Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Batgirl #50 Review

Crowded House

Written by: Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart
Art by: Babs Tarr, Roger Robinson, John Timms, Eleonora Carlini, James Harvey, Cameron Stewart, Serge LaPointe, Lee Loughridge and Steve Wands
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: April 6, 2016

Weird Science has had a love/hate relationship with Team Batgirl and their Burnside relocation of Barbara Gordon.  Eric had been reviewing Batgirl since our site started and after an (imaginary?) feud and a whole lot of guff, handed the book over to me to review.  I won't defend or attack Eric here (that's for the podcast), but I can honestly say that I liked this book more than he did.  That being said, I still had one major problem that ran through almost all of the nine issues that I reviewed...the lack of a villain that could pose a major threat to Barbara.  That changed when Fugue showed up on Babs' couch and in her mind.  Sure, he might not be as flashy as some of the other baddies, but there is no doubt that he's a threat and it all comes to a head in this big finale that also is the end of the Team Batgirl run.  Yep, this is it and while we've had our (imaginary?) differences, they certainly left a mark on the character, her fans and comics in general.  I do think that they left Barbara in a better place and for that I thank them...and that is not imaginary.  Now, on with my review for Batgirl #50...

The issue begins at the end and it certainly looks like the end for Barbara.  It's only one page, but it raises the hype meter up to eleven and again, shows you that Fugue is not a villain to be taken lightly. I wouldn't say that it is a "fun" beginning, but that all changes very quickly and no matter what I say about this issue from here on out, just know that I really had a blast reading it.

The fun starts on the next page where we go back to the present and see that Fugue has assembled his own Legion of Doom.  I really wanted to come up with a witty name for them, but I'm just not that smart.  I will call them...the Legion of Swoon.  I told you I had nothing.  Oh well, just because I'm horrible at naming villainous groups doesn't mean this one isn't awesome.   Dagger Type, Velvet Tiger, Killer Moth, The Jawbreakers and Corporal Punishment.  It's like a dastardly love letter from Team Batgirl to the fans who read every issue of their run.  While I wish that Livewire was included, I had a huge smile on my face anyway.

Fugue has called this meeting to offer them all a him with his plan and get Batgirl's memories.  Of course, that's an offer they can't refuse (with a little help) and it's game on.  The problem for Fugue is that Batgirl's brains aren't as scrambled as he thinks and she pretty much knows everything he is planning.  There is a cool full page spread where both Batgirl and Fugue spell out the plan and while it's very cinematic the way it's presented, it is the start of my biggest problem I had with this issue...almost everything is resolved too quick and easy.

That starts with the fight scenes between the villains and Batgirl's friends.  They are fun, look fantastic, but if you blink, you might miss them.  It's a shame because I would have loved to see more action from them...especially Black Canary versus Velvet Tiger.

There is a cool setup for the fighting as Fugue has sent his minions across Burnside to set up relay pylons to amplify his mind control so that everyone in town goes to the Burnside Bridge.  I won't spoil what he plans to do once they are there, but it's bad and very personal to Barbara.

I'm sure the plan will seem very familiar to readers of Batman and Robin Eternal, but I liked theory.  It does lead to the cool fight scenes, but because of the ease that the good gals take out the bad, it never felt like a real threat.  That is, until Fugue surprises Batgirl with a Plan B that puts in motion what he was after all along.  It's one part revenge and two parts get rich quick and it all leads to a final confrontation between the two enemies.

I want to pause here so I can tell you how much I love Fugue.  Just a couple issues ago, the guy was sleeping on Barbara's couch and raiding her panties drawer and now he tells her , "I will destroy the very memory of you!"  Guess what?  I almost believed he was going to succeed.

I guess that's a spoiler, but I won't tell you how it all goes down.  I will tell you that it kind of came out of nowhere and while it started with a brief shout out to the legacy of her character, I can't fully explain how it all ended.  It was a bit of hocus pocus (weird science, even) that seemed forced in to give the reader a scare before the truth was revealed.  Unfortunately, this scene was a bit rushed and there was no real time for the scare to settle in and mean anything.  The issue ends with Frankie patching up Barbara so nobody else can mess with her brain going forward and a glimpse at the new hangout of Batgirl and Operator.

I said it earlier and I'll say it again, I had a blast reading this issue even with the problems I laid out.  I can't ignore the rushed nature of the narrative, but I am sure in my heart of hearts that every fan of this run will love this issue.  If you aren't a fan and have had problems with it in the past, this issue isn't going to change your mind on the series.  However, I think everyone can agree that Stewart and Fletcher had a passion for their character and went above and beyond to put her in a brighter place than she probably has ever been.  While time will tell if that remains, they can leave proud, knowing they did it their way.  That reminds me of a song...

Babbs Tarr can also walk away proud because her art was the face of this new Batgirl and she became a comic book rock star because of it.  Babbs and everyone on the extensive art team on this issue should take a collective bow because they kicked ass.  Seriously, if you put all the artists on this book on stage, they would outnumber Parliament Funkadelic, but still the issue ended up seamless.  The highlights are easily the fighting game splash pages announcing each fight.  Kudos to you all.

Bits and Pieces:

Team Batgirl ends their run, not with a bang, but with an issue that is pure fun.  I'm not going to tell you it's perfect...the story felt a bit rushed and the ease of which the bad guys and gals are dispatched is unfortunate, but it looked fantastic and when I was done reading it, I had a smile on my face.  After everything that surrounded their run, both good and bad, I think that's all Fletcher, Stewart and Tarr wanted to do...bring the smiles back to Batgirl and her fans.  For the most part, I'd say, Mission Accomplished.


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