This Year of the Villain tie-in issue works a lot better as an installment of the regular Batgirl series than last month’s did, with more of a focus on Barbara’s day to day life and her struggles with her dual identity. It also gave the book’s new creative team more of a chance to shine.
Carmine Di Giandomenico’s artwork continues to impress, particularly in some of the fun design details for Killer Moth and Batgirl herself. The sort of stitched together design for Batgirl shows just how down and out our heroine is, but also that she doesn’t give up, literally piecing together a suit from the remains of all her other fried costumes. It’s a neat look that will be fun to see carry through this arc.
Cecil Castellucci seems gets to dive more into Batgirl and her supporting cast with this issue, now that much of the set-up involving Lex Luthor is out of the way. It was fun to meet the people Babs gets to cover for her, even if they don’t know why they do it. And while things are still rocky between Barbara and her father, it was nice to hear it being referenced without quite so much doom and gloom, with Babs making it clear that she still loves her dad, even when they’re on the outs.
Those little character moments aside, it also reinforced what a badass Batgirl is, as well as reminding us that she can outthink any villain. This issue really shows us why Babs was still such an effective crimefighter in the years when she wasn’t Batgirl. She has a keen understanding of the way things work and how to pull them apart, as seen in the sequence when she figures out the quickest way to trip a sprinkler system to get out of a jam.
This is furthered by the hushed tones in which the Terrible Trio discuss Oracle, reminding us that Oracle was once a prominent figure in Gotham City and beyond. When Vulture says, “Oracle used to take down people like us like it was nothing,” it really feels like the first significant acknowledgement of Oracle’s importance in quite some time, reaching a level that not even the replacement Oracle of Batgirl and the Birds of Prey got across.
We also get to see Killer Moth out of costume and slightly less cocky than previously seen. It’s a great twist on the character to see that he’s more capable than ever, but that’s just because he’s paying for better equipment. He’s still the same old screwup with some fancy new toys, which somehow makes Killer Moth even more petulant than usual. It’s a great read on the character.
As for our other villains, we still know so little about this new Terrible Trio, so it was odd to see one of their named associates disposed of so quickly. It’s unclear if the Trio themselves cared more for this character than they let on, but it’ll be interesting to see how long they’ll be able to hang with Oracle if they keep making poor decisions like these. The Trio were kind of along for the ride in this issue, so it remains to be seen if they’ll step up a bit more as this storyline continues.
Ultimately, this issue was a step up from last month’s already impressive kick off to this new Oracle arc. The danger continues to grow and if there’s anyone can piece it all together, it’s Batgirl!