Review – Batgirl #43: Storybook Romance

Comic Books DC This Week
Batgirl #43
Batgirl #43 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Batgirl #43 – Cecil Castellucci, Writer; Cian Tormey, Artist; Chris Sotomayor, Colorist

Ratings:

Ray – 4/10

Ray: Coming off an odd extended arc where Batgirl faced off against the evil AI that used to be Oracle, Cecil Castellucci’s run takes an even stranger turn with an issue that brings in a lot of the elements of her writing from Female Furies that I was definitely not a fan of.

Oddly, this run is picking up on a lot of plot points from the previous Titans run, which Castellucci had nothing to do with. The main antagonist here is The Maker, in that book mostly a kindly old man who gained metahuman powers from dark matter and wound up generating a world based on his low-selling fantasy books. Here he’s a lunatic obsessed with the editor who helped him with his books and is constantly creating simulacrums of women in her image and then killing them when they displease him. Sure, they’re not actually alive, but it’s still a very creepy way to begin an issue of a comic featuring a young female lead who is very popular with younger fans.

Barbara gets involved through a complex plot that involves her finding a copy of one of the Unearth books and getting drawn into them as a way to deal with her trauma over the last arc. Plus, she’s trying to avoid dealing with Jason Bard, who REALLY wants a follow-up to the kiss they shared last issue. Barbara is following Unearth, Jason is following Barbara, and when the Maker’s obsession with his former editor spills out into the real world, things take a bizarre turn.

This issue is full of random heel-turns, with some characters acting one way one page and then being on a completely different moral alignment by the end of the issue. It seems to be making a comment on how obsessive love can be dangerous, but it doesn’t help that Barbara spends the whole issue fixated on choosing between two guys – one who framed her father for murder, the other who is still an amnesiac. After several runs that fleshed out Barbara’s new supporting cast and setting, this run and especially this arc feel like a big step back.

Batgirl #43
The wild hunt. Via DC Comics.

Corrina: Setting aside all the “fake” women who are killed off in the beginning for a joke in Batgirl #43, there’s also the stalker element. The Maker is after a woman he “loved and lost” to complete his fairy tale world. This woman, his former editor who never reciprocated those feelings, initially wants nothing to do with the Maker’s creepy self. But then the Maker offers to cure her cancer, so that interests her.

That decision made sense but a few pages later, she’s all in on defending the Maker, seemingly have forgetton about his past creepiness, obsession, and stalking.

It could be an intriguing premise, a stalker offering the only cure to one of his victims, but it would have to handled carefully, with subtlety, and there’s none of that here at all. (Or it’s a horror story, which it could also be here, except the victim is seemingly unconcerned now.)

And then there’s the weird focus on Babs’ romantic life, as she wonders about Jason versus Dick. This feels more like the thoughts of an everyday teenage girl than Babs, who has never dithered like this in any of her incarnations. Not to mention that, since his reappearance, nothing has been shown that makes me at all interested in this Jason Bard as a romantic interest for her.

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

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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