Reviews – DC Comics: Batgirl #21

Posted: June 20, 2013 in Reviews - DC Comics
Tags: , , , , ,

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Written By: Gail Simone
Pencils By: Fernando Pasarin / Inks By: Jonathan Glapion / Colours By: Blond / Letters By: Taylor Esposito
Price: $2.99

Batgirl may very well be the most tortured hero in the DC Universe, and oddly enough, that may actually make her the most relatable. Why? Because in a world where the pinnacle is a man with gadgets and plans for every scenario, an alien with nearly limitless power and a woman whose powers literally stems from the magic of the Greek Gods, Batgirl is possibly the most human of human heroes.

Now, you won’t get this from looking at the cover of Batgirl #21, but to my mind, the most important element at play in this issue’s story, is family. Barbara Gordon is a woman with two families, one as herself, and one as Batgirl, and both of those families have been having some major troubles in recent months. The core of the Bat-Family has been all but destroyed since the events of Death of the Family when confrontation with The Joker left the younger members of Team Batman on the outs with their mentor. Those events were quickly followed by the death of the youngest bat, and while Barbara and Damian were never given much together time in The New 52, positioning him as her brother wouldn’t be a stretch. That brings us to Barbara natural family, with her estranged mother and psychotic brother James returning to her life causing all sorts of turmoil. The former, while attempting to repair her relationship with her daughter, found herself tormented by The Joker, and the latter, Barbara, as Batgirl, believes herself to have killed recently, an event that was witnessed by their father, Commissioner Gordon. Yes, that’s a lot of background, but it plays the very important role here of giving us a glimpse not Barbara’s state of mind as she struggles with her identity and how to move forward, going so far at one point of this issue as to choose not to even refer to herself as Batgirl. The role of family goes even deeper here then just background though, as the issue kicks off with a painful, yet undeniably realistic and relatable conversation between Batgirl and Nightwing that in no way is a talk between two superheroes, but rather between two people. Then later, as the confrontation between not-Batgirl and The Ventriliquist comes to a head, and we were given a deeper look into who this villain is and the role her own family has played in things, Barbara’s own problems are given an exquisite contrast.

This issue of a Batgirl is really a beautifully scripted character drama. Yes, it probably plays better to someone like me who has read the entire series and even relatively recently The Killing Joke, a story that still plays heavily on the character of Barbara Gordon even post-reboot, but I believe that there is enough information conveyed in the initial pages that even if this is the first comic book you’ve read, you’ll be able to understand the deeper nature of what’s happening here. And even if you don’t, the confrontation with The Ventriliquist is itself certainly something to witness, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it made son people as uncomfortable as it did Batgirl.

Score: 9.0

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