Barbara Gordon steps on her father’s toes when she volunteers at the campaign offices of an anti-GCPD politician. Can she uncover a congressional conspiracy involving an old enemy before her relationship with her dad is toast?
This was a solid transitional issue between story arcs. It touched on Barbara’s recent health scare and subsequent surgery while planting numerous seeds for future plot lines.
The most striking thing is how relevant this issue’s plot feels. Between the protest-turned-ugly and hints of conspiracy within a campaign, regardless of political affiliation, readers will no doubt see much of today’s news cycle reflected in the story at hand. Luckily, this story (so far) is being told without the usual clumsy heavy hand that unfortunately befalls many superhero books that try to double as commentary. What I think helps the most in this regard is that it focuses on plot over preaching. It’s building a mystery and a new conflict without getting sidelined with heady, out-of-character speeches.
Continuing the thread of exploring Babs and Jim’s relationship (the high point of this run, so far), the conflict between father and daughter in this issue is also very relatable. We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve argued with a loved one over politics. Even though Barbara’s decision to volunteer at the campaign office is a ruse to get her closer to the bad guys, it’s easy to project ourselves onto Babs and Jim as they bicker over differences in principles and feel disrespected by their own family. This is something the Batgirl title has excelled at ever since Gail Simone’s relaunch in 2011: giving real-world emotional stakes to the world of superheroes.
It’s also interesting to see how frazzled Jim Gordon is these days, what with his strained relationship with Batman over in the main title and allegations of corruption being leveled at his police force. It’s nice to see consequences from one book being incorporated into others, especially when considering how insular Batgirl has been in recent years.
Speaking of the tight-knit world of Batgirl, it’s still kind of a bummer to see how little her Burnside supporting cast has been utilized since “Rebirth.” We still occasionally check in with Frankie and Alysia gets a mention every now and then, but there’s not much to hang your hat on in those scenes. It does seem like these little asides are building to a future plot-line concerning Babs’ old company, Gordon Clean Energy, but they feel like a terrible tease, considering Babs’ friendships formed the heart of what made the Brendan Fletcher and Hope Larson’s runs on the character work so well. I’m happy that Mairghread Scott is doing her own thing with the series and not trying to simply coast on what worked before, but it does feel like something is missing from Barbara’s story. Then again, it’s nice to see that Barbara feels the same way. I’m interested to see where these threads are leading and how/if Babs can reconcile the differences between her life in Gotham vs. Burnside.