Review: BATGIRL #39

Batgirl_39

BATGIRL #39
Written by Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher
Art by Babs Tarr, Cameron Stewart, and Maris Wicks
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: February 18, 2015

The borough of Burnside has turned against Batgirl and it’s up to the Birds of Prey to figure out the mystery behind the Batgirl impersonator. Only problem is: Dinah is still not speaking to Babs. And Babs is starting to suspect there IS no impersonator. Has she been the culprit all along?

With the all-new Batgirl’s premier arc closing in on its finish, Stewart and Fletcher are making one thing clear: something isn’t right with Barbara. Over the course of five issues we’ve seen everyone progressively come to that conclusion, and now we get the same from the dominoed daredoll herself. Is it as dramatic as some villain has stolen a piece of her brain? Well…

No, it isn’t. Probably not. I think. But what’s clear is for all the critics who shouted from the rooftops that Barbara wasn’t acting like Barbara… well, yeah. That’s clearly the point.

And who can’t relate to what she’s been going through? When Babs tells her thesis assistant (and damn fine fashionista) Nadimah she thought things would be different in Burnside than they were in Gotham proper, it’s hard not to remember what it’s like to try making a fresh start and realizing old you came along in the moving van. But the thing is, old Babs is pretty darn great. And that’s the core of what’s been separating our hero from her blonde best friend. And understandably so.

Seeing how the writers begin resolving that disagreement is more reassuring of what it means to be best friends than if they had just ignored the (short) history they walked into with Batgirl #35. Because honestly? The best of friends feel slights and pain that much more than just acquaintances, and having Dinah genuinely torn about her own feelings in this issue is precisely how a best friend would act. These women aren’t two-dimensional saints who forgive and forget with a brush of the hand while kicking ass on the streets. They are complex characters with a real friendship that we are now getting to see stitched back together.

With that process at the forefront (and a bit of less dynamic, although necessary, plot movement), Tarr is given a fairly static issue to work out. Nevertheless, the issue feels super-fluid, exciting in the fighting bits, and compelling in the quieter moments. The range of Batgirl’s facial expressions, in and out of costume, are absolutely fantastic, and really highlight the complexity of the artist’s presumed-simplistic style. We can feel how tired Babs is, how defeated, and what the return of Dinah’s affection does to instantly turn that around.

And Maris Wicks could easily be the covert cannon of the team, moving the action from scene to scene with her palette changes, but ensuring that the entire issue feels cohesive and singular in its vision. It’s been so nice to see this kind of consistency in the run to date, and hope that the entire creative team can stick together on the book for the foreseeable future. Their cohesiveness is a whole stronger than its parts.

A moving and revelatory chapter that is moving us fast and furious toward a first arc conclusion next month — not to mention the arrival of Black Canary #1 in June — Batgirl #39 is the issue that starts tying up all the loose ends and bringing all the characters and their suspicions onto the same page at last. The creative team is running on all cylinders and it shows. Here’s hoping we have a long line of Batgirl issues to look forward to from all of them.

The Verdict: 9.5/10

 

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