Batgirl #42 – Cecil Castellucci, Writer; Carmine Di Giandomenico, Artist; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Ray: After a long buildup, the final showdown in Batgirl #42 between Batgirl and Oracle delivers in a tense issue-long battle that upends how Batgirl fights evil. One of my biggest problems with this run and the previous ones is that ever since Babs became Batgirl again, she’s rarely gotten to come off as the kind of genius she was when she was working as Oracle. Batgirl #42 taps into that intelligence, but also shows how it can be her undoing. Her genius is predictable, almost mechanical at times, and that allows the Oracle machine to study her patterns and stay one step ahead of her – especially with the forced help of the Terrible Trio and Babs’ kidnapped best friend Frankie.
So to stop Oracle before it can take over and destroy Burnside, Babs decides to change up her strategy and start doing exactly the opposite of what she normally does. Barbara isn’t a natural for unpredictable crimefighting, which makes this issue an intriguing change of pace.
Unfortunately, I don’t think the things surrounding Babs are as interesting here as she is. Oracle is mostly a blank slate of an enemy, an angry AI who wants revenge for being sealed up for so long. It’s a very similar storyarc to the villain’s arc in Steven Universe: The Movie, but that one gave the character much more pathos.
Here Oracle is just filled with rage. While Frankie being back is welcome, I still feel iffy about Jason Bard’s role in the story. He’s switching alliances constantly, hates Batgirl but loves Barbara, and his character development this issue comes rather quickly. The end of the issue finally confirms a romance between Babs and Bard, which falls flat for me given the likely age gap and his past actions towards her family. Castellucci’s run is giving me a version of Babs I’m interested in and one that’s improved over this arc, but I am ready to move on to a different storyline for the character.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.