Batgirl #50 – Cecil Castellucci, Writer; Emanuela Lupacchino, Penciller; Wade Von Grawbadger, Mick Gray, Scott Hanna, Inkers; Marguerite Sauvage, Aneke, Backup Artists; Jordie Bellaire, Trish Muvihill, Colorists
Ray – 6/10
Ray: It’s the last issue of Cecil Castellucci’s run, and potentially the end of Barbara Gordon’s time as Batgirl if rumors are to be believed. So for the finale, we get an extra-sized issue that tries to do a lot but is bogged down by many of the problems of the run as a whole. Following the death of James Gordon Jr last issue, Barbara and Jim are more at odds than ever, with Jim blaming Batgirl for the tragedy and going full-on into anti-vigilante beliefs similar to those espoused by Officer Nanako. Could this be setting him up to be an antagonist to Batman and his network in coming months? I hope not, but it’s clear this is wreaking havoc on Barbara’s relationship with her father.
This issue tries to do a lot, and much of the story is relevant to current events. In the aftermath of Joker War, Gotham is consumed by protests and riots, and Congresswoman Alejo has found herself not radical enough for her constituents. A brief cameo by Ryan Wilder as a cynical teenager seems like an Easter egg more than anything, but I’m sure more will be heard from the character if the new Batwoman is a hit. The story seems to be moving Barbara in a more socially conscious direction, and a segment with her pushing Batman to contribute more directly was good. But too much of the issue was devoted to Jason Bard, and her interactions with Dick seemed very off. So she’ll forgive Jason for framing her father, but holds a grudge against Dick for attacking her while he was brainwashed? Odd.
The backups were stronger than the main series, starting with a spotlight drawn by Marguerite Sauvage. This showed how Barbara stretches herself thin balancing her work with other heroes while investigating her own cases. As a mystery involving hacking and voter fraud threatens Burnside, she struggles to find time for investigating it amid helping out Flash and Green Lantern. This story elevates her to the cross-DC heroine she was as Oracle, and seems like it could be a foundation for her future in the DCU.
The final backup, with art by Aneke, is a lighthearted change of pace as Barbara plays Dungeons and Dragons with Spoiler, Orphan, Black Canary, and Huntress. It’s a Birds of Prey reunion with some fun visuals and the concept is clever, although Cassandra Cain seemed a bit out of character. Too wordy, even compared to some of the other characters. Much like the previous backup, it seemed to emphasize how strong Barbara was as Oracle. Overall, the backups made me hopeful for Barbara’s future and the main story made me less confident in her present.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.