BATGIRL #39 Review & Spoilers
“Batgirl vs. Burnside” (20 pages)
Story by: Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher
Pencils by: Babs Tarr
Breakdowns by: Cameron Stewart
Colors by: Maris Wicks
Letters by: Jared K. Fletcher
Covers by: Cameron Stewart; Cliff Chiang
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
This title has hit the ground running!! Interesting choice of words I employ considering that’s exactly what Batgirl is doing as soon as you crack open this book. A small mob is giving chase to the beloved Bat-sitter of Burnside. So much for that! It’s kind of funny yet unseen to have a middle-age woman swing a rolling pin at the vigilante. BG manages to jump to another roof but not before some crazed loon manages to follow suit and almost make it. As he’s hanging on for dear life, she does the noble thing and brings him up. Big mistake! The man lunges at her before she takes him out and ties him in a conveniently hanging bed sheet. Too much. *chuckle* BG muses her woe aloud.
The next panel has BG meet up with her newest tech guy Qadir. The need for secrecy and discretion has never been more paramount. Seems like the entire ‘burb of Burnside wants BG’s head on a platter. Qadir grants her one more request but has to lay low since the heat is cranked up to ridonkulous. One is already curious as to why every single civilian wants to lynch Batgirl. What makes me cock an eyebrow even more is the doubt BG has about the fake Batgirl. She thinks that maybe she herself was responsible for all the online antics. Say what???
As Babs is walking home, she ignores a call from her newest beau Liam. She walks in on Frankie and two other men who are assisting her with the snags on the Hooq server. They are introduced as Max and Phil (can’t tell which is which). One of them (Phil) has helped Frankie before and he works for the GCPD Forensic Data Recovery. That’s quite the coup! The younger guy chimes in (Phil?) and breaks the ice by getting straight to the point — he and the entire GCPD know of Babs dating Liam. Babs downplays it since it’s all fresh and ‘complicated’ but the young buck brings up that anyone involved with the Commish’s daughter is a huge deal. Babs wants to speak to Frankie in private. Uh-oh.
Babs’ concern about her alter ego’s behaviour lingers. However, she misdirects it by asking her roomie if she has been acting oddly. Frankie comes back with a clever but accurate remark: “Strange is your normal, Babes.” I will quote her from here on in! Aside from the irregular hours and talking to herself, Frankie thinks that Babs has been ‘off’ due to her squabble with Dinah. Phil(?) barges in and shows another kink on Hooq’s site: a $20,000,000 bounty on Batgirl!! Force is encouraged. Frankie thinks it’s hopeless to recuperate this hacking. Just when things couldn’t be worse for the Dolled Domino, Babs has to face her thesis superior tomorrow. No more dodging!!
Meanwhile, at Gotham University…Babs is cringing in her seat. This is the very first time she’s met with her advisor Prof. George Krupke. He sarcastically states his delight at their only face-to-face but declares his disappointment at the change in her thesis. He sternly reminds her that her innovative thinking is what allowed her entry into the program. He hopes that Babs isn’t like any other young, ambitious, money-hungry individual wanting to sell an ingenious idea to a common web developer. Babs vows to mend this fence and dispel any rumours. Nadimah provides a much-needed sounding board. Babs informs her of the change in thesis and thanks her for all her hard work. Nadimah consoles Babs with some chips. Just as Babs informs her optimistic co-worker of her problems, in comes Jeremy who overhears Dinah’s name. He’s awestruck that Babs knows someone famous and hopes that he can get a date. Babs bursts his bubble in less than a nanosecond. Jeremy is unsure of Babs’ and Dinah’s friend status. Nadimah lets Babs know that Dinah’s band is setting up the stage at Burnside Square. Way to go!
Sevin, first introduced in #35, is back in the mix. He was a godsend in giving Babs a VIP pass. This is the only way she can see Dinah. Even he knows of the on-going drama between the two buds. Surprisingly, Dinah lends an ear to Babs as soon as she’s spotted. Babs pours out her heart and soul. So wrenching 🙁 Dinah seems sympathetic but her band beckons her. She has faith in Babs. On that note, the lone vigilante deletes Dinah from her contact list. NNNOOO!!! That teardrop hit me like a ton of bricks! Once again, Liam tries to reach Babs. Ignore. Some teens put a ‘No Batgirl’ tag on a wall. BG takes off her cowl ready to discard it forever. Then a cry for help jolts her.
Batgirl to the rescue!! A young woman is surrounded by four hoodlums (literally) in skull masks. Ambush! The victim is in cahoots with the perps. All seems lost when a boot hits one of the guys square in the face. Dinah’s in the alley with Barbara =-0 (to the tune of the verse “Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah”) Friendship reactivated. The Birds are back, baby 🙂 Dinah tells Babs that there’ll be a staff meeting (pun intended!) in the morning.
