Batgirl #34 – Mairghread Scott, Writer; Paul Pelletier, Penciller; Norm Rapmund, Inker; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Gotham Politics. Always Deadly
Ray: Mairghread Scott is ending her Batgirl run after this arc, and so far it seems like she’s going out on a high note as she reveals the masterminds behind the assassination plot on Congresswoman-elect Alejo. That’s right, Alejo won the election while Barbara was caught up in the family drama over Jim Jr’s release from prison and her father’s knowledge of this. But Barbara has no real time to process this shock – although she does tell Commissioner Gordon off when he tries to talk to her and makes clear she’s moving out of his apartment. But the Terrible Trio has their eyes on Batgirl, and Scott has no trouble elevating these animal-themed supervillains made famous by the 1990s animated series into legitimate threats. They now lead a secret masked cult of one-percenters who control Gotham’s crime scene and wipe out any threat to their power – and they make their presence known with a grotesque gift of a severed hand to Alejo’s office.
This sends Batgirl into detective mode, and she soon discovers that the hand is some sort of disturbing hybrid artifact containing elements taken from three victims who challenged the Trio’s power. Complicating Barbara’s mission is a group of activist investors disrupting her Clean Energy company, threatening to pull out unless she and Alysia both meet with them. The way they seemingly act quickly to sabotage her finances makes me wonder – are they in league with the Trio? The end of the issue finds Batgirl in a tight spot at the mercy of the trio, but it’s their reach into all elements of Barbara’s life that’s scarier here. They remind me a lot of the villains in earlier issues of Hope Larson’s run, where real forces like gentrification and police brutality were mutated into supervillains. I don’t think this is the best issue of the run, and the ongoing Jason Bard subplot doesn’t do much for me, but it’s an intriguing mix of elements setting up a strong finale.
Corrina: I somehow missed the Terrible Trio episodes of the animated series, so when they showed up, I had no recognition, which means I spent time trying to figure out if they were men wearing masks or mutated animals or something. The art is unclear on this aspect. (Like, I was kinda hoping this was King Shark. Who is totally a shark.)
Pondering the Trio threw me off my reading game for a bit. Also, I’m never big on “secret controllers of Gotham” subplots because, hello, how many secret societies can Gotham have? That’s not a knock on the creative team, only a personal pet peeve.
Otherwise, this run continues to feel like pre-Crisis Barbara Gordon (only a bit younger), establishing her independence and clashing with anyone who might challenge her or underestimate her, including the Trio and her dad. I liked the quick bit of detective work, as Babs’ intelligence is her greatest asset, but wasn’t so fond of the “can’t talk right now” plot element. Babs should know when something is urgent like that.
All in all, I have mixed feelings about the issue but, hopefully, the run will end as well as it started.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.