Review – Batgirl #19: Penguin…Hero?

Batgirl #19 variant cover
Patrolling Burnside. Image copyright DC Comics

Batgirl #19 – Hope Larson, Writer; Chris Wildgoose, Penciller; Jose Marzan Jr., Inker; Mat Lopes, Colorist

Ratings:

Ray – 8/10

Corrina:

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW

Ray: After last issue’s awkward Harley Quinn holiday issue, Batgirl #19 begins the next major arc that will apparently team Batgirl and…Penguin? against a scheme that threatens Burnside’s climate. This title has been socially conscious from the start, taking on issues including the tech sector, gentrification, and surveillance from the start, and that continues from the beginning, as a family-owned donut shop is shaken down by robbers – who turn out to be actors hired by a rival donut shop looking to push out the locals. It’s a clever way to open the issue, and it was good to see some of Babs’ old friends like Qadir again, but soon Burnside finds itself in a crisis – a massive, unexpected blizzard that was somehow missed by every single weather forecaster. While the citizens struggle to adapt, Penguin shows up to help, likely with an ulterior motive of some kind – but the Mayor is in his corner.

Batgirl is naturally suspicious, since the last time she dealt with Penguin she got caught up in a war with his equally evil son, but she has bigger concerns right now. The federal weather alert building in Burnside is currently under the oversight of a climate-denier, and many are suspicious that he might have had something to do with the failed alert. A political book can be something great, although I will say it does feel like the commentary feels a little heavy handed this issue. The villains include a trio of comic redneck survivalist parodies clad in red, white, and blue, and come off as overtly cartoonish. But there’s an intriguing mystery, a fun Supergirl cameo, and a good balance of action and dialogue. This issue feels more like it’s making use of the Batgirl of Burnside characters than the book has in a while, and Larson’s Batgirl is a good combo of the youthful Burnside version with the more skilled Simone version.

Batgirl #19 page 3
The hipster donut shop sent actors to scare the owners of the neighborhood donut shop. Not smart. Image copyright DC Comics

Corrina: I keep wanting Batgirl to be something it’s not.

Primarily, I’ve never gotten used to the de-aged Barbara Gordon. Never. I first read Barbara Gordon in the 1970s when she was a Congresswoman. Birds of Prey, original recipe, is one of my favorite comics ever. This Batgirl of Burnside version, with Barbara at college age, with a more humorous slant, I’ve not liked it from the beginning. I’ve tried to give it a chance but…it’s not working for me. Yes, on this subject, I’m that cranky old reader. I don’t think I will ever not miss Oracle.

However, as I read this issue back to back with the Scooby-Doo Team-Up this week that features the Birds of Prey, I realized that Batgirl of Burnside, especially Larson’s run, is an all-ages introduction to Barbara Gordon, one that addresses topical issues such as the war on science, the problems of gentrifications, and the responsibilities of those who create social media software. It is an excellent series viewed from that angle and this is one of the better issues in Larson’s run.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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