An all-star team of creators join Cameron Stewart and Brendan Fletcher in Batgirl Annual #3 featuring art and colors by Bengal, David LaFuente, Ming Doyle, Mingjue Helen Chen, Gabe Eltabe, Ivan Plascencia, and letters by Steve Wands.
Babs is on the case when an amnesiac almost walks into traffic, muttering things about a “Negahedron”. She soon finds out he’s a UN member and one of five missing U.N. diplomats. CCTV recordings last spotted him after he went missing near Shrike Tower. Babs goes to investigate and comes upon Helena Bertinelli and you guessed it, Dick. Helena tells Dick to stay out of site. Her and Dick are investigating their own case; terrorists stealing tech from Spyral. Things get..explosive. The story ricochets from there as Babs tries to figure out the entirety of the mystery and encounters Spoiler, teams up with Batwoman and finally makes a stop at Gotham Academy.
Batgirl is in good hands with these different artists and taking Batgirl out of Burnside has never looked better for nuBabs. First, this feels oddly preboot with it’s wider reaching plot and team-ups. Preboot it felt like these kind of interactions were much more common (particularly with Birds of Prey tying everyone together) but right now books are awfully segmented unless a “guest star” is announced whereas before it was just much more…natural. Why it takes an annual to have this feeling? The art is also a plus. Bengal in particular comes off as the most adept with very fluid action and panel usage and very likable if not slightly cute faces for their characters and depiction of Babs whose new design constantly makes her look as young as 17 year old Steph Brown but Bengal makes it work for her.
Sadly not all the art is the most kinetic, Ming Doyle for all her gorgeous work has a very static look but the mature feel and team-up with Batwoman here is very welcomed. The writing for Stephanie Brown is surprisingly rough considering Cameron Stewart drew her in Leviathan Strikes. She comes off partially true to form but there’s something about her dialogue that’s a bit too giddy and hyper. Most of the Bat-women have gotten doses of Misfit to their persons. I know it’s a new Steph Brown and her hyper-ness is supposed to show immaturity but it’s quite odd to see both her and Babs so close. Definitely the weakest writing in the bunch though parts were oddly endearing and once again made me think of preboot Batfam interactions.
This is fun and I like the story with its interwoven arcs and elements. I’m quite impressed to see what the writers are able to do when they actually allow Babs all over Gotham instead of confining her to just Burnside. It’s so much more appealing to give her these more intricate plots. I think it’s funny they acknowledged this through Helena as well. In all a good show for Batgirl and Batfam fans.