Review – Batgirl #47: Payback Time

Comic Books DC This Week
Batgirl #47 cover, via DC Comics.

Batgirl #47 – Cecil Castellucci, Writer; Robbi Rodriguez, Artist; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist

Ray – 5/10

Ray: One of the biggest problems with bringing Barbara Gordon back as Batgirl is that DC has never been able to leave behind the most traumatic part of her story—the Joker’s brutal attack in The Killing Joke. By having it in her past but either erasing or minimizing her time as Oracle (what, was it a summer project?), it’s just left that story as a trauma that gets rehashed constantly without serving as a transition story for her. But it’s rarely as on-display or intimate as in this issue, with guest art by Spider-Gwen co-creator Robbi Rodriguez (making a rare stop-over at DC, at a bad time for his reputation). After a nice chat with new boyfriend Jason Bard, Babs comes home to find Joker lurking in her home for a tie-in with Joker War. We’ve seen her confront her attacker many times before, but rarely in as intimate a setting as this one—and it leads to a deeply uncomfortable issue.

Flashbacks to the original story are thankfully fairly minimal, but this is twenty pages of Barbara Gordon being put through absolute hell. Joker’s managed to hack her implant, essentially turning her into a living puppet that he can manipulate when she’s not crawling on the floor, unable to move her legs. Part of the issue involves him trying to force her into giving up the secrets of the Batcave, but too often it just descends into him berating and gaslighting her. By the end of the issue, it devolves into a violent showdown that involves self-mutilation and the promise of a major status quo change that is unlikely to stick—unless there isn’t a relaunch of this series following the conclusion of the series with #50. The problem is that this is a story we’ve seen before, and the way it’s presented in this issue is deeply uncomfortable. And the ongoing subplot about Barbara’s role in Jason being disabled—coming to a head soon—isn’t holding my interest.

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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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