Review: Batgirls #16
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]

Writers: Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad
Art: Neil Googe with Geraldo Borges (Finishes p. 16-22 )
Colors: Rico Renzi
Letters: Becca Carey


Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd



The Batgirls are invited to a tea party, and as you might imagine these things never turn out well in Gotham.  A big “change” comes over Steph courtesy the Mad Hatter’s use of Kirk Langstrom‘s infamous formula.


After about half-way through Batgirls #16, it becomes apparent that this comic feels different from the average issue on the stands today.  This is a good thing, and it’s not necessarily the same thing that has made this such a great series.  (Although, that’s there , too.  We’ll get to that shortly!)  Back in the Bronze Age, storytelling was different.  Single issues contained much more content.  A LOT could happen in one 32-page comic.  There was often an emphasis on the adventure and comic booky-ness.  What I mean by that is the sort of strange sci-fi/ fantasy elements that are unique to comics.  Batgirls #16 does this extremely well.  Cass and Steph get right to it in this issue as they have to respond to this invitation by the Mad Hatter.  The plot sizzles along as the duo have to figure out what Tetch’s trap is?  You knew it was a trap right?  

The story is paced quickly, but it doesn’t feel like it’s a disappointingly quick read.  Once the trap is sprung, Cassandra has to figure out how to not only save Stephanie, but also find Tetch and take him in.  And this where the aforementioned “thing” that has made this series so great comes inBatgirls has focused a lot on character to great effect.  Character and the relationships between the characters is what drives this series.  This issue doesn’t rely on it to move the story forward, but rather uses it to affect the outcome.  Conrad and Cloonan have just spent the last story arc demonstrating the depth of Cass and Steph’s friendship.  In Batgirls #16, they uses this efficiently, without having to overwork it, because we already know from what’s come before.  Normally, one might expect a sub-plot to payoff, but here we have characterization/ relationship exploration pay off.  So, while we get the adventure and excitement on top, we get this quick shot of emotion underneath that’s the true payoff.  It’s executed brilliantly and the perfect use of a “set up.”

Positives Cont’d

There are some other details that work well and that are just plain fun.  Firstly, Babs running the mission always conjures up  thoughts of the excellent Birds of Prey comics of the past.  While this series isn’t BoP, it’s a sibling , a welcome sibling at that!  The very mention of “Kirk Langstrom” in the story also brings up another set of associations.  Langstrom’s legacy takes us back to the Bronze Age is part of the wild sci-fi/ fantasy element that are representative of the comic book medium.  These nostalgic aspects dovetail with the storytelling style perfectly.


Maybe, maybe the theme of Steph in danger so soon is too soon?  I can see that, but the issue is executed so well it just doesn’t feel that way.


Batgirls #16 strikes the perfect balance between action, plot, character, nostalgia and emotion.  We shouldn’t be surprised that it’s yet another great issue in this series.  Inductive reasoning should tell us that!  We didn’t even get to mention the fun use of all the expected Alice in Wonderland motifs one would expect in a Mad Hatter story!



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