Review – Batgirl #36: The Fall of Burnside?

Batgirl #36 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Batgirl #36 – Mairghread Scott, Writer; Paul Pelletier, Penciller; Norm Rapmund, Inker; Hi-Fi, Colorist

Ratings:

Ray – 7/10

Corrina: Batgirl Reset

Ray: Mairghread Scott has delivered one of the best runs on Batgirl in recent memory, but the final arc didn’t live up to that standard for me because of the rushed nature of the story and the way it falls into one of my least favorite tropes in superhero comics – every creative team having to reset the character to zero so the next writer can have a clean slate. Given the events of Batgirl #36, Cecil Castellucci doesn’t seem likely to follow up on much of Babs’ character growth here and instead forge her own direction – a similar problem that happens to Spider-Man frequently. The first part of the series is the strongest, as Barbara finds herself in a deathtrap along with dozens of Gotham’s rich and corrupt. The villains, the revamped Terrible Trio, have been exposed as the masterminds behind Burnside’s crime problem but these masked goons were introduced to the story in a hurry and aren’t given much development.

The escape segment as the building burns and Babs has to try to get her enemies out alive is strong, and it gives the Trio a little more characterization – Vulture is irredeemably evil, Fox is opportunistic and only cares about himself, and Shark is a brute but may have something more human in him than the rest. He makes a sacrifice that essentially saves Barbara and gives her a new perspective – just in time to discover that her civilian life has been blown up by shady investors and Alysia had to force her out of her own company in order to save it from being destroyed. Barbara’s reaction about it feeling like time to move on feels meta, as it’s clear the Burnside era is officially over. The problem is, it doesn’t feel like much is replacing it – Babs is now in a crappy apartment with a grumpy landlord and is flat broke. Even the tension between her and Jim seems mostly resolved in a hurry. A disappointing end to a great run.

Babs up against the wall. Via DC Comics.

Corrina: I have loved Scott’s characterization of Babs, which seemed to delve back into the strengths of her pre-Crisis portrayal. Indeed, there are echoes of the Pre-Crisis era in her work for the liberal Congressional candidate and in Jason Bard’s presence in the title, as well as the strong presence of Jim Gordon, still unaware of his daughter’s secret identity. (That part, I didn’t buy that much, given Babs’ new mask hides very little.)

That characterization comes through well in the opening segment as Babs attempts to rescue everyone, even criminals, from the fire. Pelletier and the rest of the art team do a tremendous job conveying the scorching heat of the fire, Babs’ desperation to save herself and everyone else, and that last segment when Shark makes a final decision.

But given the way all the problems of this run are tied up–Babs is out of her company, as predicted; she’s moving again, and Burnside is definitely out–it feels like this run was truncated. On the other hand, as someone who appreciated that others loved the BabsBurnside era but didn’t love the setup myself, I am a bit curious at this reset to the classic Babs in Gotham.

However, given how frustrated I’ve been at Castellucci’s Female Furies, I’m a little bit worried too.

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

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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