Back on Track for Batgirl
Batgirl is back. After requiring surgery to fix her spinal implant that allows her to walk, Barbara Gordon wastes no time in getting right back to the action. However, this time, it seems Barbara’s battle won’t just be on the streets of Gotham, it’ll be at the voting polls.
We start with Batgirl on a rooftop looking down on the city. As she puts it, “Everyone finds their way to convince themselves to jump off a rooftop.” And because this is Barbara, her way is by repeating her checklist of grapple gun, smoke pellets and batarangs to herself. Barbara reveals through her inner dialogue that we have a new Congressional candidate in Gotham, Luciana Alejo. Alejo is running on the platform of ridding Gotham of corruption, and her first target is the Gotham City Police Department. As expected, Commissioner Gordon is not too thrilled by the fact that his men are being made the symbol of Gotham’s problems. At a rally for Alejo, things quickly become violent when a small number of men attack. However, rather than targeting Alejo, they attack the police officers present in an attempt to seem like Alejo supporters. This plan is interrupted when Batgirl drops in to save the day. At least that was her plan until coming face to face with her father, the Commissioner. Not knowing this is his little girl, Gordon immediately confronts Batgirl for getting involved. While the two of them are arguing, an explosion goes off, knocking them back to cover the thugs escape. Batgirl quickly recovers and pursues the men, only to discover that one of them is Jason Bard, the former police Commissioner that framed Jim Gordon for murder (and Barbara’s ex fiancé in pre-52 continuity). The shock of seeing the man who worked so hard to frame her father gets the better of Batgirl, allowing Bard to spray her with pepper spray and escape.
The next morning as Barb tries to wash the last bits of pepper out of her eyes, her father comes into the kitchen and comments about the commercial playing for Alejo’s campaign. He then makes a comment about Batgirl losing faith in him, to which Barbara reminds him that Batgirl was never against him. As if the tension wasn’t thick enough, Barbara reveals to her father that she plans on volunteering to help with Alejo’s campaign. This sending Jim into a fit of frustration that ends in a shouting match between the two. What Jim doesn’t know is that the only reason Barbara wants to volunteer with his opposition is to protect her from Bard and his lackeys. However, once she arrives at the campaign office, she is met by an unexpected face: Jason Bard. It turns out Bard has positioned himself in Alejo’s camp to “protect” her from the opposition. When Alejo states that she isn’t afraid of her political rival, Branson Moore, Bard states, “How about Cormorant? You afraid of him?” While many are undoubtedly left scratching their heads, Cormorant is a character that hasn’t been used in a long time. Cormorant was a hitman in the pre-crisis continuity that was hired to kill Batgirl and failed. It will be very interesting to see him make his return and hopefully leave a lasting impression this time.
When Batgirl was moved from Gotham to Burnside, I wasn’t interested in the book at all. It seemed geared strictly at teenage girls, from the subject matter to the dialogue. However recently, it seems things are changing for the better. Rather than worrying about going on a date with Batwing or Penguin’s son (yes, that really did happen) or taking selfies with downed opponents, Batgirl seems to be growing up again. Barbara is handling herself like an adult, and we’re getting shades of the mature person she was before her Burnside reboot.
I enjoyed everything about this issue, from the story to the art. Having such a large amount of tension between Barb and Jim will be interesting going forward, especially if he discovers his daughter is now connected to the man that tried to put him in prison. In addition, the writer Mairghread Scott follows the trend that started with Rebirth of pulling unknown and obscure characters into the spotlight. However, without a doubt, my favorite part of this series so far is the art. Paul Pelletier has been killing it since joining the book, in my opinion. While I actually liked the suit she used in Burnside, the way he crafted her new suit by taking an older look and revamping it was a brilliant choice, as far as I’m concerned. Speaking of the art, the variant cover by Joshua Middleton is absolutely gorgeous. However, I do have to say that I’m a little biased. To me, the Batgirl on the cover bears a resemblance to Emma Stone, someone who I have always considered a great choice for a live action Barbara Gordon. Overall, between the story itself, the art inside the book and the variant cover, this is probably my favorite issue of Batgirl in years.