Let's see what Barbara is currently up to!
|Writen by Cecil Castellucci, Art by Carmine Di Giandomenico|
When I first started reading comics, it was the times of the New 52 and as I already knew who Batman was I started out with reading his books and the ones related to him. This lead me to Gail Simone's run on Batgirl, a character I was first introduced to in the 'The Batman' animated cartoon. I really liked the book; it was well written, I thought the darker tone suited a member of the Bat-family well, it had good artwork and I could see the character of Batgirl growing throughout the run. I stopped reading the book, however, after Gail Simone left the book. The book underwent a very clear tonal and narrative shift that, while not bad, just wasn't something I ended up connecting with. I've not completely dropped reading Batgirl since then though. I still count the character as one of my favourites and I check back in once and a while. Some of those check-ins I've enjoyed, others not so much. I'd say that the issue we're looking at today, with yet another writer behind it, by the way, falls somewhere in between.
The issue starts off with Batgirl mid-fight against a woman who seems to be taken over by some sort of liquid metal. Things are already complicated as Jason Bard, an ex-cop who has a history with both Barbara and Batgirl, is present and not acting the way he should and it becomes even more complicated when a group of armed men come around and try to abduct the woman. Their attempt is foiled and much of the rest of the book is spent by Barbara investigating the liquid-metal while trying to balance her vigilantism and day-job all the while tip-toeing around a potential romance with Jason.
Something that becomes very clear to me while reading this book is that the current writer, Cecil Castellucci, doesn't seem to have a good grasp on Barbara Gordon as a character. I felt that she spent being more reactive than active and I couldn't really get a grasp on her motivations here. Another thing that I noticed, and something that rubbed me the wrong, is the romantic pairing of Jason and Barbara. These characters have a history together and not a good one. If you want to know the details you should read Batman Eternal but it comes down to Jason having been a dirty-cop who was willing to throw Barbara's dad, Commissioner Gordon, under the bus to further his own agenda. The narration does make it clear that he is trying to better himself, which does admittedly make for an interesting story, but pushing a romance between them is going a bit too far if you ask me.
That's kind off everything I wanted to talk about, basically because the issue doesn't give me more to talk about. It's not that that's all the issue had to offer, the book has one surprise in store that I'm not going to spoil, it's more than the story progressing exactly the way you think. Aside from that one surprise near the end, the story is very predictable. The level of writing, artwork and pacing are all good and the issue is no doubt made by competent people the book isn't bad at all. It's just that being very predictable and by the numbers and not having a good grasp on Batgirl as a character doesn't make it very memorable.