The burning of Burnside continues as Oracle and the Terrible Trio enact the next phase of their plan to ensnare Batgirl. Year of the Villain continues and it looks to spell certain Doom for Batgirl and Frankie!
While I’ve greatly enjoyed the Oracle storyline in the last few issues, I have felt as though the story suffered somewhat when it had to include more nods to the Year of the Villain event. It has occasionally felt like the main plot has taken a bit of a backseat while we get diversions into Luthor’s schemes.
I was very pleased to see this issue juggle both plot lines in a very balanced way, with the Year of the Villain references simply blending in with the general chaos brought about by Oracle’s explosive attack.
Thanks to some handy exposition, it didn’t feel like I needed to have another two books open to follow any of this. Instead, Year of the Villain simply provides an intense background for this story, raising the stakes by tangentially involving Apex Lex.
The real meat of this story involves Frankie’s attempts to reach Barbara and get her help. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve really appreciated this run’s commitment to including the old Burnside supporting cast a little bit more, so it was a thrill to see Frankie showing just how capable she can be, even surprising the rogue Oracle once or twice. Meanwhile, it was interesting to see how quickly Jason Bard spun the attacks into a smear campaign against Batgirl and company, which means his turn to the side of the angels is a little more complex than we’ve been led to believe. Bard’s character development continues to be one of the more intriguing aspects of this storyline.
The artwork throughout is fantastic, particularly in the ways in which Carmine Di Giandomenico illustrates how Batgirl makes her way through a particular space. The panels are broken up over a larger background that clearly shows Batgirl putting disparate clues together as she gets closer and closer to her target. It’s truly fantastic visual storytelling.
Likewise, the action sequences that break up the issue are well done, with Babs showing how little time she cares to spend on fending off the Trio, lithely hopping over them and moving along. Without spoiling anything specific, there’s also a surprising bit of body horror toward the end that is made even eerier by Jordie Bellaire’s choice of colors.
All in all, this was my favorite installment yet of this storyline. Thanks to Cecil Castellucci’s careful plotting, Batgirl has more to lose than ever before, a threat which ties in nicely to both Year of the Villain and the plot threads that have been building since the beginning of Mairghread Scott’s run.