Monday, August 5, 2013

Batgirl #21 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Simone does a lot with this issue.  It feels a little jumbled in parts, but, on the whole, it's a solid story that shows how Barbara's world is deteriorating quickly around her.

Before I begin, I will say that Simone almost seems to be setting up Barbara to resume her role as Oracle here, laying the foundations for her to hang up the mantle of the Bat as a result of killing James.  (If you're reading any of the other Bat-books, you'd know that we have so many potential candidates to fill her shoes that JT from X's blog has dubbed them "Batgirl, Inc.")  I don't think that Simone is actually going to take that step (if she does, it's likely only to be temporary, given how significant the return of Barbara Gordon as Batgirl is), but she hints at it enough here to keep you intrigued by the possibility.  The most obvious hint comes with Barbara remembering how good she is at computers as she hacks into the GCPD database.  Again, I don't think that Simone is rushing into anything, but I'm intrigued to see how far Simone takes this crisis of confidence.

Turning to the plot at hand, Babs starts this issue in a bad place, reeling from seemingly killing her brother last issuewhile still trying to find the new Ventriloquist and her hostage.  Simone uses Dick deftly here to show how distraught Barbara is, but I almost wonder if it would've been better to wait an issue before bringing him into play.  It not only distracts us from the main conflict of the issue, Barbara's pursuit of the Ventroliquist, but it also means that Barbara's explaining her mental state for the first time to Dick and not the reader.  It might've been better for him to call after her fight with the Ventriloquist and given us some time to get a sense of where she was in her own head.  (Moreover, it makes you wonder why Barbara is taking the time to chat with Dick with she still has a starlet in the custody of a lunatic out there.)

But, when Simone turns Batgirl's attention full force to the hunt for the Ventriloquist, she really shines, showing Barbara struggling to cope with the increasingly high levels of violence that surround her while still staying on top of her game.  We're left wondering how exactly the Ventriloquist does what she does, since she actually seems to animate the dummy (as opposed to her predecessor), but Simone wisely doesn't make her into more of a threat to Barbara than she merits.  In fact, after seeing Barbara struggle to put down villains earlier in this series, such as Mirror and Gretl, it was satisfying to see her so easily dismiss the Ventriloquist when given the chance (even if it felt a little rushed).

Finally, I can't say that I'm totally buying this budding romance with Ricky, but I'm willing to see where it goes.  In general, Simone leaves you wonder where everything is going, something that I continue to enjoy about this series month after month.

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