“Son of the Penguin” opens its second chapter this week and you guessed it, it’s tied to the Penguin only this time it’s via his son, who’s recently visiting Gotham and asking Barbara Gordon on a date. Love is in the air, but is it good?
Batgirl #8 (DC Comics)
So what’s it about? The summary reads:
“Son of Penguin” part two! It’s hard enough to juggle a new boyfriend when you’re not secretly investigating him for super-villainy! But is Batgirl dating Ethan Cobblepot to get to bottom of his new tech business…or could she actually like him? Plus, Magpie strikes!
Why does this book matter?
Hope Larson has been writing a strong series so far with a version of Barbara that’s realistic and relatable. Chris Wildgoose has taken over on pencils and he adds a level of realism that makes one wonder if this series could be torn off the page and turned into a CW show.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This is a clever opening.
Larson opens this issue with a fun conflict for Barbara and Ethan (Penguin’s son) that’s downright clever. I won’t spoil it as it’s all about the surprise, but it’s another case where Larson draws from real life and does something you wouldn’t expect in a comic book. That includes Ethan’s app (which plays a part later in the issue), which allows folks to find a person to walk them home and stay safe. There’s also a scene involving kids learning computer code that’s incredibly realistic and factual adding another layer of realism to the series. Hell, there’s even a kitschy bar that’s ridiculous yet plausible. All around the characters talk, walk, and live in a very realistic way.
Storywise, Barbara and Ethan’s relationship gets real very fast and there’s some good character building going on. Ethan gets a flashback which sheds light on his relationship with Penguin, but can any of us really not see he’s going to be a villain eventually?! The cover suggests a bit fight with Magpie, which does occur, but it’s tied into the narrative so well it isn’t some random filler type battle. Another case of Larson writing in a clever way.
Wildgoose doesn’t disappoint in this issue either. The fight scene is a lot of fun, with an introduction to Magpie that involves what appear to be mugshots as Batgirl attempts to remember who she is eventually landing on her mugshot at the bottom of the page. Throughout the book characters are drawn well, backgrounds rendered in great detail, and the look of the book quite something overall. The level of detail is high and I hope Wildgoose can keep it up!
It can’t be perfect can it?
There’s a somewhat jerky segue from a scene where Barbara is hanging with friends, to confronting Magpie, due to Barbara valiantly helping a lady getting hit on by a drunk dude. She dumps bleach on him (they’re in a laundry themed bar…which probably shouldn’t have bleach laying around!), he stumbles off, then overhears Ethan’s walkhome app mentioned above. I suppose she’s being heroic by dumping bleach on the guy’s sweater, but the whole scene feels forced.
Ethan’s backstory with a derelict father in Penguin.
Is It Good?
Batgirl is a breath of fresh air as it adds a layer of realism that’s hard to resist. The characters are fun, realistic, and the writing clever.