of those important moments the annual gives that I’d have liked in a regular issue better. Still, it opens it up for the two remaining Batgirls to have some bonding time.

And bonding time is the real focus of the majority of the issue. From normal girl stuff, to their adventures as vigilantes they and their concerns fill the majority of the pages. During a late night conversation about wishing they were in each others shoes, they even flip a coin to see if they should do it. And that’s where the Freaky Friday aspect of the story comes in because life swapping does indeed happen in the form of them swapping bodies.

This concept is a delightful one. And I’m a little sad it doesn’t take up even more of the issue than it does. If the whole entire annual was dedicated to this little swap I would have probably had a lot more fun with it than I did, since it would give the creative team more time to play with the idea. Instead it feels a little rushed since it took a while to build up to the body swap. Still, we are treated to some of the classic body swap tropes like seeing Cassandra’s Batgirl bubbly and happy while Stephanie’s is more serious.

Robbi Rodriguez does a pretty good job showcasing the differences in the personalities of the swapped girls. In particular he shows this off while they’re out as Batgirls, patrolling the streets mostly as usual. One good moment is when they’re meeting with Officer Brooks. Stephanie -in Cass’s body– is casual and light, while Cass is broody and quiet. That said, I would have liked to see the differences highlighted a little better. The text does a good job highlighting this, but outside of their costumes the girls visually don’t really display a lot of facial features or body language that indicates they’ve swapped places.

My biggest problem with this annual is that for all the space it has, it still feels a little disorganized and rushed. It’s packing a lot into its page time, and not necessarily doing the best with what it has. I’ve already mentioned I’d have enjoyed it more if the concept of the switcheroo had been played up a little longer. For the most part the text is pretty serious about it, rather than playful which is a shame.

This is a book that tries hard to be light and fun and that note doesn’t come across as strong as it could here, especially with a concept ripe for that tone. It spends too much time setting up Babs future move, the contrasts between Stephanie and Cassandra, and a few mysteries. It also could have easily taken its time since it’s part one of two. This arc could have been more playful then dove into more serious as things changed tone and darker players showed up. Unfortunately, it missed the balance mark on both pacing and tone and for that I think it suffers a bit.

Recommended If

  • Freaky Friday stories are fun to you
  • Two close characters are compared and contrasted
  • You don’t mind the main story in your annual


This annual continues the main story of Batgirls by introducing a number of key elements like Barbara moving out of the clock tower and both Stephanie and Cassandra’s parents coming into play. It also highlights the two girls similarities and differences, while sending them on a wild body swapping adventure. As the first in a two part arc, and an oversized annual it struggles a bit with pacing and tone, but generally gives readers a fun time with the elements it brings in. If you’re keeping up with the series, or just want more lore on some of the Batgirl’s family history it’s one to check out.

Score: 6/10

DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.