Batgirl #35 – Marighread Scott, Writer; Paul Pelletier, Penciller; Norm Rapmund, Jose Marzan Jr, Inkers; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: It’s a SHARK! (Or is it?)
Ray: Writer Mairghread Scott is leaving after next issue, paving the way for Cecil Castellucci to take over, and I wish she had gone out on a stronger antagonist in Batgirl #35. The Terrible Trio are intriguing side-villains who are most famous for their roles in the animated series, but they come off here as generic copies of the Court of Owls – an evil secret society running a “den of sin” celebrating criminal activities and sadism. They also don’t get along, bickering constantly, which Barbara sets out to exploit as she finds herself suspended in a tank designed to drown her. As Fox puts on a show to the spectators, Barbara successfully baits the villains against each other and gets the time she needs to release herself – but it may be out of the frying pan and into the fire, as the muscle of the group, Shark, injects himself with Venom and becomes a massive hulk that smashes up the room and causes a raging fire.
Barbara fighting her way out of the evil club is fun, but a pretty generic hero escape. A subplot involving Jason Bard trying to save Barbara’s goods after an impromptu eviction is amusing, but the other plot – involving fan-favorite character Alysia Yeoh – doesn’t really work for me. This fits perfectly with what happens to Spider-Man at the end of every major run, as the creators seem determined to tear his life down to make it a clean sweep for the new creative team. Alysia is confronted by a group of sinister investors, revealing that they know about Barbara’s collaboration with Poison Ivy and demanding that Alysia partner with them to vote Barbara out of the company and strip her of all her assets from it, or they’ll destroy the company. We know Alysia will vote yes to save the company, which means one of the more interesting elements of the character over the last few years will be gone. Just a disappointing and unnecessary twist.
Corrina: Scott’s run has always had an old-school vibe for me and the death trap in front of all the supervillains fits that vibe. It seemed one part threatening, one part absurd, and yet it worked.
Pelletier has long been an underrated artist and he does his usual fine job this issue, especially in the scenes as Babs escapes the deathtrap. But I also like the panels where Alysia talks to those who want to take over Gordon Clean Energy. The viewscreens are looming above her, menacing, making her look small, adding to the impression that she feels powerless.
But the plot does feel, as Ray said, a way to create a clean exit for Babs from her own company and, perhaps, from the Burnside years, especially given how many of the supporting characters from that run have vanished. I’m not sure if that’s Scott or DC editorial and I’m not tremendously sad to see the aspect go–I always thought the “Batgirl of Burnside” should have been Steph, not Babs.
But I wish there was a way to keep the supporting characters, as one of the problems of Batgirl since the new 52 reboot has been the shifting landscape behind the main character, from the original “Babs recovers from external and mental trauma” to the “Batgirl of Burnside,” to the globe-trotting Batgirl, and this one, which brought her back to Gotham proper and her father again.
What’s next? A more firmly Gotham-entrenched Babs, I believe, especially given the setup with a villainous Oracle that seems to be coming. Though I still maintain the best Babs is Birds-of-Prey-Oracle-Years Babs.
Note: the only failure of Scott’s run has been Jason Bard. I still have no interest in him.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.