Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Batgirl #49 Review

Killing Me Softly

Writer: Cecil Castellucci
Artist: Robbi Rodriguez
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: September 23, 2020

Cecil Castellucci has a tall order for this Batgirl book - tie it into the Joker War while also ending it at issue #50.  While the last issue showed that she probably will ignore the Joker War part of that, I am interested in seeing how the book ends.  While I haven't liked much of anything Castellucci has done with this series since she jumped on it, I hope that she can do herself and the previous creative teams justice by sticking the landing.  Is this penultimate issue looking promising?  Let's find out...

The last issue's cliffhanger with a Batgirl look-alike/cosplayer found dead was intriguing enough, but starting off this issue, seeing the next victim's preparation didn't let the mystery sink in at all.  It's a psychopath, serial killer obsessed with Batgirl, and of course, that all points to James Gordon Jr.  So what's the big twist?  Where is the rug pulled out from under us, revealing we were wrong the whole time?  Well, we do get a bit of something by the end, but not enough to make this clever at all.

We get convoluted detective work with Barbara centering on odd things and even coming up with wrong deductions.  She says that only one of the victims had the Batgirl costume while still alive, yet we see that it is not true.  We also get some odd bickering between Babs and her father, and while that has been a thing in this run, Castellucci doesn't make it feel real.  It's like she doesn't get the characters and what makes them tick.

Part of the "mystery" ends up being revealed by the victims' locations making a bat symbol on a Gotham map, and that is so overplayed in Bat-books that it is eye-rolling here.  The other bit of Detective work leads Batgirl right to her brother, but after demanding it isn't him, Batgirl goes off to end the killing spree... and finds out it was her brother all along, but with a twist.  A twist that feels a bit odd since James Gordon Jr. should be behind bars already.

The issue ends with a big cliffhanger that makes sure that Jim Gordon won't be loving Batgirl anytime soon, but again, it all felt off and because of that, didn't hit as hard as it might have with a better writer telling the story.

I am sure you can guess that I didn't like this issue.  The whole Batgirl murders go by too quickly and too loose.  Because of that, and some odd contradictions, this wasn't as engaging as it should have been.  Castellucci took over this book, and it doesn't seem she had any worthwhile story to tell, and Batgirl fans deserve so much better.  By the way, what happened with Jason Bard not having a limp anymore after the Unearth story?  He has his cane back this issue, and nobody is saying shit about it.  I know it's a nitpick, but it's just another example of Castellucci not making sense with her own story!

Bits and Pieces:

I was looking forward to this issue after the last issue's cliffhanger, but the Batgirl murders hit with a thud, and while the ending is significant in the Babs-verse, the clunky and convoluted route to it lessened it by a ton.     
Robbi Rodriguez's art was good, but this book has been on a downward spiral since Cecil Castellucci took it over, and while I am sad Batgirl is canceled, I am not sad this one is.



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