Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Batgirl #43 Review

Writer: Cecil Castellucci
Artist: Cian Tormey
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: January 22, 2020

Now that we are done with the whole Oracle/Year of the Villain story, I am excited to see what Cecil Castellucci has in store for Batgirl.  Jason bard will play a big role, but maybe we can get a new villain or two to mix it up with Babs.  Let's jump into Batgirl #43 and see what's going on...

The issue opens with a woman being attacked by some monsters in Gotham Central Park while Batgirl swings in and two fellas watch from a fiery portal.  Now, if you didn't read the end of the most recent Titans run, you were probably very confused at this open.  However, if you did, you may have recognized that Batgirl is about to get involved with Unearth.  Unearth?!?!?  Yep, the Unearth story continues here and I admit it, I was shocked.

So, how does Barbara get involved?  Well, the lady who was attacked, ran away and left her book and wallet behind.  Her name is Margeret Lew and she just so happens to have been the editor on the Unearth books and was strolling down memory lane and diving back into the series (which she seems to hate with a passion) when she was attacked.  After fighting off the monsters in the park, Babs takes the book and wallet and says she is going to return them to figure out what went down...and never does.  Instead, she dives into the Unearth books and is hooked.

we then go to Unearth to see what lead up to the opening scene. We see that Ernest Hinton has grown lonely and is trying to create a companion based on Margeret Lew, his old editor, and just can't get it right...without Margeret's help.  His old buddy, Travesty, is there acting like Loki as he does and they go off to find the real thing.

I wonder how anyone who didn't read the original Titan's Unearth story could even know what was going on here.  Cecil Castellucci does zero work to get new readers up to speed on the characters or Unearth itself!  We barely even get their names mentioned and there is no explanation or set up for anything going on here.  I could understand it if we were dealing with a classic story, but this is Unearth we are talking about and this is just not good storytelling!

That continues as Barbara mistakingly gets teleported into Unearth, but is "touched and blinded" by magic so she is lost in a world of her love and we get a sword fight between Jason Bard and Nightwing.  I understand that recent events with Jason have to be causing Babs some anxiety, but there has to be at least 1003 better ways to show it.

The story continues back in Gotham with Ernest Hinton going to convince Margeret Lew to live happily ever after with him.  It takes some convincing... he gives her flowers, makes a castle for her and starts combining Unearth with Gotham.  It isn't until Margeret hears that she can be cured of her suddenly revealed terminal illness that she agrees and sets up the story going forward.

Ernest needs to gather the ingredients for his get well potion (why can't he just create it all by itself????) and Jason Bard is thrown into the role of a brave knight and must slay a dragon...that can't be defeated!

Besides no setup or recap whatsoever for Unearth or its characters, this issue has a major's hardly about Batgirl!  I said earlier I was looking forward to what Cecil Castellucci would bring to this book without the constraints of the Year of the Villain stuff forced on her and getting a continuation of another writer's story that nobody was asking for was a shocker and felt like some sort of inside joke or the result of a lost bet or something.  

Cian Tormey's art was decent.  I would have liked to see a bit more of Unearth, but the script didn't allow it.  Everything felt a bit crammed into the panels and there was a lack of detail at times, but there were far worse things bringing this one down than the art!

Bits and Pieces:

Cecil Castellucci and Cian Tormey head back to Unearth and if that doesn't sound familiar, don't expect this story to get you up to speed at all.  Castellucci just throws the setting and characters at the reader and expects them to care, but nothing here seems interesting enough, even for those who do.  The "big moments" fall flat and Batgirl is left with little to do in her book.  You can add a point or two to the score below if you are familiar with Unearth and have been praying for its return, but I was left shaking my head in disbelief and disappointment.


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