Batgirls 2022 Annual #1 – Becky Cloonan/Michael W. Conrad, Writers; Robbi Rodriguez, Artist; Rico Renzi, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: After a year of stories, the Batgirls occasionally feel like second fiddles in their own book—with several complex villainous conspiracies and Barbara Gordon occasionally pulling focus as the third Batgirl. In some ways, this annual feels like it’s attempting to refocus the book on Cass and Steph—and then it takes a strange and wacky turn into left field and throws the entire series for a loop. When the issue kicks off, Barbara is spending time with Alysia and making plans to move back to the Clock Tower—leaving the apartment to Cass and Steph on their own. As Cass struggles to move on from Shiva’s legacy and Steph decides she’s not really ready for a relationship with Kyle, the two get pulled into a mystery involving a string of break-ins, rescue a cat, and bond a little more over their common challenges. The issue puts a lot of focus on how, while the two are very close, they don’t always understand each other fully.
And then they wake up the next morning in each others’ bodies. This was revealed in solicits, and a classic body-swap plotline is always welcome. Of course, this one is a little less challenging than some, given their similar age and gender, but watching the two of them attempt to fight crime as each other is very funny. As the break-ins turn into a murder mystery and Barbara struggles to investigate the source of the body-swapping phenomenon, the stakes escalate—until the return of two familiar faces puts both the girls in serious jeopardy. This is just the first part of a much larger storyline, but based on this issue I have to say I think this series is on the right track. Both Cass and Steph get some focus and narration this issue, showing the writers have a good handle on them. Barbara is slipping more into the mentor role, where she’s well-suited. Most of all, this issue is just fun, with some clever twists on classic tropes. I’m hoping for more of this tone going forward.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.