Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Batgirls #4 Review

Buy 4 Villains, Get A 5th Villain For FREE!

Written by: Becky Cloonan, Michael Conrad
Art by: Jorge Corona
Colors by: Sarah Stern
Letters by: Becca Carey
Cover art by: Jorge Corona, Sarah Stern
Cover price: $3.99
Release date: March 8, 2022
Batgirls #4 follows the trio of Batgirls as they build a new network to protect against Seer, devise new theories about the Hill Ripper's identity, track down the Tutor, avoid the Saints, and introduce a fourth villain... because four wasn't enough, apparently.

Was It Good?

The Batgirls series has been a struggle to get a handle on. In my review for issue #3, I was worried about this book's lack of focus. The creators can't seem to decide which villain to pay attention to or why.

In Batgirls #4, the lack of focus persists and is now made more unfocused by introducing a fifth (and new) villain to the mix. The problem isn't that you can't have more than one villain. It's that the cauldron(?) of Batgirls rotate through each villain at least once through the span of each villain, and consequently, no villain gets enough attention to matter much beyond a superficial visit.

[Spoilers Ahead]

We start with Babs and the girls working through the cliffhanger from the last issue where the Seer could hack Babs network. Then, a slice of time is dedicated to building a "more secure" network to continue Operations. No concern is given to finding out how Seer could crack the network or the potential that the new hideout is possibly compromised. There is no sense of urgency or worry about the situation at all as the girls run off to the next slice of villainy.

Next, Cass and Steph head to the local bookstore during downtime (again, where is the urgency?), where they spot Mr. Greene, the neighbor they suspect of being the Hill Ripper. Steph becomes more convinced when he lifts a heavy delivery of books and acts you don't see as it happens off-panel, and this somehow keeps the "threat" of Mr. Greene as a serial killer alive. On to the next villain.

Next, the heftiest action is reserved for the team hunting down the Tutor via a GPS tracker planted in their last battle. The fight takes effort, but the girls capture Tutor, who looks like a redheaded version of Darkman without the mask. The sequence of events leading up to Tutor's capture works well enough, but again, Tutor has very little time to develop into anything more than a minor threat.

While the girls chase down Tutor, the Saints track their every move. Their mission is to observe and follow, not engage. So we're left with over-armored, former Magistrate wackos, taking orders from what they think is the resurrected Simon Saint (actually the Seer in disguise) for some undetermined purpose. Again, a villain is marginally present but has no time to develop or present as an actual threat.

Finally, Babs inexplicably orders the girls to turn Tutor over to Babs ex-boyfriend whose shadiness you could see from a mile away. She gives the order thinking his expertise as a criminal psychologist and "art therapist" will help lead to some answers about Tutor. No indication is given as to how or why Babs would take such a risk on a civilian she hasn't seen in years and only just reconnected with the day before. It's a monumental lapse in judgment that lowers Babs's credibility.

Of course, the ex-boyfriend is the one pulling Tutor's strings and reveals himself to be a new costumed villain - The Spellbinder.

There are two issues to go in this arc, and to say this story is overstuffed and unfocused is a tragic understatement.

Bits and Pieces

Batgirls #4 takes an already overstuffed story with four separate villains and adds more to the mix. The stylized art might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it suits the neon YA tone of the book. I just hope the creative team can tighten up the story before this first arc ends.


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