This review contains spoilers.
Batgirl #49 is written by Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher with art by Horacio Domingues, Babs Tarr, Roger Robinson, Ming Doyle and James Harvey and colors by Serge Lapointe and Harvey. In this issue, Dinah and Frankie have to save Barbara from her own mind.
Batgirl had to fight an A.I. version of herself that planned on destroying the city. A mysterious man named Greg showed up and Barbara claimed that he was an old friend from her childhood. It turned out that he was actually a villain called the Fugue and he has been toying with Barbara’s mind. Batgirl and Black Canary confronted the Fugue but he attacked Barbara leaving her comatose.
Frankie is implanting herself in Barbara’s subconscious but the Fugue’s psychic firewalls keep kicking her out while the Spoiler and Bluebird search for the Fugue. She then suggests that she could use Barbara’s evil A.I. since it is a map of Barbara’s brain. Using this map, they can correct the damage.
Frankie and the A.I. travel through Barbara’s mind and discover real and false memories. They discover that Greg was a bank robber that Barbara put in jail. He returned after three years and attacked her. After the attack, Frankie and the A.I. see false memories involving Batman and Commissioner Gordon. The visions end with the Fugue burying Barbara. When Frankie tries to save her, the A.I. boots her out. However, Dinah suggests that Frankie simply merge the A.I. with Barbara which she does.
This saves Barbara who wakes up with her memories intact. She remembers the Fugue telling her that he is going to sell her personal information to the enemies she has made in Burnside. And when that happens, he is also going to use the energy project she’s been working on with Luke Fox to destroy Gotham. The comic ends with Batgirl stating to Frankie, Black Canary, the Spoiler and Bluebird that they are going to take down the Fugue together.
The situation presented is effectively twisted. The Fugue is an incredibly messed up individual who hurts Barbara in every possible way. He’s an intimidating figure and it’s sad to see Barbara suffer the way she does here.
This type of story is actually quite common in the real world which makes it scarier. It’s a terrifying notion. The idea that someone can hack into your life and release every one of your secrets for strangers and enemies to use against you is sick.
I like how pathetic and insane the Fugue is. His motivation is actually pretty weak; he only spent three years in jail and that’s enough of an excuse to destroy someone’s life. It makes the situation even scarier because Barbara didn’t do anything wrong.
The art is really wonderful and strange. The mind trip is appropriately bizarre with various styles of artwork that also feel cohesive. There’s a large amount of great imagery throughout the book.
I love that Stephanie Brown is in this book. I hope she becomes a more regular part of Team Batgirl in the future.
I have a hard time believing that the Fugue was able to capture and manipulate Batgirl so easily. She’s an incredibly skilled fighter and she just stands there when the Fugue first uses his technology against her. It was kind of ridiculous. The writers also don’t explain the Fugue’s tech well. He says he just bought it from someone but never who this person is or what exactly it does. Science is really played with here and as a reader, you just have to accept certain things.
This is an unsettling story in the best way possible. The Fugue’s motivation and plan is insanely creepy and is able to bring Barbara to her weakest point. In addition, there is wonderful art and colors throughout. Some of the science feels wonky but it’s a great read besides that. I definitely recommend picking this issue up.