Batgirl #24 – Shawn Aldridge, Writer; Scott Godlewski, Artist; John Rauch, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Enjoyable Single-Issue Story
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: Hope Larson has wrapped her run on Batgirl to head off to creator-owned work, and next up is an anniversary jam issue followed by a Mairghread Scott run (that may just be bringing back the Barbara Gordon Oracle in some form), but before that, we’ve got this solid done-in-one issue by indie writer Shawn Aldridge and frequent DC talent Scott Godlewski. Despite being only one issue, there’s a lot going on in this issue and a surprising number of twists – maybe a few too many, to the point of the issue being half over and the reader still having no real idea where it’s going, leading to the ending feeling a bit rushed. The issue opens with Batgirl taking on some low-level criminals – bearded hipster drug dealers who are distributing study aid drugs that have nasty side effects. After a bike chase, Barbara gets a call from her high school friend Melissa who is looking for help for a mutual friend of theirs, Jacob Cesaro, who is mixed up with some nasty gangs and wound up in the hospital recently.
This sends Barbara down the rabbit hole, as she thinks back to her friendship with Jacob, who was also the child of a cop like her – until her father was killed, and he went down a bad path. She eventually tracks him down to a coding lab where he’s working under the supervision of a particularly nasty band of goons. After confronting him, she finds out that he’s working for Two-Face as his tech guy, helping him pull off a series of bombings that will give half of Gotham a nasty scar. Very on brand for Two-Face, but something feels off here, and sure enough, Jacob isn’t really telling the whole truth either. What emerges is an overly elaborate plot of revenge and the story of a decent kid who went too far into his own rage to be saved. There’s a good balance of sympathy for the villain with awareness of the stakes, and this issue wouldn’t have been nearly as good if it wasn’t for Aldridge’s take on Babs’ inner voice and strong dialogue. Maybe this would have been a bit better as a two-parter, but it’s still a thoroughly enjoyable done-in-one.
Corrina: What speaks to the quality of this single issue story is how skillfully Aldridge handles Barbara Gordon. Her internal monologue, yes, but also her systematic way of investigating Jacob’s disappearance, her willingness to continue to gather facts rather than being stuck in one mindset, her warmth in her breakfast with her friend, and her worry for Jacob.
One issue, and it’s clear Aldridge “gets” Babs. Not always the case with a fill-in. The story is quite good, even if it had one too many twists and turns, and my only complaint is that Two-Face, one of my favorite Batman villains, is basically a side issue.
I did like that Barbara realized that not everyone can and wants to be saved–this is Gotham, after all–but that doesn’t deter her from trying.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.