Batgirl #38 review

The Batgirl of Burnside is a thing. The hipsters are wild about her, she's the queen of social media. And Barbara Gordon has begun to enjoy the attention, revelling in being asked for autographs and selfies.

Old friend and former crimefighter Black Canary, aka Dinah Lance, is singularly unimpressed. She thinks Babs has regressed to childhood, Babs has a different view.

They both have a point, and it pains me to see them at one another's throats. I'm not thrilled with quite how shrill and haughty Dinah is here, but if I have to choose a side, I'm on hers - Babs has forgotten who she is. And this issue makes that point beautifully.

On a date with Gotham cop Liam, they come across another local celeb, Jordan Barberi, rich because his dad was a crook and star of a reality show. A bit of a brat, he's endangered locals with his street racing. Liam wants to take him down, Babs is surprised he wouldn't welcome Batgirl's help, but he sees Batgirl as an attention-seeking vigilante, as much a danger to the public as Barberi.

Soon, Babs is in costume and tracking down Barberi with the help of tech whiz Qadir, whom she disturbs at home, demanding he drop everything to assist her and not noticing his concerns about invasion of privacy - he'd never told her where he lives, she'd just assumed she had the right to find out, turn up and treat him like a lackey. Good going, Babs.

Her big concern is that Barberi is going to be racing around the streets of Burnside drunk, putting the public at risk. She zooms to a nightclub on a souped-up bike from the lab that employs Qadir - not putting his job at risk at all, there - and provokes him into ... racing around the streets of Burnside drunk, putting the public at risk.

She could have just let his tyres down.

No one dies, but there are life-altering consequences for one Burnside resident, hopefully giving Babs food for thought.

And that's not all that's going on this time. There's the surprising amount Liam knows about Babs. Who's behind the computer bug driving flatmate Frankie nuts? What's up with Dinah's new job? How will Babs' first meeting with her PhD supervisor go? And why is David Tennant in her office?

One of these makes for a good cliffhanger, the rest are fun soap fodder, helping this issue feel like a good, meaty TV show. Writers Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher are really cooking this time, subverting the title's apparent addiction to social media trends and identification with the selfie generation. They also look to be moving Babs to a centre ground between the flighty gal of recent months and super-serious woman of the previous few years - I think she's about to realise that you can't get very far in the shallows. I'm especially hoping she stops acting quite so entitled, treating everyone like bit parts in her story - that's far too meta. 

I've not a single qualm about the art: Babs Tarr, working with Stewart's breakdowns, produces edible images by the score. The character designs and acting are wonderful, the street race brilliantly kinetic and the backgrounds, well, I'd happily live on a street like this - I'd love to see the picture without the words.

A shout-out, too, to colourist Maris Wicks, for evoking city life with her smart choices, and Jared K Fletcher for lettering the wordier-than-average script - not a complaint!

And how clever of writers and artists to use this image to show how Batgirl has become the in-thing.

This is a smart, great-looking series and it's only getting better - that's one trend I'd like to see continue. 


  1. I loved this issue almost as much as the previous ones but is anyone else bothered by who Babs is dating? The fact that the man can't stand Batgirl and what she stands for was an okay plot point back when we didn't think things through as much as we do today. You could have heroes love interests hate their alter ego or be in some kind of conflict and it was okay. Now Babs comes across as a self-centered bitch for leading the man on when she's been told up front he'd dislike and even arrest her if he knew what she did at night. I know it's not intentional but Babs is using him to get what she wants from a relationship while knowing she's; the exact opposite of what he wants. Just a thought...

  2. Excellent point there, Steve - just another example of how Barbara perhaps isn't thinking straight, or is being incredibly self-centred. She needs to sort herself out.


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