Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Batgirl Annual #2 Review and **SPOILERS**

My Bro the Gigolo

Writer: Mairghread Scott 
Artist: Elena Casagrande 
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire 
Letterer: Deron Bennett 
Cover Artists: Emanuela Lupacchino and Dave Stewart 
Editor: Brittany Holzherr 
Group Editor: Jamie S. Rich 
Cover Price: $4.99 
On Sale Date: August 29, 2019


So I’m reviewing two DC books this week, and both of ‘em are Batgirl. How did we get here? Get it together, scheduling department! This is an oversized issue featuring the new writer, with a terrific art team (that is not the new one going forward.) So let’s give it a look and double-dip on Babs this week by reading my review of Batgirl Annual #2, right here!

Explain It!

I didn’t expect to see another issue of Batgirl this week, but here it is! Like the story in the regular series, Batgirl is also on the trail of a serial murderer in this Annual, except this person makes specific cuts on the victims’ bodies—after they are murdered. These cuts are familiar to Barbara as ones she saw in a horror movie that she watched with her dad and brother. You remember Babs’ brother? James Gordon Jr.? The psychopathic killer, first met in Batman: Black Mirror, former member of the Suicide Squad, and general creepy thorn in Barbara’s side? This looks like it could be his work, but James Jr. is supposed to be locked away in Arkham Asylum. So she’s got to go a-visiting to make absolutely sure.
In a scene reminiscent of Silence of the Lambs…okay, totally ripped-off from Silence of the Lambs, Babs ascertains that James is still incarcerated, and couldn’t rightly be committing these horrible murders and post-mortem slices. He plays some mind games with her, then gives up a box of love letters he’s received from star struck serial killer fans—says one of them might have some more information. Babs is grossed out at having to read the sleazy stuff being written to her brother, particularly since these missives are full of gore and blood lust. Barbara whittles it down to two potential women, but one is in a padded cell, and the other lives with her own terribly abusive partner—James Jr. was her tender escape from this. She has alibis as well, so Barbara leaves the bruised woman to her hateful relationship and moves on.
Then Barbara takes another tack, and seizes on a seemingly normal visitor to James named Meredith Sherman. She got a meeting with James Jr. on the basis of being a psychology student at the local college…except she isn’t a student, she just works there as a payroll clerk. Barbara confronts her and Meredith makes no bones about…well, making bones out of people. Then she attacks Barbara with pepper spray, but Batgirl puts her down pretty easily. She learns that Meredith didn’t go writing letters to James unsolicited, he found her; James Jr. figured out she was a serial killer by following the obituaries, and started writing her with some pertinent advice. In fact, the whole thing was arranged solely so Barbara would visit her brother at Arkham Asylum more! Talk about emotionally needy. In the end, Barbara visits her brother with the news that she figured out his game, and will show up more often despite him being a dick. When she leaves, James takes out a sheet of paper and begins writing a letter to a new person of interest.
This is a really cool, well-paced story that has lots of twists and turns which are not evident while reading. Elena Casagrande creates a very atmospheric, horror movie feel to the whole thing, and while I never felt like Batgirl was in much personal danger, I did feel like the events surrounding her were very dire and required immediate attention. I also loved seeing James Gordon Jr. reintroduced to the world, his existence is one of the hallmarks of Scott Snyder’s run on Batman, but since then it seems like no one’s known what to do with him, and I don’t think he’s even been seen in a number of years. This is a good fit, to turn him into a smarmy Hannibal Lecter type…though decidedly not as calm and collected. If this is a portent for how the series will be going forward, then sign me up. This issue is great fun.

Bits and Pieces:

A very creepy horror story that reintroduces a fan-favorite member of the Gordon family. While some scenes evoke other popular media, the issue as a whole reads very well, and perhaps rarest of all, the reader should be surprised by some of the happenings. I'm looking forward to what's going to happen in Batgirl going forward, which is a relatively new feeling.


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