Written by: Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher
Art by: Eleonora Carlini, Moritat, Serge LaPointe and Steve Wands
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: January 20, 2016
I can't say that I've been a huge fan of Batgirl since Stewart and Fletcher took over, but I haven't been a big detractor either. That's the problem...I really have no emotions either way and that sucks. This is Batgirl for Christ's sake and I want to love it! I keep waiting for something to hit me, but each month I'm left waiting some more. I think the main reason is that Barbara hasn't faced a threatening villain in quite some time. I mean, I loved Velvet Tiger's fashion sense, but as a bad gal, she was H-list at best. Before her, I was excited to see Livewire enter the story, but she was gone before we knew it. So, does this new arc's villain have what it takes to snap me out of my doldrums? Let's find out...
The issue starts with Batgirl and Spoiler hanging out the rooftop of Luke Fox's fancy apartment and after Babs assures Stephanie she's safe, she introduces her friend to us all. It's not a huge shock that it's Harper Row, but that doesn't make it any less awesome. If you read Batman Eternal way back, you know this is not their first meeting, but for some reason, Batgirl doesn't remember it. It's all part of this "I think I'm losing my mind this time..." storyline and while I'm still undecided on it, I loved this clever way to push it forward.
I love Harper and have been yelling for her, Spoiler and Batgirl to be in a new Birds of Prey book, so it was a fanboy's dream come true to see them here together. However, one thing bothered me a little. We are told that this takes place before Batman and Robin Eternal, but after Batman "died". This is a point in time when Harper was mad at the world for getting robbed of the chance to train with Batman. She doesn't show it here and I think that being around Batgirl would lead to at least a couple of Batman questions. I know it's a nitpick so I'll just go back to thinking the three of them are awesome together. The scene ends with Barbara flying( yes...flying) off the rooftop on her motorcycle much to the delight of the other gals.
The next day she meets up with her dad for a bite to eat and some detective work. She thinks someone in the GCPD is messing with her and used her data to arrest (not very) innocent people last issue, but that's not nearly the most interesting thing here. What I liked was seeing Jim Gordon talk about his problems with Mr. Bloom, Barbara worrying about the nightmares she's been having and mention of a Greg whose been crashing on Barbara's couch. The Gordon/Bloom bit solves a little problem I've had with this book. Batgirl always seems to be happening just outside the rest of the DCU and this puts it square in the middle where it should be. The nightmare bit was great as a little foreshadowing of what is to come and Greg is funny because he's a creeper. We see why after Jim warns his daughter not to mess with the police.
Back at her apartment, this Greg and Frankie are fighting because she caught him in Barbara's undies drawer. Really? I know that he has an excuse and Barbara backs him up, but this scene just felt like a bad attempt at humor. It looks like Greg may be more important to the story then he seems so it's a shame that he debuts as a pantie raider!
Back to the problem at hand, the girls come up with an Ocean's Eleven (not Twelve!) plan to infiltrate the GCPD. Barbara and Steph disguise themselves as new recruits while Harper and Frankie do their tech things. I wish someone told Stephanie that police officers rarely go around with purple backpacks, but nobody seems to notice anyway.
Once inside they are hit on by the slimiest of slime balls, meet a pumped up Vicki and find out that the person who tipped off the police was...Barbara. But she doesn't remember doing that! Hmmmm.
They don't have a lot of time to figure things out as the police are alerted to their presence and the whole station goes on lock down.
The girls make a break for it and are only saved by Vicki who is actually the big, bad, Corporal Punishment. After a quick fight with the eye patch wearing monstrosity and a big reason not to use nanotech muscle replacements, the girls say goodbye and Barbara heads off to see Luke. As if we haven't had enough story lines going on, Quadir interrupts them with Barbara's schematic she remembered from Gladius. He tweaked it a bit and after saying it will change the world, mentions that he hopes Barbara did the math right. What the hell does that mean? She just remembered the schematic...shouldn't he have done the math when he tweaked it or at least checked the damn math himself?!?!?
It's becomes very obvious that all of this is ridiculous because this schematic is only there to put further doubt in Barbara's mind that she is unsure of her usually rock solid memory and may be going looney tunes. However, the issue ends with a glimpse of what is really going on including some hocus pocus of a scene we just saw.
I'll admit it, I am intrigued by the villain and what is revealed at the end, but it still isn't enough. Characters and events just seem to happen in this book and when they do, they are always the most convenient thing to push the story forward. Harper showing up, Corporal Punishment being at the GCPD precinct, the Gladius schematic...all of them just felt forced into the issue.
Babs Tarr is not on art this month and while both Eleonora Carlini and Moritat try to ape her style to keep the book consistent, I actually prefer either to the original. I especially liked Carlini's work here...her Harper may be the best I've seen and I loved the look of Barbara and Jim Gordon. I'd like to see her do an entire issue her self sometime soon.
Bits and Pieces:
While this issue was fun enough, too many things threw me off and it all felt like a forced way to continue the story. This may be the villain I've been waiting for to elevate this book, but we will have to wait and see. While I liked Carlini and Moritat's art, this issue was still just mediocre.