Picking up right where the last episode ended with the Mad Hatter freaking out about the Red Queen, Batgirl #15, titled “Summer of Lies Part Two,” makes it clear that while this issue may feature a few villains, the main focus is on the relationship between Batgirl and Nightwing. We all knew it was coming after Nightwing revealed that he broke up with his girlfriend in the previous issue, but this has enough material that it can stand alone in its exploration of their interactions. If you are looking for a heartwarming story that isn’t quite a romance, this is perfect for you.
One criticism of Hope Larson’s writing is that I am still unsure why the Red Queen is doing what she is doing or how, but it feels like that is not the main focus of the storyline. This is supported by Dan Mora’s gorgeous yet creepy cover featuring Batgirl and Nightwing kissing. Covers often show action such as the title superhero kicking some bad guy butt, and this graceful kiss serves as a nice change of pace when it comes to the expectations it sets up for the issue. Speaking of, this is a long time ship that has been largely pushed aside in the newer runs. This issue brings it back big time while at the same time giving the reader the feeling of a classic team-up story. Oddly enough, instead of the will they/won’t they holding the story back, it feels like an authentic and genuine part of their relationship. I enjoy the way that this issue makes it clear that there are simply bigger matters at hand. One of my favorite lines was the simple, “We were both not-thinking it.” It says so much about who they are and why they have the relationship they do. I wasn’t necessarily a shipper before, but this issue convinces me that they would work well together if they even were in a position where it was feasible. That kind of perception shift is a sign of good writing. Additionally, it is charmingly funny at points! Nightwing’s jab of “We’ve got enough knights in this town already” and the time shift starting with “Meanwhile – – That is to say, years ago…” perfectly captures the youthful side of these characters.
Artistically speaking, Chris Wildgoose and Jose Marzan Jr. have a real knack for the action pose. While not necessarily dynamic, it practically breathes cool when they are in the current timeline. This serves as a strong counterpoint to the flashbacks. Some of this is Mat Lopes’ Colors, but there is something to be said for how recognizable the characters are and how awkward the body language they have is at this point. Even without reading the words, one can tell that they were still figuring out how to work together along with how to do the job in the first place. I also really enjoyed how much emotion they were able to pull out of the characters. They make a really big mistake that Nightwing blames himself for and the depth and range of emotions they have as they sort through the aftermath is clearly seen and understandable. The letter choices that Devon Bennett makes are solid throughout and I love the little touches like her bat symbol in the narration box and the way it is colored purple thereby keeping her in the panel even when she is not there physically.
This may not be everybody’s cup of tea as it is not quite a superhero action story, nor is it a romance, but I think it rides the line between the two genres very well. More importantly, it is well written and illustrated. Obviously, any shippers of the two will want to pick up this issue as well as fans of either party. It might even make a shipper out of you like it did me. Four Stars!
(W) Hope Larson (A) Chris Wildgoose (CA) Dan Mora