Velvet Tiger strikes in Batgirl #44 written by Cameron Stewart and Brendan Fletcher, Bengal on art, Serge Lapointe on colors and Steve Wands on letters.
Babs figures out Velvet Tiger’s identity and seeks out to rescue Alysia’s fiance Jo who has been pegged as Velvet Tiger’s next victim in a string of framed murders. Babs works alongside Qadir, Alysia and a surprise new ally (well not entirely a surprise – but not in the way you’d expect!) but Velvet Tiger uses drugged claws and sends Babs in a drugged sleep. However Babs’ efforts are enough and Velvet Tiger is more or less cooked. It’s not entirely too complicated of a plot this issue, which is fine.
Go Alysia Yeoh! We see Alysia do some heroic action of her own and it’s quite a feat. I wonder if there will be more in store for that…
Frankie meanwhile shows her current hand with her development of her superhero alter-ego (we’re going to assume by mention of Delphi) of Oracle. It’s been teased for the past two issues but this time we see what she’s actually doing: by remote controlling (with her mind!) Babs motorcycle she was able to get the drugged Babs out of Velvet Tiger’s liar. We then see her with a special device placed on her neck mentally controlling a few drones and the bike. It’s definitely a different interpretation of what Oracle means and functions and while the perpetual sting of Babs not being the one to actually be her (she did create the base program/code that Frankie is working with) it’s rather exciting to see the route they take with Frankie.
Velvet Tiger certainly fits the “feel” of Burnside, young, hip and sort campy crowd. but if they’re trying to set up a true original cache of villains for Batgirl, she’s not really that strong of a villain and acts/looks like vintage Catwoman copy-cat. The reason for her villainy is pretty cliche and a tired too.
I still am not fond of Babs’ smarts being so split up between a lot of her friends. I really am not ashamed to say that I want her to be a brainy know-it-all and extremely techy. She’s supposed to be the brainy Batgirl if you must have a flavor and I feel like while it’s definitely improved since Gail’s run in terms of showing us what she can do and what she does (it’s very obvious she’s brilliant and technologically focused as per her major and her friends) but she’s still not as hands on as I’d like. I still get shades of Stephanie Brown and Misfit here and I’d like to not.
I wasn’t a huhe fan of how Luke Fox was drawn in this issue. It’s not terrible but not great either. I was surprised at him and Babs being set up, but then again everyone likes Babs in this book. On a sidebar, there is a slight problem in this book that I’m constantly mistaking many of the minor young white men Babs associates with for one another. They all sort of blend and I sort of don’t care who they are. Babs Tarr have a very diverse roster technically but structurally a lot of her men look the same, with Bengal channeling Tarr this issue it doesn’t really change things much. Thankfully Luke does stand out from them under Bengal’s pen.
Okay art from Bengal who is solid but not as “pretty” as Tarr’s work marks a slightly different feeling this issue but nice color palettes save this from total mediocrity. As does Frankie, who is, without a doubt, quite cool.