In Review: Batgirl #46

Come for the action, stay for the characters.

The cover: Batgirl and the Spoiler are coming straight at the reader with fists and karate chops on this cover by David LaFuente and Gabe Eltaeb. Talk about your action covers — they don’t come better than this. From this perspective anyone can see what it would look like if one of these heroes was gunning for them. Great perspective on both (with some excellent work done on their hands) and the colors are spectacular, making it seems like a massive explosion is going off behind the twosome. Excellent work by both artists. Overall grade: A

The story: “Gang War” by Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher is a good character story for Barbara Gordon and her friends. The issue opens with Barbara and Nadimah going around the neighborhood, trying to find out why gangs have been plaguing the neighborhood. They interview one scared woman who reveals that her son is in one of the gangs. “Young lady, what options do any of us have when the people with the money decide our fates?” The pair realize that building developers are trying to squeeze the residents out so they can rebuild. Barbara feels stressed, like she’s running on automatic pilot during the day, but she still has to work at night as Batgirl, and that’s when she encounters one of the gangs. She makes quick work with some surprise assistance, and it’s this character that leads her to help the Spoiler. There’s some good action scenes in this book, but the moments when the title character was out of the cowl were the strongest. She has a conversation with Frankie that was long overdue, with the latter revealing something done a few issues ago. There’s another strong scene where she has a meal with Luke, and Barbara reveals something that “could be really big. Like billion dollar big.” Alas, that thread is left dangling for another issue, as the book ends by returning to a character from earlier and Barbara feeling terrible. Excellent action, but also a stronger building of characters. Overall grade: A

The art: Babs Tarr is the artist, with Rob Haynes doing breakdowns on Pages 13 – 16. I’m a huge fan of Tarr’s work and I’m continuing to be one with this issue. Her style is very different from the rest of DC Comics’ Bat-books, and I’m glad because it makes this book stand out. Her action scenes are good, such as when she encounters the gang in the beginning, and they also look good over Haynes’ breakdowns, which is the big fight scene of the book. However, as with the story, she does an exceptional job when the focus is on Barbara. The emotions she gives her characters are so well done that one would be able to understand the basic gist of the story without the text: it’s obvious when a character is trouble, confused, angry, or upset with themselves. I especially like when Barbara goes on her phone on the final page: that’s the look I see on all my students’ faces during lunch when they’re looking up something on their devices. Now where Barbara is Batgirl, she also has some great emotions and she does something that, sadly, Batman rarely does anymore — she smiles! She enjoys what she’s doing during a fight and revels in it. I so miss that in the Dark Knight’s tales and is one reason whey I no longer pick them up, yet purchase this book faithfully. The Spoiler also has some good scenes, with her being a lot better than when last seen in the recent Batgirl Annual. The villain is a very unique choice for this issue. He’s not been seen before, but I’m hoping he returns, because I want to see what “blue” was. Overall grade: A

The colors: Also impressive are the colors by Serge LaPointe. It’s an absolute thrill to read a Bat-title that’s not completely in the dark. Bright colors are used to punch up backgrounds, such as on Page 2, but they also heighten the sense of reality, such as in the final panel on that page. The night scenes are well done, with light blues and greens used to establish the evening, and when the action kicks in the traditional bold colors of orange and yellow come into play. The sound effects are also good, THWOK and KRAK! coming off the pages due to their colors. This is a well done job throughout. Overall grade: A

The letters: Dialogue, story title, credits, sounds, an editorial notation, Frankie’s transmissions, yells, a text, and next issue’s tease are created by Steve Wands. This book must be an absolute joy for Wands to do with all the variety of fonts necessary to tell this story. I never get bored looking at what he brings to this book, with the sounds and the texts always looking sharp. Overall grade: A

The final line: An excellent issue and a good jumping in place for new readers. Come for the action, stay for the characters. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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