COMIC REVIEW: Batgirl #29


batgirlBarbara Gordon has been trying to lay low as Batgirl, and who could blame her? Her last adventure saw her boyfriend wounded and made her father, Commissioner James Gordon, into a target for a violent vigilante.  Worse yet, Batgirl is now on the Commissioner’s personal hit-list!  But Babs couldn’t sit idle when she was approached by former Court of Owls’ assassin Strix (now reformed and a member of the Birds of Prey) for help on a kidnapping case.

The case involves a kidnapped girl with a blood disease that has left her mute – a condition that hits the equally mute Strix close to home.  Barbara knew she was going to have a hard time reigning in Strix’s more violent tendencies, but even she couldn’t foresee what they’d be up against. The kidnapper is a delusional vampire hunter who believes Gotham’s vigilantes are the vampiric overlords secretly ruling Gotham.  To survive the night, Barbara will have to turn to her greatest enemy for information and place her trust in an unreliable ally… all for the sake of a little girl’s life!

More than any writer in recent memory, Gail Simone has captured the essence of Barbara Gordon’s character.  Barbara’s internal monologue reveals a woman who is smart and witty yet isn’t above admiring the cunning and relative hotness of a bad guy, even as he’s making her life difficult.  Simone weaves an intricate plot, having given Barbara multiple problems and multiple angles to work against.

The battle with the vampire hunter Silver is intriguing enough, with Silver set up as a comic parody of Batman.  Yet Simone moves past simple parody, adding true depth to Silver in this issue of Batgirl.  Barbara Gordon’s many internal conflicts also provide a good deal of enjoyable material. In this issue she must contend with both the desire to impress her father versus the realities of her life as a vigilante, plus her desire to avoid working with the ruthless Knightfall versus the greater good of saving a life with her help.

The artwork is equally impressive.  Fernando Pasarin’s pencils are clear and crisp, with each character having a distinctive look that makes them easy to tell apart without needing such precise details as differing hairstyles or skin tones.  Pasarin is also a gifted artistic choreographer, whose fight scenes flow cleanly and smoothly.  These pencils are backed by some amazing inks provided by Jonathan Glapion.  Glapion shrouds the page in shadows yet does not overwhelm the senses with darkness.  Indeed, there is much light and color in the finished art.  Colorist Blond differentiates the reality of the scene and Silver’s delusions with different color palettes – a stunning touch that may not be technically necessary given Pasarin’s storytelling talents, but is welcomed regardless.

The only real flaw with this issue is that it doesn’t quite stand on its own.  It can be read apart from Batgirl #28, as Simone provides more than enough exposition to describe the story so far, but readers will get so much more from this issue if they’ve read part one first.

Rating 5

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