Monday, April 27, 2015

Batgirl #40 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

With this issue, Fletcher and Stewart wrap up this first arc in a way that really puts Babs in the first exciting yet stable status quo that she's had in the New 52!

Before we get to the end, though, let's talk about how we got there.  The fight with Oracle was intense.  Oracle reveals that she sent each villain that Babs has faced since issue #35 (when Stewart and Fletcher took over the title) for a specific reason.  The Jawbreakers (the twin motorcycle thieves) from issue #36 were meant to use her past to destroy her (since they were her favorite cartoon as a child).  Dagger Type from issue #37 was meant to use her image to discredit her.  Her tense relationship with Officer Liam from issue #38 was supposed to prove that she can't be happy, and the anti-Batgirl riots in issue #39 was supposed to show that she can't be loved.  The icing on the cake is that Oracle is controlling Riot Black from issue #35, using him as her physical agent to take Frankie and Babs hostage.

Beyond trying to break Babs, Oracle had another plan up her sleeve.  She was going to use Babs' algorithm and its connection to Hooq to attract everyone that could potentially become or abet a criminal to a street fair; then, she planned on using missiles from a military satellite that she had hacked to kill them.  Fletcher and Stewart up the ante by making sure that pretty much Babs' entire supporting cast is there.  (Did anyone notice poor, sad George drinking by himself?  Is he going to become a bad guy?  I hope not.)

In the end, Babs doesn't save the day; Babs and her supporting cast save the day.  Fletcher and Stewart use this issue to show that, despite the strained relationships that Babs has with her friends (partly due to her own poor behavior, partly due to Oracle's aforementioned manipulations), they're all there for her.  Qadir tells Babs that sonic blasts along a certain frequency would disable the razor drones that Oracle sends into the crowd; Dinah (whose band is providing the entertainment at the fair) delivers the blast; Liam calms the crowd after Oracle causes panic by announcing her plans, via video screens, to kill everyone; and Frankie disables the satellite while Babs distracts Oracle.  Group hug!

Along the way, Fletcher and Stewart give us a moment that reminds us why that group is there for Babs, even when she's off her game.  During the time when Riot Black has tied Babs to a chair, Oracle insists to Frankie that they're friends, but Frankie says that they're not; she calls Oracle "a piece of her head from when she was in a bad place."  In other words, Frankie -- and, ultimately, Qadir, Dinah, and even Liam -- see Babs and Batgirl as more than they were when they hit bottom.  It's really all that we need from friends, and Fletcher and Stewart really do a great job of reminding us of that.

All that great stuff said, I have two complaints, one small, one not-so-small.  First, I'm still a little confused about how Babs' algorithm got connected to Hooq in the first place.  It's a small complaint because I feel like Fletcher and Stewart have probably explained that at some point, and it's really just a matter of re-reading these last few issues to remind myself of the answer.  But, more significantly, I don't really buy how easily Frankie fixes the algorithm here.  She announces that it's a "clean, safe version," but how exactly can she guarantee that?  After all, if anything, these six issues have shown us how dangerous this sort of algorithm is in terms of making hypothetical connections that may, or may not,unfold in real life.  Can there really ever be a "clean, safe version" of the algorithm?  Hopefully, we'll return to this issue at a later date; otherwise, this sequence amounts to a professor just waving her hands in front of the board and hoping that we buy what she's selling.

But, all that said, I'm still thrilled with this arc and quite happy with this issue.  Oracle put Babs through the ringer, and she was forced to decide who she is now.  It's been a long road, but I'm glad that we got to the end of it.  Onwards and upwards!

*** (three of five stars)

No comments:

Post a Comment