Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Batgirl #5 Review and **SPOILERS**

We've Been Shanghaied

Writer: Hope Larson 
Art: Rafael Albuquerque 
Colors: Dave McCaig 
Letters: Deron Bennett 
Cover: Rafael Albuquerque 
Cover Price: $2.99 
On Sale Date: November 23, 2016


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 #5!
Explain It!

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 follow.
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.

Bits and Pieces:

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.



  1. I agree! Now that this is over can we please get a new and WAY BETTER story?

  2. I'll be happy if they stop drawing in the veins of Babs Tarr...fuck her, I HATE her art. Barbra Gordon is early 20's and they draw her like she's some idiotic and stupid 16 year old. Can't stand it.