Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Batgirls #17 Review

Written by: Becky Cloonan, Michael Conrad

Art by: Robbi Rodriguez
Colors by: Rico Renzi
Letters by: Becca Carey
Cover art by: Jorge Corona, Sarah Stern
Cover price: $3.99
Release date: April 18, 2023

Batgirls #17 finds the Cauldron on the hunt for a sniper with a score to settle. When Grace O'Halloran's cameraman gets caught in the crossfire, it's time for a very special issue about gun control.

Is It Good?

If you're not aware, this series is canceled, so this is the creators' opportunity to go out with a Bang! and show the world that the Batgirls can finish strong. Unfortunately, that opportunity will go unused.
When last we left the Cauldron, the Hill Ripper storyline was wrapped up. Now, with the series end in sight, we begin a new arc involving a street festival turned into chaos when a sniper begins firing on the crowd. Nobody dies, but several are injured, including Grace O'Halloran's cameraman, Roky.

What follows is a bizarre, tone-deaf lecture from the Batgirls about self-defense and gun safety when Grace turns to a gang to buy a black market gun for protection.
To be clear, this criticism isn't about defending or railing against buying a gun. This criticism is squarely leveled at the creators for creating a severely backward and hypocritical propaganda piece to espouse a particular view about gun ownership, contrary to everything about this title and its characters.
Grace O'Halloran feels she's being targeted by a killer and wants to buy a gun for protection. Why does she seek out a criminal gang to buy a gun on the black market when she could go to a reputable gun shop for advice and training? In other words, the creators force Grace to take an illegal path to exercise her legal right as an excuse to invite a lecture.
Let's then look at the situation. A trio of armored vigilantes who wield high-tech gadgetry and weapons operates outside the law to attack criminals. This is not the group you want lecturing anyone about following the law and putting resources toward altruistic endeavors like volunteering at a blood bank. Rules for thee but not for me.
Does the Cauldron catch the sniper? No, and there's a vague hint that the sniper is motivated by one or more Batgirls' past deeds.

If you forget the hypocritical lecturing, is it an enjoyable story? In fairness, the bones of the story read like a classic Batman story from the late 80s. The sniper adds an air of mystery and creates a gritty crime thriller tone to the story. If the Afterschool Special wasn't so poorly inserted into this issue, it would have been one of the strongest starts yet of any arc in this now-doomed series.
How's the art? It's not bad with some problems. First, Cass and Steph are drawn much older looking than in any previous issue in this series. They look like they're in the 25-year-old range, so you lose the early teen adventure vibe. Second, the coloring is abysmal. It looks like somebody puked grape juice on most of the pages. With more consistent figure work and better coloring, this would look like a great issue. 

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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Final Thoughts:

Batgirls #17 begins a new arc heading into cancellation, and if this is the way the Batgirls is going to ride into the sunset, it would have been better for DC to cancel the title at issue #16. A potentially taut crime thriller about a mad sniper is marred by inconsistent art, terrible coloring, and a shockingly tone-deaf lecture about gun control from armored, armed, and illegal vigilantes.


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