Batgirl has followed the trail of bodies left behind by the latest villain to take the name Grotesque. Following the instructions of sentient A.I. Wyrm, Grotesque plans to destroy a museum full of civilians in order to cover his tracks. Unable to fight for prolonged periods of time due to her malfunctioning spinal implant, Barbara has to infiltrate the gala being held at the museum and stop Grotesque’s plans. The only hitch? The place is crawling with police officers, including her own father!
This was another solid issue from Babs’ new creative team. Mairghread Scott understands the importance of optimism in writing Barbara Gordon. Batgirl may be back in the darker side of Gotham, but her current enemy and predicament aren’t clouding her vision of what’s most important to her: family and friends. The exploration of the relationship between Barbara and Jim Gordon has been the strongest point of this latest chapter of Batgirl, which continues with this issue. Barbara has the strength of will to continue as Batgirl – even as paralysis threatens to claim her again – and it’s obvious that this strength runs in the family when we get to see how Commissioner Gordon always looks out for everyone else before himself.
The action sequence that takes up much of the issue was a lot of fun, if a little difficult to follow at some points. Not having read Wyrm or the Dark Web’s previous appearance in Nightwing, I wasn’t terribly familiar with the “rules” of Wyrm or the Dark Web. Scott’s scripts in this issue and the last illuminated some of those questions with Barbara’s narration detailing their last encounter, but I still found myself flipping back a few pages when I was finished reading, just to make sure I had a handle on how the fight had ended and how the villain’s control over its victims actually worked.
I also felt that the resolution to this first arc was a little too quick and tidy. It does seem like the threat of Wyrm will continue to be felt going forward, but the quick disposal of some key villains from this arc and the hand-waving away of Batgirl’s “wanted” status seemed a little convenient. Hopefully, the after-effects of Barbara’s latest surgery will be explored as well. I may be jumping the gun here, as future issues may pick these threads back up, so I will reserve my judgement on that front.
What is on the page as of now, though, is a solid story with spectacular artwork that has me feeling pretty confident about the future of this title. In fact, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little misty-eyed toward the end of this issue as Babs remembers all of her father’s words of encouragement throughout her life and superhero career. It’s that kind of humanity that makes me such a fan of this character, so I’m glad to see that hasn’t changed with the new line-up behind scenes.
You can take Batgirl out of Burnside, but this spectacular creative team is clearly taking great care to show us that you can’t quite take the Burnside out of Batgirl, even in her lowest moments.