Review: Batgirl #39

Babs is up against…herself? In Batgirl #39, written by Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart, with art by Babs Tarr, colors by Maris Wicks and lettering by Jared K. Fletcher.

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My love-hate relationship with this book is reaching a boiling point; there’s a bounty on Babs’ head by a mysterious entity posing as her and she’s bent on clearing her name, and patching things up with Dinah. The latter is done and rather well; things are a bit stiff and awkward as usually seen between friends who have had a blow out and Dinah helps her find this perspective again.

 

POSITIVES

Art continues to be nice. This issue was actually pretty sedate and not to say it felt rushed but was just, not as dynamic as it usually is art wise. Ultimately Frankie discovers who Babs is (not that hard guys) and the “doppledanger” is revealed; the program Babs developed herself for her thesis using an algorithm of Babs’ own brain. The last page is swath in a digital Babs with some Oracle feels.

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NEGATIVES

I just really need Babs to get she stuff together. Her personality is just all over the place comparing the old series to now and while it’s somewhat lampshaded she’s also been highly inconsistent even here. It’s just so green and naive all over again; had this been a square one reboot with her as a rookie, I’d be all for it, it’s like a grown up Year One though even that Babs was more proactive. I feel for Babs for struggling with her work and balancing her hero life but it often rings somewhat hollow here.  This cast of unnecessary non-heroes is way too crowded and while it’s such an improvement over the strangely sparse world of Gail Simone’s book, it is just too much. A lot of the characters are unnecessary. There are heroes they could be using, people in the hero world. Most of the “attractive” male characters while pretty diverse are all drawn with similar builds. Girls too. Why Babs is all alone (besides Black Canary?) in heroing? Why doesn’t she have help and funds? The problem I guess is that this is all just aimless wandering around the same territory. Babs hasn’t grown much and has regressed back and forth for nearly 40 issues now. That’s not good. The story should be long, long, long developed and moved on by now, and seeing Babs in so much doubt is such a smack to the history of Oracle and self-sufficiency that she’s had even as Batgirl. I like flaws and no one is perfect, but my god let this girl grow.

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Out of all the Batgirl’s, Babs Gordon has always had in my opinion, and this is not a detriment to the character, a rather selfish reason for being Batgirl, and that was she, deep down is an adrenaline junkie. She liked taking the risks and being dangerous as Batgirl (and helping people of course) because her original life was boring and she was perceived as bookish. That origin is pretty sexist as her in a skintight Batsuit was originally meant to shock her father and his co-workers. I always liked this aspect about being a hero because so few heroes actually own up to or are given that “origin” of thrill-seeker who just sticks with it. The modern equivalent would be Kate Bishop. Had they been brutally honest with us and revealed that yes, she loves the thrill and that’s why she’s doing this then I’d be happy. Otherwise Babs just seems to be Batgirl because editorial edicts her to be. It feels so cloudy as to why she actually…wants to do any of this. Helping people? Maybe. But not with these mistakes.

VERDICT

I like the twist and the higher stakes her programed self presents, this sci-fi twist may make or break this for me and I hope it really works. I’m feeling we might be seeing the creation of an AI (after she defeats and reprograms it) that may help her. Perhaps this entity will become Oracle. Again if this was an AU I would adore this for what it is but in the broader sense it just feels so intentionally keeping Babs as small time. She shouldn’t be small time. Why does she have to be small time. Even the radically different switch to Darywn Cooke’s Catwoman from what she was before, felt more organic and transitioned better than this and really helped the character grow. This is backpedaling way too much.

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  • Matthew B. Lloyd

    I can’t do regressed Barbara either. She should be portrayed as confident and capable.