Monday, August 24, 2020

Batgirl #48 Review

Babes in Jokerland

Writer: Cecil Castellucci
Artist: Robbi Rodriguez, Jordie Bellaire, and Andworld Design
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: August 26, 2020

With all the Joker War tie-ins going on right now, Batgirl has been my least favorite.  It's not that Cecil Castellucci is doing too little, but that she might be trying to do too much.  We have Barbara facing off against Joker, which is crazy, but it doesn't jive well with the overall Joker War story or the other tie-ins (especially Nightwing), and overall, it felt off.  At points, it felt empowering but forced, while other times, it felt dark and sick.  That would be fine for the Joker, but I'm talking about what Barbara herself did!  So, does this second issue make things a bit better?  Let's find out...

The issue opens with pages showing all the troubles Barbara has dealt with over the years, including the Joker.  Besides the Joker, we get her father and also her brother, James Jr.  If you are wondering why those two are showing up, literally out of nowhere, you won't get much explanation from Castellucci.  It all leads to an issue that is not much of a Joker War tie-in, but more of a convoluted mess written by someone who doesn't seem to know any of the characters they are writing.

It all starts with James Jr, who we last saw in the Batman Who Laughs mini, but is now at his sister's bedside, even though he is a convicted murderer.  If you read the mini, it ended with him heading back behind bars at his father's request, but you wouldn't know it here.  Castellucci plays it like he is a guy who didn't get the breaks his father and sister he is a psychopathic murderer!  

Speaking of James Gordon, we haven't seen him since the Infected story, and while Castellucci at least mentions it by name, she does nothing else at all.  He seems to be here only to fight with his son and listen in on the police radio like a sad sack.  On top of that, Castellucci writes a lousy version of both Gordons.  However, they are not even close to the worst written character in this issue!

So, without the Joker appearing in this issue, what is Barbara doing?  Well, she leaves the hospital she woke up in (some kids took her there, and Castellucci seems to make a point that they were "High") to go get her implant and then calls Luke Fox to help with some spinal surgery.  Not Frankie, who gets name-dropped a couple of times, but Luke Fox.  I am glad we are told it's Luke Fox, though, because Castellucci writes him so off that it is laughable.  He calls Barbara "Babes" over and over to the point that I laughed out loud.  It's cool to find out that Luke and Barbara dated briefly back in her Burnside days, but that doesn't trump functional characterization and getting a character's voice correct.

Once Barbara (or Babes) has her implant back in place, she immediately jumps up and swings into action.  The issue ends with a neat cliffhanger that would be good if even a decent issue preceded it, and the fact that this has a Joker War stamp on the cover is a joke. 

This book has gone straight into the crapper since Castellucci started writing it, and I wish DC would have just kicked her to the curb instead of canceling it outright.  Batgirl fans deserve way better than this, and when Barbara comes back, I hope DC hires a writer who knows the character and her supporting cast better than what we are getting right now because this is an embarrassment!

Thankfully, I liked Robbie Rodriguez's art, or my score would have been even lower.  It's like a cool mix of Babs Tarr and Bilquis Everly, and that fits the character well and looks good.

Bits and Pieces:

Batgirl #48 is hardly a Joker War tie-in, and really, it's just a convoluted mess.  Cecil Castellucci throws characters at the reader without thought of proper setup or characterization and while Robbie Rodriquez's art is good, it can't save this sinking ship.  I am sure that Batgirl fans will stick it out until this series ends at #50, but they deserve something...anything better than this.


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