Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Batgirls #16 Review



Written by: Becky Cloonan, Michael Conrad
Art by: Neil Googes, Geraldo Borges
Colors by: Rico Renzi
Letters by: Becca Carey
Cover art by: Jorge Corona, Sarah Stern (cover A)
Cover price: $3.99
Release date: March 14, 2023

Batgirls #16 concludes the mystery behind the neighborhood killer, Cluemaster's resurrection, and every other loose thread in this series.
Is It Good?

At some point, you'll have to concede that DC has stopped trying to tell a good story on certain titles. Batgirls #16 is the latest example of that concession for one simple reason - almost nothing in this issue makes sense.

When last we left the Cauldron (collection of bats), Steph's kidnapping at the hands of Cluemaster, her father, was resolved with a fight and explosion that freed Steph and delivered Cluemaster into police custody. Now, Steph and Cass follow a clue left by Mad Hatter, the mastermind behind all the troubles and Cluemaster's resurrector, to gather all the Batgirls for a late-night tea party.

Taking a step back, what's Mad Hatter's role in this arc/series so far? Up to this point, nothing. He hasn't appeared once, expressed any plans, motivations, or desires, and not one issue has directly tied the Cauldron's challenges to Mad Hatter for any reason.

When the Cauldron arrives at the tea party, they're attacked by life-sized puppets that look like members of the Bat-family, and Steph gets turned into a purple Girl-Bat from a gas spray to the face, even though she's wearing a face mask.

To Cloonan and Conrad's credit, the pacing is solid, and the friendly banter between the Batgirls feels relatively natural. However, everything else is a mess.

What was Mad Hatter after in the first place? Why is Mad Hatter using life-sized puppets when that's a Toymaster kind of thing? What was the point of turning Steph into a Girl-Bat? Why is Girl-Bat purple, and how is she easily able to control herself? How did she turn into a Girl-Bat and Cass didn't when they're both wearing face masks? Why is Mad Hatter collecting assorted potions e.g. Man-Bat serum and Lazarus Serum?

The more your sort through the issue, the more questions pop up because this entire issue feels like random nonsense. I've stated in previous reviews for this series that Cloonan and Conrad have morphed the title into a YA-type adventure and should be considered as such, but I can't imagine any YA reader enjoying this random collection of noise either.

As for the art, it's fine. The bizarre over-application of purples makes this issue hard on the eyes, and some of the line work looks unintentionally sketchy. If you were hoping immaculate art would offset a ridiculous issue, prepare to be disappointed.

About The Reviewer: Gabriel Hernandez is the Publisher & EIC of ComicalOpinions.com, a comics review site dedicated to indie, small, and mid-sized publishers.

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Bits and Pieces:

Batgirls #16 takes the weirdest, most nonsensical path to resolve Mad Hatter's evil plan, even though this issue is the first one where he actually makes an appearance. The plot is bizarrely random, and the art is sub-par compared to the last few issues.


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