Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Batgirl #52 Review


Written by: Brenden Fletcher
Art by: Eleonora Carlini, Minkyu Jung, Serge LaPointe and Steve Wands
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: May 25, 2016

Batgirl really became a lightning rod book when Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr took over the series from Gail Simone.  Seriously, you couldn't go on social media without somebody yelling about the new costume design (pro and con), the new direction and don't even get me started on the Killing Joke!  It got so crazy that the term "Batgirling" became a thing and it even started a feud between Team Batgirl and the Weird Science Get Fresh Crew.  Okay, the feud was mostly in my mind, but it was real to me, dammit!  Now that it's all ending and heading into Rebirth, I actually want to give Team Batgirl a big hug because they went against the dark status quo of the time and told the story they wanted to tell.  Sure, a bunch of people wanted "their" Babs back, but a whole slew of people (younger ones it seemed) actually found their Batgirl living in Burnside and doing things they could relate to.  I am a grumpy old man and I can't find fault with that!  Of course, it all kind of ended with Batgirl #50.  I say "kind of" because Brenden Fletcher stayed behind to end the series and I am glad he did.  When Rebirth hits, Barbara will make like Kwai Chang Caine and head off on her personal journey to enlightenment and it's good to see Brenden there to give her a proper sendoff.  With that, let's get on to the finale of Batgirl...

The issue opens with Gladius Commander telling Maps and Company that even if we were all lead to believe that she was after some sweet Gotham Academy revenge, she really is looking to get back at Batgirl as well as get her hands on a certain device that may provide clean energy now, but can also be used to blow Gotham up in the right (wrong? right?) hands.

While "Whiney Wicks" is crying for his Momma, Maps steps up and Brenden Fletcher shows unfamiliar readers why she is one of my favorite new characters from the entire New 52.  Right on cue, Olive shows why she is a close second! While this is going on, Batgirl and friends...really,this is so close to the Birds of Prey team that Eric and myself begged for so I am going to call them such! 

Okay?  Okay!  While this is going on, the Birds of Prey leap into action and even if I was confused a bit by who or what was creating the "smoke from below", this page was the highlight of the issue for me.  Can someone please call Mr. DC and convince him that THIS is the BOP team that fits the whole idea of Rebirth!

As the smoke clears, Maps gets all fangirl on Babs (Maps!) and Gladius Commander turns into Kali from The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad and I went with it.  After Maps starts the attack (Maps!), the rest of the Birds join in and after a pretty intense battle, they find out...that it wasn't the Gladius Commander after all.  Cue the Price is Right losing horn!

This leads to a game of cat and mouse between the Birds and the Gladius Commander as she grabs the tech she needs to assemble her bomb and ruins Barbara's surprise going away party to boot.  

After finding out that Gladius Commander pulled a "Quick Change" to get in and out of the Gordon Clean Energy Offices undetected, Barbara jumps on her cycle and after finding her (very, very quickly), they fight it out and Babs saves the day (very, very quickly).  I usually would have an issue with that, but this issue really isn't really about heroes versus's about goodbyes.  So, right on cue...

The issue ends with the going away party and we get to see Barbara say her goodbyes to everyone she loves (except Luke?!?) in a nice full page spread that also recalls some great character moments of Team Batgirls run.  Pay attention to what Dinah says, by the way!  Then it's over.  Barbara's time in Burnside is over for now and while I may not have been the biggest fan of the entire run, I am sad that it is now completely done.  While I hope that Hope Larson has her own take on Batgirl in Rebirth, I do hope she shows as much love for Babs that Fletcher, Stewart and Tarr showed during their time with the character.  

This issue was...nice.  I really don't know how else to sum it up.  We get a Birds of Prey that never will be, the easy defeat of a forgettable villain and a whole lot of love from the Burnside Bunch towards their adopted daughter.  Plus, we get Maps and that always puts a big smile on my face.  I always try to review a book on it's own merits, but after reading a whole lot of crappy New 52 endings the last couple weeks, I can only appreciate Fletcher's two issue end a bit more. He got Batgirl packed up and ready for her Rebirth trip, but didn't neglect what he and Team Batgirl did for her and even through in some cool shoutouts for those who were there for it all.  I can't say that this issue was essential reading, but it was nice...Very Nice.

The word of the day must be "nice" because that's how I will describe the art as well.  It's a shame that Babs Tarr wasn't around to finish things up, but Eleonora Carlini (and Minkyu Jung) has proven that she is a more than capable fill-in.  After a bunch of issue with her art, I can even say that I prefer some of her character models over Tarr's, but I really don't want to get into any sort of bodily fluid contest here.  It's good enough to know that Carlini did a fine job helping Fletcher end his run on Batgirl by making everything look so...nice.

Bits and Pieces:

Brenden Fletcher turns off the lights on Batgirl's time in Burnside and while I can't say that this is a "must read" it was a nice ending that fans of Team Batgirl's run should enjoy.  Barbara is heading off to her Rebirth journey and Fletcher and Carlini throw her a going away party and all her fans are invited.  If you are looking for me at the party, I am definitely not the one with the lampshade on my head!


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