The “Summer of Lies” concludes this week with the lies in question falling thick and fast. The costumed folk of Gotham, and those in every town, live a life of lies. Their dual identities means that they live a life estranged from those that they care about and who care them. True some characters as well suited to this, Batman for example. Others however are almost defined by their relationships. Batgirl fall squarely in the latter camp.
This arc has done well to explore what friendship means to both Barbara and her bat inspired alter ego, whether that be a fellow nerd or a fellow fan of spandex. Ever since the New 52, Babs has been stuck, being bounced through one personal attack after another. This is one of the strengths of the character; in many ways the book is actually more about Babs than Batgirl, as if the line between the two is less solid than it is for other heroes. This may be the fact she is driven by her sense of right and wrong, not having a true mentor or a dark vengeance trip.
This book has had some harsh critics, mainly for the pace of some of the arcs. Here, Hope Larson seems to have gotten the point, with a relatively quick arc that has built to this strong finale issue. Of course, it has helped that we get to see young Batgirl and Robin interact, which is always fun. Larson certainly has her finger on the pulse of this relationship. In this arc we have seen the start of their attraction, see it play out and of course the current awkwardness brought on by a kiss and a lie of omission from Dick regarding who he is actually seeing. With lies being the main course, it falls to the Mad Hatter to bring some home truths to bear, with some startling consequences. Larson’s dialogue has worked well throughout this arc, giving the attraction between the two heroes some much need gravitas., which is probably more important to new fans, than older fans, but regardless it’s well done.
Chris Wildgoose provides the pencils for the book, keeping the styling consistent from previous issues. The UK based artist has worked had to gain fans on this book. It seems that everyone, me included, can get focussed on what Batgirl should be, rather than what she is. This is probably due to number of changes Babs has gone through since New 52, leading into Rebirth. Wildgoose shows the dynamic camera styles which helps move the action along at a fair clip. There is still an awkward angular style on show, which sort of fits. But by know shouldn’t Batgirl and especially Nightwing be more competent? On a side note, am I the only one that prefers the “old” Batgirl costume on show through the recap of her early adventures with Robin to the purple jacket and trouser suit? Wildgoose is joined by a couple of inkers in Jose Marzan and Andy Owens. Both do a solid job, trying to demonstrate some cohesion, although it looks like Owens’ inks are slightly heavier. Mat Lopes supplies the colors, effectively using a traditional washed out look for the scenes from the past. Finally, the cover by Dan Mora is great, with some eye catching details.
Unfortunately, this book still sits below where loads of fans would like to see. After setting the standard for now, its about time for Larson and Wildgoose to raise the ante and deliver stories that can have an impact. This may be wishful thinking from me as DC may be happy with Batgirl’s place as a marketing tool, rather than a character in her own right. Until then, despite the efforts of all involved, Batgirl’s fans may feel a little disenfranchised.
Writing – 3.5 Stars
Art – 3.5 Stars
Colors – 3.5 Stars
Written by; Hope Larson
Art by; Chris Wildgoose with Jose Marzon & Andy Owens
Colors by; Mat Lopes
Cover by Dan Mora
Published by; DC Comics