Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Batgirl #44 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Wow, this issue is a mess.  I'm as surprised as you are that I'm saying it about this title, but there we have it.

First, I've read the issue twice (and certain parts three times), and I'm still not entirely sure I understand the plot.  As best as I can tell, Jeremy's crazy ex-girlfriend, Lani Gilbert, was furious that freelancers that she hired for her defunct company, Gilcom, left.  (She apparently doesn't understand the point of freelancers?)  She blackmailed Jeremy with an old hard-drive that showed that he plagiarized his Master's thesis, getting him to use a device to swipe the bio-metric data of some students.  She then used this data to open the doors for the tigers, effectively framing them for the murders of the freelancers.  Meanwhile, she used Jo to intercept her illegal shipment of Bengali tigers, claiming the insurance on the "lost" equipment supposedly in the containers.  She also knew that she'd somehow come into contact with Batgirl, so she created a device that could activate her gadgets remotely.  Qadir later examines the device's code and finds that it essentially "re-wrote time."  (We're not told how resetting the internal clock would activate Barbara's foam bomb, but I'm trying just to go with it.)  Separately, Luke miraculously recognizes non-native code in the device's code as Ralph Dean's, and he tells Barbara that he worked for Gilcom, drawing the connection to Lani that Babs needed.  (We're also not told why Ralph's code is mixed into the larger code.  We learn that it apparently caused kernel panic, but I'm not sure if it's that or the screwed up internal clock that caused the bomb to explode.)  In the end, with the help of Alysia and (unbeknownst to Babs) Frankie, Babs saves Jo and defeats Lani.  Babs later tells Luke the story, and they share a kiss.  Meanwhile, Frankie has developed a neural link to Barbara's bike.  (It's how she helped save Babs in the fight with Lani.)

If you couldn't tell from the non-linear nature of that summary, the issue is all over the place.  Fletcher and Stewart never give us any reason why Gilbert finally lost her marbles.  Jeremy says that she's always been obsessed with people following her orders to the letter, and I think that we're supposed to conclude that the loss of her company drove her over the edge.  We're also not told that, really.  Moreover, we're not told why she's obsessed with tigers.  We're supposed to believe that she's enough of a genius to create a device that can jam Barbara's gadgets, but she apparently isn't smart enough to know that her tiger shtick would be pretty easily traced to her?  She couldn't have just shot the freelancers?  She had to release tigers into the officers?  Plus, she goes through all the trouble to frame the students for the murders, but Alysia is easily able to track the "computer components" shipment in her activist group's e-mail to Gilcom?  Really?  Moreover, we've got Barbara's sudden relationship with Luke and the unexpected fall of Jeremy to make the issue even more emotionally confusing.

In other words, it's all just too much too fast.  We needed at least another issue in this arc, to give the authors some time to delve into Gilbert's motives, at the very least.  Instead, she's reduced to just a crazed woman with control issues, making it seem like Fletcher and Stewart are taking inspiration from a particularly disliked ex-girlfriend or mother.  This issue feels like we've returned to the low points of the Simone run, with the random villain-of-the-week never making any sense beyond the immediate needs of the story.  Hopefully we'll be able to put it behind us and never speak of it again.

* (one of five stars)

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