Barbara learns a lesson in Batgirl #38, written by Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart, with art by Babs Tarr, colors by Maris Wicks and lettering by Jared K. Fletcher.
After last months problematic issue this month’s issue is thankfully a bit better. I still have to think of this as an AU in context with the rest of Gotham, but it’s better. Babs and Dinah have a much needed row, Dinah’s had a pessimistic edge and a voice of criticism for Babs since her stuff burned, and a fight was very much coming. They fight, Dinah asking what the hell is up with Babs and her new obsession with being a social media driven neighborhood vigilante and the change in personality. It’ very meta and actually is a pretty good bridge, one of the few this team has actually given, to the old book under Gail. Dinah says she’s acting like a completely different person, is acting like a child and asked if her moving away from Alysia was because she was too much of an adult. I personally agree that Babs has been very childish since the reboot. Babs says she was tired of being miserable all the time. Which is also warranted. It’s very meta. This kind of writing makes me wonder if the writers really are reading the criticisms of the new run as too flippant or this is revealing that the new tone was deliberately irrelevant from the start, to throw people off and that as we might be seeing a slight tone shift, where stakes will rise and we’ll get a more balanced book again.
Whatever the case, Babs ends up causing some huge property damage which is the writers way of showing her responsibility for her actions.
Dinah chewing Babs out is needed. She slapped her in Birds of Prey, she needs it now again (troublesome that Babs can’t get her stuff together since that slap and now). I’ve felt a lot of what Babs is doing right now is escapist, she’s not really fixing her problems but masking them over with colorful band-aids and trying to be a normal person. Since the reboot Babs has in general acted pretty horribly and even though she’s slightly more likable now I’m still not very fond of her if I’m looking at it as a consistent narrative. If I looked at this as an AU, all of this would be excused but it’s not for me so it’s really hard.
While I appreciate a large ensemble cast, it certainly feels more organic than Gail’s sparsely populated and nightmarish and surreal one, the issue with Batgirl right now is that there are so many non-hero people it feels sort of cluttered and makes Babs feel so small time. Maybe that’s the point, that she’s deliberately doing the neighborhood thing. Babs Tarr draws really cute people so at least they’re nice to look at, and the book is rather populated with attractive boys (Babs current cop boyfriend person Liam is boring and bland as hell by the way) for hetero girls and queer readers to oogle, they even subjected brainy Qadir, the closest Babs has to a sidekick or tech backup as of yet, to some mild objectification this issue.
It’s not much of a criticism but it just feels so crowded and Babs feels more excluded from the hero world than ever. Even as Oracle she had more daily interaction with heroes and other crime fighters. Not like I want more cameos but it just makes me think of the time she had with Steph and Cass and other heroes going in and out of her base in Cass’ title, and in Birds of Prey.
Speaking of which while I love their take on Canary with her skintone and her hair color, it is literally not in line with her former incarnation in the reboot Birds of Prey. She seems so young and is now a rocker? She was a top secret government agent, she was married before. Perhaps this just goes in line with the fresh new feel; I would have pegged the old former new Canary in the Nu52 I would have pegged her as in her mid to late 20s (just like I’d have put Babs at age 23-25). I guess they’ve swept that under the rug. She’s so dissonant to the former Dinah in the same reboot. If it was an AU, I’d be all over it, but it’s not. So I’m having a hard time putting these two characters together as the same one. Her impatience with Babs right now luckily won over some points.
Being said, Babs mistakes here and her responsibility to damaging the diner are so…green. It’s such a rookie thing. Babs is not a rookie. She was Batgirl for a year before. She was Batgirl for I don’t know how long since she recovered under Gail, not long, but still long enough. This is not the type of lessons a 21 year old should be learning and being admonished for. The infantilization is not fun guys, she’s more of a pro than this. If this is to show her personal problems and mental health are affecting her heroing, then by all means do it but I don’t think they’d go there.
Better than last. Still cute art, great colors, ends on a cliffhanger with yet another person impersonating Babs so perhaps we’ll actually get somewhere soon. Scores high due to art though I’m still not sold.