Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Batgirl #51 Review


Written by: Brenden Fletcher
Art by: Eleonora Carlini, Minkyu Jung, Roger Robinson, Serge Lapointe and Steve Wands
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: April 27, 2016

Brenden Fletcher is a team player.  His buddies have left him and he is left to finish up Batgirl and get her ready for the big Rebirth this Summer.  This issue comes hot off the heels of the big #50 from a couple of week's ago and I'd be lying if I told you that these next few issues already feel a bit anticlimactic going in.  That is, of course, before reading them so it wouldn't be fair to just write them off, right?  Right!  That's why I am here to see what Mr. Fletcher has up his sleeve to tide the time before Rebirth hits.

The issue begins with what is supposed to appear like Batgirl chasing a stolen SWAT van, but if you are paying attention, you will realize it is in fact, Spoiler.  Even if you aren't paying attention, she reveals herself in a page or two and Frankie is along for the ride as Operator.  After a bunch of tech talk that explains the weapon Stephanie is using, the bad guys are caught and Frankie tells us that they are from Gladius.  If you have been reading Batgirl since she went off to Burnside, you should remember Gladius and what their leader was doing when Barbara stopped her.  It has ties to both Gotham Academy and Barbara's Clean Energy business.

I loved this beginning.  Spoiler has been great in this book and it's obvious that Brenden Fletcher has been the reason.  She is so kick ass, right down to her action hero one-liner.  We do get a mention of Bluebird as well, but unfortunately, that is just to show that Batgirl isn't out and about.  With her being put on the shelf after the end of Batman and Robin Eternal, it feels weird to have her fighting as Bluebird anyway, but also makes me want to see her in the costume one last time.  Maybe next issue.

We finally get to see Barbara and she isn't too happy about Frankie running shit behind her back.  She also isn't so sure how much she wants to be Batgirl or run her company, so it's a catch-22 situation.  Of course, this whole Gladius thing kind of throws a wrench in it all, but Black Canary is off in Poland figuring stuff out.  Sure, that is a bit convenient and out of nowhere, but we get some information that pushes the story forward.  They are planning on breaking out Gladius Commander during a prison transfer.  We find out quickly, though, that knowing might be half the battle, but that doesn't mean you are going to win the war.

Brenden Fletcher then gives us a bit of setup for Rebirth.  Barbara asks Alysia to run Gordon Clean Energy, she tells Luke and Frankie that she has to go away for a while and we even get a hint as to where and to do what.  It really isn't a lot, but I have to admit that I'm already getting excited for it.  We aren't quite there yet, though, and Black Canary and Vixen show up to make sure we have something important to do next issue.  Gladius Commander wants revenge and it's not Batgirl that she's going after, but a couple of other gals and guys that Barbara (and myself) care a whole lot about.

I'll give Brenden Fletcher some major props here.  He could have just thrown out a humdrum story with the required bullet points, but instead he reached back into his Batgirl run and picked a villain that poses a threat not just to Barbara, but to others that Barbara cares about.  What better way to keep her in Burnside for another issue before her backpacking adventure begins.  I can't fully overlook a bunch of things being forced in here, but overall this was a good issue and a whole lot better than I was expecting.

Babs Tarr may be gone, but she is not forgotten.   Eleonora Carlini, Minkyu Jung and Roger Robinson all continue with her in mind and they all do a bang up job.  It helps that Serge Lapointe (I will always think of him as a potential defenseman for the Montreal Canadians with that name) is on colors and while the transitions aren't seamless, they don't ever ruin the flow of the issue at all.

Bits and Pieces:

Brenden Fletcher has been given the task of transitioning Batgirl into Rebirth and he does a good job here.  While a couple of things felt forced, he still gives fans a callback villain and a story that has me looking forward to next issue.  The art team does a good job maintaining the regular feel of the book and it all combines into an issue that I can recommend to Burnside fans, even if new readers should wait until June and beyond.


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