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So this issue will wrap up Barbara’s travails
through Asia, and it seems like it won’t be soon enough for many people. I
could have used a few more issues, though, there’s lots of great Asian food
that didn’t get explored as Babs turned over Teacher’s evil academic plan in
her mind. Kimchi, soup dumplings, delicious bamboo shoots...I feel like Babs
could have eaten more. And it’s not all street food, you know! There are places
to sit down. I assume, at least. Come to think of it, maybe I should be taking
direction from someone familiar with the place, rather than assert my own
assumptions. I don’t even know if bamboo shoots are actually a thing in Asia, I
just love ‘em at Szchezuan restaurants. Ah well, there’s me Amerisplaining
again. Let me bow out of this ungracefully and move on to my review of Batgirl
I’ve been sitting here for the better part of
six hours, wondering how I am going to pad this review so it looks like
something substantive. This is the end of the “Beyond Burnside” arc, which is
something many of us have been looking forward to because this confused
nonsense in Asia has about run its course. So here we are, Batgirl faces off
against a drug-infused Teacher, now a super martial artist because she took the
secret drug that makes people take tests better. Confused yet? You should be.
The two of them fight for a while, the Teacher grabs the formula that can be
used to make more smart drugs, and jumps out of the window, taunting Barbara to
Barbara finds herself in some kind of squalid
dormitory, where Teacher has hidden herself so she can tell Barbara about her
crummy childhood from her hidden position in the shadows. Babs finds some of
Teacher’s hair on the floor, indicating that she is suffering from at least one
side effect of the smart drug, the others being a propensity to cook up
half-baked schemes, and to talk too much while in hand-to-hand combat. Teacher
still gets the drop on Barbara, and knocks her into Dreamland.
There, Babs sees a young Fruit Bat and Kai,
who, though a series of cockamamie suggestions and implications, tell Babs that
the only way she can learn the “future sight” Fruit Bat used in the first issue
is to turn off her eidetic memory. Luckily, he has such a switch at the base of
her skull, so when she wakes up in the dorm, she chases down the escapting
Teacher, who is still nearby. Her pristine memory somehow nullified, Babs is
able to whup Teacher’s behind and destroy it, because you know, it was only the
singularly most important thing in this story arc.
To wrap up, Babs installs Fruit Bat as the new
Teacher for the Last Chance Cram School, she threatens Kai as Batgirl again for
good measure, and then gets a call from Frankie in Burnside, where she’ll be
headed next issue. What a load of crap. I never felt the stakes in this story,
the whole thing seemed like Barbara was wandering around Asia, eating local
food, and kind of stumbled into this lame conspiracy to use smart drugs in order
to pass a standardized test. I had high hopes in the beginning, but the arc got
worse and worse, until this point when I am just glad to see it over. I’ve
loved the art throughout the series, and this issue is no exception to that.
But the story seemed like it was written while walking up a flight of stairs.
The "Beyond Burnside" arc comes to a close, and I can't say I will miss it. What looked like a promising story with new locales and traditions turned into a bizarre and badly-planned conspiracy to cheat on a country-wide standardized test, and this last issue that was supposed to tie up all the loose ends was very flat and underwhelming. The relationship between Babs and Kai never came across as anything meaningful to me, and Barbara's unlikely cluelessness is boring by now. If I want to read stories about someone who doesn't know what the hell they're doing, I'd check out the police reports filed against me.