Rooftop rumble!! It’s such a sunny day in Burnside that it makes me contemplate whether this really takes place in Gotham. I see this as symbolic for something positive. Bo staffs. Check. Ready. Stand. Attack! Dinah spells it out bluntly: Batgirl has become subpar. Her technique has faltered since she’s been more concerned with image-building. Even the most chic of super-heroines is caught up in the viral world — craving celebrity and constantly checking her cell for updates. Babs explains to Dinah that Hooq is the architect of her demise. More specifically, someone controlling the app. That someone is Babs herself. Again, I utter HUH?!? Babs’ best asset (her eidetic memory) has some faulty wiring. Babs answered a call and heard her own voice. Hallucinations due to moonlighting? She doesn’t recall telling Liam things about her family. Dinah tries to reassure her. She provides the solution to Babs’ plight when she says that her mind is a computer. It’s all connected (literally!) Babs’s pattern-mapping algorithm/brain scan has made its way into the Hooq database. Guilty as charged!! This is the code Frankie has been working on eliminating. Babs realizes grave danger lies ahead for her resourceful roomie.
As Babs races back home, Frankie is nowhere to be found. Sevin is there waiting for her. He’s worried since she hasn’t responded to his texts. Babs barges in to Frankie’s room. Her phone has been left behind as well as her crutches. Dinah recalls that Frankie’s legs have been getting worse. This begs an obvious question. Here’s the unsettling part: a message on Frankie’s phone mentions that the owner is lost and was last seen at her office. It also asks Barbara to specifically come to her rescue. Challenge accepted!
Batgirl scopes the building before entering. Through her cell she does a heat scan. It detects two bodies: one seated (Frankie) and the other pacing. Dinah points out that the only sensible way is to take the elevator but BG offers to enter alone. She must save Frankie. What ensues next is the coolest climb ever!! Forget the Bat-ropes. She revs her bike, hits the boosters and BOOM! The rest of the way up is with her grappling gun. It’s awesome that the bike has a parachute to avoid needless destruction. I smiled when I saw Dinah text “Show-off 😉” to BG. Batgirl descends the elevator sliding down the wire. As she walks through the massive mainframes and finds Frankie she is stunned. Frankie is fixated on footage of Babs’ secret life. The Bat’s out of the bag. Babs doesn’t even deny her ID when Frankie remarks this.
Here we go — the shocking finale: when Babs confirms her real self to Frankie, a voice projects the opposite. An angry pixelated face of Barbara herself appears on the jumbo screen. This ‘person’ vows to take back what is owed her. What makes matters worse is that one has to read the upcoming SECRET ORIGINS #10 for the real deal (next week at least) as well as wait another month for the wrap-up. GGGAAAHHH!!!
Exciting. Gripping. Heart-stopping. That’s the exact nature of this issue. I’m thrilled to be reviewing this title yet again (since the new team’s debut). I’m pleased that I decided to continue with this book after Gail Simone left. *phew* This talented trio has been upping its game with every single issue. It’s great to see more exposure on the supporting cast. The best example of this is Sevin. He wasn’t just a brief introduction. He has some importance here. Nadimah is the ideal colleague/work friend. Forget tech support. She excels in moral support. The mystery surrounding the other BG is coming to a head. I leave you readers with this question: is this ‘other Barbara’ a manifestation of the Oracle of old?? Given that this is the New 52 it doesn’t hurt to put a modern spin on things.
Dinah is depicted as tough-as-nails but tender-hearted. Babs Tarr really brings out the ‘bad’ in Black Canary for the obligatory fight scene as well as the sparring but when she leaned in to hear Babs’ outpour, a bona fide friend is seen. Ms. Tarr also extends her range to highlight the various faces of Barbara Gordon: young, hip, deflated, dejected, determined. Cameron Stewart’s breakdowns steady the pace. Batgirl looks menacing and like a crimefighter characteristic of Gotham on page 3, panel 5; page 4, panel 2; and page 11, panel 2. I especially enjoyed the goofy Batgirl emoji made by the Hooq app.
Maris Wicks does a sweet sun-drenched scene. The fervent orange only accentuates Tarr’s and Stewart’s work. The indigo blue night sky reflects Batgirl’s costume. Lastly, that pixelated face is downright scary!! The mean green is definitely a digital delineation.
Jared K. Fletcher succeeds in everything thrown at him. It’s the minor things that catch my eye. (1) The “vs.” surrounded by a circle. (2) The notifications on Babs’ cell phone screen. (3) The Hooq logo. Simple yet elegant. (4) The Courier font on Babs’s laptop.
This was one roller-coaster of an issue. Things can only get better for our girl Barbara. Right? Right? I give this book a 9.5 acknowledging Barbara’s brain scan algorithm.
Tags: Batgirl, Batman, Oracle