Review: Batgirls #19 (Last Issue)
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad
Art: Robbi Rodriguez
Colors: Rico Renzi
Letters: Becca Carey
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
It’s the conclusion to The Hill shooter storyline as well as the finale for this title. How will the Batgirls catch the sniper and who is the sniper…or are there two shooters?
Batgirls #19, like every other issue of the series, is just plain fun. There’s some great action, adventure and art along the way, and some heart, but we never lose sight of the fact that Cass and Steph are having fun. Is it wrong for comics to be fun? No, it’s not. There some more serious things touched on in this issue, but it’s hard not to connect with the pure enjoyment of reading a comic about characters that are fun- it’s what the original Robin, Dick Grayson was all about.
Cloonan and Conrad have built this series very effectively. The stories rely on the characterization of Cass, Steph and Babs. This issue brings to close a subplot that’s been running- Steph’s desire to be a better fighter. She’s had some rough experiences of late, but she’s come through them and we see the results in this issue. She’s gained some confidence and skill and it pays off in Batgirls #19. Plus, her own natural talents in combat come to the fore as she takes down one of the shooters. Who knew trash talking could be so effective?
Robbi Rodriguez gives a stellar performance on the art this issue. There are some great action and “pin-up” worthy shots throughout the book. Be it the last page, one of the shooters taking a bullet or the fight choreography, Rodriguez brings his “A” game and stands out this issue perhaps more so than any other. The choice to put Officer Brooks in the Ben Cooper Batman mask is a brilliant call back- more fun! The unique color palette that’s been a mainstay of this title from both Sarah Stern and Rico Renzi keep the look of the book consistent here. It’s a very exciting approach to use a limited yet specific set of colors to create a special feel and visual appearance for the series. When I say it’s art I mean Art.
Conrad and Cloonan sign off with a couple of special moments. First, Grace O’Halloran has faced a drinking problem throughout this series and this issue see’s her hard work come to fruition. She’s honest with Roky about how hard it’s been, but she’s held on. It’ a nice moment when Roky acknowledges that hard work. It’s also a nice bit of personal growth and healing that’s not often shown for a supporting character. It’s an adult theme handled well in a serious manner, and it’s a mature touch that is quite unique.
The final page gives the reader a true “goodbye.” And, it’s something greater than a “thanks and farewell.” It’s a mini treatise on shared experiences. The idea that everyone is a Batgirl is an important plot point these final two issues. This final page includes the reader. All of us reading together over the past year and a half have shared these issues together and we, like Steph, Cass and Babs are now Batgirls as well because of this shared experience. This is another mature piece of writing as it is something that can be applied to all experiences and teach us something about life. So, think about the people with whom you’ve shared unique experiences, high school, college, work, military service, trauma, natural disaster…you are connected because of this. The lesson is that we are more alike than different, we are all people here together, to think about how you treat your fellow man. What would Batgirl do? After all, we are all Batgirls, now.
The obvious negative is that this is the last issue of Batgirls. It’s difficult to understand why some books sell and why other don’t. Every comic can’t be a best seller, but it hurts to see the books you love get cancelled, while other titles you will never read keep on going either continuously or via perpetual reboots. Batgirls is a book that offers something different, something with more heart, more sensitivity, more…cleverness…. Recently I’ve been rereading the 2009 Power Girl series by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner. Throughout the issues I’ve noticed house ads for a lot of series that I was loving back then that all got cancelled when DC rebooted with the New 52- Adventure Comics, Zatanna, and of course Power Girl. Batgirls will be missed for all the reasons it’s been a great series, and especially because it isn’t just like everything else.
Get out a few tissues for the tears you’ll have to wipe away as they roll over your smile as we say good by to Batgirls. Batgirls #19 goes out with an inspiring and thoughtful message coupled with some great action, excellent art and beautiful colors. Perhaps, one day we’ll meet again, this could be just the beginning.