Graphic Novel Reviews: Batgirl 019

The Story
Barbara returns to her apartment, where she reveals everything that has happened to her, minus her secret identity, to Alysia. Alysia returns the favor by revealing that she is transgendered. Barbara then leaves to confront James.

At the Gotham Police Department, Gordon gets a call from James, telling him to meet down by the Aquarium. James meets with Batgirl and their mother, where he reveals that Batgirl is Barbara. Their mother shoots James, and in the ensuing fight Batgirl throws a batarang into James’ face, who falls over a railing with a broken back.

Gordon arrives, and places Batgirl under arrest for murder. Barbara considers attacking her father, but in the end she escapes.

The Review

I’m a bit amused by how all morning my RSS feed was full of articles discussing the momentous occasion of Alysia being the first transgendered character in mainstream comics. I can certainly see that this is a momentous occasion, but really, the moment didn’t have any impact on the rest of the story for this issue, so I don’t see any reason to bother spending much time on it.

Though, considering how this is the first transgendered character in mainstream comics, could the fact that Gail Simone was planning this be the reason she was initially taken off Batgirl? Probably not, but it’s a thought worth considering.

As for the story itself, I admit I wasn’t expecting to see the conclusion to the James Jr. story so soon. Considering how he’s been woven throughout the entire Batgirl series I would have imagined that he would have stuck around for a bit longer.

Though, James’ apparent death is a bit exciting, because with this all of Batgirl‘s story threads are resolved. Or at least those that have been built up in the book. I may be forgetting some, but from where I’m sitting right now I’m excited to see where the story will be going from here.

While I do enjoy Batgirl I am getting a bit tired of the general dour nature of the Batman books. Sure dour is what I signed up for with Batman, I always figured Barbara Gordon as Batgirl to be a much more lighthearted character. Someone, please, throw me a bone here. Not even Power Girl, who was my main source of superhero levity, is lightening the mood at all. We need some variation in tone here, after how heavy the Bat Books have been I really need something lighter. Well, that’s what I’ve got the IDW books in my pull list for I suppose.

For this story alone, it feels like we didn’t quite get enough material of James’ past with the rest of the Gordons. We got the opening scene, which was good, but other than that I don’t really feel like I know him. I know the majority of his story has been covered before, but new readers need to know all relevant information in the proper story. Just a few more scenes of James Jr. would have been appreciated.

Also, it looks like a bit of the Joker rubbed off on James Jr. during their short time together. James hitting Batgirl on the head with a mallet was a bit more comical than the tone of the story was actually meant to be. Which works just fine for me, like I said, any bit of levity helps.

From here on out I look forward to the aftermath between Batgirl and Gordon over James’ murder, but I imagine these events will further drive a wedge between Batgirl and the rest of the Bat Family. Granted, the wedge was already there, but mostly on the part of everyone else towards Batman. Now Batman has a reason to cut off association with Batgirl. I look forward to see where this goes, but would very much appreciate a bit more levity.

The Grade

3/5

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