Review – Batgirl #49: Death of the Batgirls

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Batgirl #49 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Batgirl #49 – Cecil Castellucci, Writer; Robbi Rodriguez, Artist; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist

Ray – 4/10

Ray: As Batgirl nears the end of its run, this thoroughly bleak final arc focuses on the Gordon family’s twisted dynamics. Her spinal implant reinstalled, Barbara has a new mystery to solve – the murder of Batgirl. A young woman shows up dead, wearing a Batgirl costume, and the city mourns – and only Barbara knows it’s not the genuine article. Soon others show up dead, and it becomes clear that a serial killer obsessed with Batgirl is targeting them. Both Jim and James Jr. try to work with Barbara as she investigates, but she’s keeping them both at arm’s length. It soon turns out that James knows more than he’s letting on about the case, and he claims he’s only trying to investigate on his own to protect his sister. As we know, though, there’s probably more to the story than this. And that’s kind of disappointing – It looked like James was making progress in The Batman Who Laughs, but this issue portrays something very different.

Investigations. Via DC Comics.

The problem is, James Jr.’s story has played out over almost ten years, and aside from Scott Snyder’s work it feels like the character is moving in circles. The addition of his split personality this issue comes out of nowhere and just seems like another way to have him revert back to villainy. Much of this issue is a summary of the rest of the run, setting up Barbara’s connections to characters like Jason Bard, before the final showdown with James Jr. The final scene, which seemingly dispatches James Jr. for good, is very similar to the last time he “died” in Gail Simone’s run before his stint with the Suicide Squad, and it seems to only exist to set up a deeper rift between Batgirl and Jim. Maybe to set up Barbara’s retirement from Batgirl? With only one issue to go before the end of the run, it feels like a summary of the entire Babsgirl run – a few interesting ideas, but critically flawed and a less-than-ideal use of a great character.

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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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