In Review: Batgirl #40

You should see what everyone is talking about. Batgirl is incredible entertainment.

The covers: You haven’t entered the Matrix. You’re actually someplace worse, at least it is for Barbara Gordon. The classic version of Batgirl and the recent one, beginning just in the past few months, have combined within a computer and she’s shifting between both versions. Great mash-up of images from Cameron Stewart with outstanding coloring making this be an instant eye-catcher on the stands. I love the computer pixilation effects that make this image look fluid. Outstanding job by Stewart. The Movie Variant cover is a take on a terrible movie, Prince‘s Purple Rain. I can’t stand that movie, but the art by Cliff Chiang on this looks so good I had to buy it. Batgirl is in the Prince pose on the purple motorcycle in a back alley complete with smoke and neon lighting. In the background a door is open revealing the Dark Knight himself looking on. Even the logo has been reworked to mimic the Purple One’s title. It’s cheesy and it’s perfect. Overall grades: Both A+

The story: Things start up right in the thick of things as Batgirl and Frankie have come across a living algorithm inside the Hooq servers. It’s Barbara Gordon versus Barbara Gordon in “Ghost in the Cowl” by Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher. The computer reveals that it has been responsible for all that’s given trouble to Batgirl since Issue #35. The heroine tries to call Dinah for backup, but the computer contacts her first and tells her all is well. Before Batgirl can figure out what to do next, she’s knocked out by a returning villain. Page 4 contains a frightening moment, as Barbara is confined to a wheelchair, frankly typing on a computer’s keyboard. Next to her is Frankie, who has to walk with the assistance of canes. Is this the future or a fate that was avoided? Readers won’t know until they get to Page 5 and I’m not about to spoil it. This is a terrific story that has a computer program, that is for all intents and purposes Barbara, trying to wipe the physical version’s mind so it can insert itself into her brain. As this is going on a number of Gothamites are about to murdered by the same computer. This is a thrilling adventure that will have you searching for the classic Star Trek episode “The Changeling,” from which the climax is really similar, but I loved it nonetheless. I’m sucker for this type of confrontation and to have it end in this manner left me smiling. Overall grade: A

The art: This book continues to be one of the best looking, unique comics on the shelves. The face of the computer Barbara looks great. She has lines going through her image so that readers don’t confuse her with the actual Barbara, and as she gets madder her face becomes more and more distorted, finally ending up as a disturbing looking conglomeration of eyes and mouths. Really creepy looking. The real Batgirl looks sharp as she battles this monster of her making, and when she goes into action at the climax, she’s just awesome. Dinah also looks great, and she has an exceptional scene at the end as well. The breakdowns are by Cameron Stewart and the artist is Babs Tarr. They do a sensational job on every character. Heck, the final two characters just feature characters talking and I’d buy a book that looked like this and only had these types of visuals. The last panel on Page 18 has the greatest scene of joy I’ve seen in a superhero book in some time. That sums up the art on this book well: joyful. Overall grade: A+  

The colors: The colors on this book are incredible from Maris Wicks. The opening page makes events quickly sinister with the heroes in dark purples, contrasted against the threatening greens of the computer screen. The red eye that appears on Page 3 is a nice giveaway to readers that something bad has just arrived. The coloring on Page 5 has a lost in time quality for being ultra faded. It’s mistiness will have readers wondering just what they’re reading. The lighting effects at the bottom of Page 18 are incredible–they look wonderful. That’s the perfect word for Wicks’s work: wonderful. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Jared K. Fletcher really does a lot of varied work on this book, including opening title and credits, dialogue, computer dialogue, a telephone conversation, sounds, computer analysis, a text, and a company’s logo. Using such a wide range of fonts instantly sets the book in the text savvy world of young adults, complemented with the traditional dialogue and sound effects of super hero books. Well done. Overall grade: A+

The final line: You should see what everyone is talking about. Batgirl is incredible entertainment. 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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