Batgirl has gone from a book I didn’t really care for to one of the best comics on my pull-list (one of the best from last year as well).
Can Batgirl #38 continue the trend? Is it good?
Batgirl #38 (DC Comics)
Things are looking up for Barbara Gordon at the moment. She’s finally feeling happy in her life once again after so much misery from all of the villains and incidents she faced not too long ago; she’s making friends, the people of Burnside love her, and she even has a semi-boyfriend in the form of Officer Liam. Sure, she’s on the outs with Dinah at this point, but things could be worse. However, her latest target to takedown, Jordan Barberi (a rich reality show star who’s a druggie and a bit of a thug), may cause some problems.
Huh? Oh sorry, I kind of zoned out there for a sec.
I have to admit, this issue took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting the direction the story took and honestly, I like it. Batgirl #38 continues to follow Batgirl’s rise to fame and how popular/happy she is becoming as result of it. However, the story also shows the negative aspects: people’s negative reactions to her actions, her own growing inflated sense of justice, and her giving what she thinks the people of Burnside and her fans want in pursuing Barberi. All of these aspects, the buildup to the conclusion, and fallout of her actions honestly end on a rather dour but surprisingly natural note. I mean that in the sense that everything that happens here plays out realistically and not in some artificial way like some other titles’ stories do.
And that’s where one of the biggest strengths of this issue lies: the writing and story structure. Every scene here serves a purpose in contributing to plot and Barbara’s character. Plus, the social media angle actually plays an important part in the actual story and doesn’t feel as in your face/forced like it is prone to do at times while side/subplots are continuing to build up slowly in the background. All of this makes for a very meaty and filling story.
No time for sleeping! Get to work!
Probably the biggest thing that’ll get people talking this time around is Batgirl’s actions. In particular, some of her more… extreme actions that are both risky and done out in the open. Dinah actually calls her out on this in the opening pages, saying she’s actually too much like a celebrity and even childish, while Babs talks about how she’s finally feeling happy, that people like her, and she isn’t miserable like she has been in the past. The thing about that is that they are technically both right. Babs should be allowed to be happy and have people that like her, but she is also letting the fame get to her a bit. All this culminates in a rather disastrous finale when Babs becomes too self-righteous and starts thinking too much about trying to appeal to people; this leads to a dangerous car chase that results in citizens nearly getting hit and a restaurant getting destroyed. This attitude and how much of a mess Batgirl ends up causing will certainly cause some fans to get annoyed, which is understandable. However, the direction with the character makes sense given the buildup through this run and is even influenced by the previous run’s darker and depressing tone. Plus, the consequences were immediate and she knows how badly she screwed up, so it’s not like she isn’t blaming herself. Either way, this issue will get a lot of talk from the fans despite how good Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart’s writing was.
Also, for those who were a bit too frustrated or annoyed with the pop culture and social media aspects of the past few issues (even if it was played more satirically), this particular one tones it down quite a bit and makes these elements play a bigger role in the comic’s story. All in all, a good showing for the writing on the book.
The artwork by Babs Tarr is a treat like usual. All of the characters are very well drawn and look unique, while displaying a full range of emotion and depth. The layouts are strong, with just about every panel having a background and the action is incredible to behold. Speaking of which, the whole car chase sequence was incredible and really shines over almost every bit of action the comic has had so far in this run. You can really feel the intensity and excitement of it throughout. Toss in some beautiful coloring and you got another wonderful looking addition to this series.
Is It Good?
Batgirl #38 is another winning issue of the series that heads in a rather surprising direction. While Batgirl’s behavior might raise some eyebrows, all of the writing, development, and characterization is just so good and well developed that it doesn’t matter. Definitely worth a look if you have been enjoying the series thus far.