BATGIRL #40 Review & Spoilers
“Ghost in the Cowl” (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 is it, faithful ones!! The culmination of the first arc with the newest creative team. Batgirl/Babs vs. her artificial adversary!!!
Let’s be honest here. The good gals always win. Usually. The new direction this title has taken ensures a landslide in the win column for Barbara Gordon/Batgirl and her allies. Nevertheless, some suspense and breath-taking moments ensue.
Like any other classic sci-fi trope, be careful what you build because it might just overtake you and the rest of humanity! Babs’ missing algorithm has become sentient and damn-near omnipotent. Danger, Ms. Gordon!! One could go into a long drawn-out philosophical tangent here but I won’t. Suffice to say, the A.I. believing itself to be Babs is severely pissed and serving a grand heap of revenge.
The A.I. has taken meticulous steps to ruin every aspect of her real-life counterpart’s existence. She even mimics Babs’ voice when BG tries to call Dinah for back-up. As soon as that little twist is dealt with, BOOM!!! In comes Riot Black. As I mentioned earlier, everything leads up to this. It makes sense to bring things full circle by having one of BG’s newer nemeses re-enter the fold. The computer-controlled online extortionist unfairly and shamefully blindsides the Masked Maiden by clocking her one.
Flashback: Barbara is furiously (literally!) working on an intelligent program that will predict all future crimes as well as prevent them. That way, no one will ever have to live in fear whilst in Gotham City, and more importantly no longer be a victim. Frankie tries her best to break Babes’ concentration by pleading her to take a break and eat, but Babs is beyond determined to make this happen. The anger definitely transferred into the algorithm and become an inherent trait.
When BG awakens from her blackout, the way she is sitting and bound reminds me of her stance as an immobile individual. The A.I. will access control of the implant that grants Babs mobility and transfer her true ‘consciousness’ back into the mainframe to carry out the directive of eliminating ALL crime. The end result will have the true blue Batgirl become a vegetable. Riot Black is programmed to do all the grunt work. The A.I. then proceeds to appeal to Frankie’s humanity by stressing the importance of friendship. Frankie retorts by refusing the offer stating that she has been held hostage for almost an entire day. She astutely points out that the algorithm is essentially an angry part of Barbara that was input and festered until it becomes a full-fledged flawed program.
How does Hooq play into all this? The social media/hook-up site was a launchpad for analyzing data and shuffling statistics to prevent present and future criminal activity. How unsettling is that?!? Just when you thought you were looking for a date, Sinister Sister steps in and determines your worthiness as a law-abiding citizen!! All of the new cast is conveniently assembled at the public square promoting Hooq’s ‘success’. Bios and disturbing predictions are made of each member: Qadir, Alysia, Nadimah, Jeremy, Liz, and Dinah. Babs is still tied up. Even worse, she risks having her number one asset erased. The A.I. has overwritten the security codes on a Quraci satellite that has its weapons system pointed at Burnside Square. Total annihilation will occur in less than 24 minutes.
Before you can even gasp for air, Babs unties herself and calls the algorithm on its defectiveness. It, in turn, has a little freak-out. Frankie, ever so cool under all this intense pressure, throws Babs her cowl and rightly states: “Heads up, Batgirl.” No sooner has Babs/BG reaffirmed herself, in comes Riot Black once again fighting dirty. That bastard!! He deserves a good beating. Babs goes ballistic and through several fists of fury knocks him down for the count.
Things aren’t that easy…duh! The A.I. launches drones with razor-tip wings to cut into the fun. BG kicks the chair where Frankie was seated creating an escape route. She leaps out the window, snatches the line on one of the giant balloons, and swings down to the crowd. BG begins to take out the drones but they are too numerous. Time to call/text a friend. Lifeline, come in please! She begs Qadir to offer much-needed techspertise. Qadir spells out the specs and informs her that a 20 kiloHertz sound wave will do the job quite nicely. HHHMMM…are you thinking what I’m thinking? Oh, Dinah!! The Black Canary sings for her supper and saves the day.
The GCPD emerge to arrest the ‘vigilante’. BG begins to reason with the officer when the algorithm interrupts and broadcasts ‘her’ vitriol to the masses. Correction: Frankie has publicized the crazy computer’s plans to the crowd. Batgirl needs all the help she can get. She passes the microphone to the officer and asks him to calm the citizens. He does this effectively. BG tells the A.I. that she has evolved beyond her own original ‘programming’. What was once a dark place has been awash in light. The past remains where it is. Progress has been made in leaps and bounds. What is the best way to take down a cold-hard computer? Logic!!! BG argues that the A.I.’s rationale is flawed. By using irrefutable logic against faulty one, the A.I. begins to process that and shuts itself down. Frankie acts fast and disables the satellite’s firepower. Burnside is spared!
The cop is still gung-ho in arresting BG. Dinah pleads her case to convince him to look the other way. BG has pulled a disappearing act, something most likely picked up by her mentor and inspiration. Dinah grabs the mic and tells the crowd that the best way to celebrate is to par-tay!!!
All in a day’s work. As she peacefully slumbers, Babs is interrupted by a text from her roomie. Frankie summons her into the living room. Frankie provides macchiatos as a treat. She is in awe that her roomie is a celeb super-heroine. Babs tells her that her knowledge of this and involvement is very high-risk and extremely dangerous. Frankie brushes that off and wants to remain in the game. She has a real special gift for Babs.
Is this the birth of the new Oracle?!? Frankie has isolated Babs’ algorithm and eliminated the corrupt version. The crime prevention can still be used. In essence, she can control it and offers to become Batgirl’s partner. Big tease — she has a name for it but we don’t learn it since Dinah comes a’knockin’. She has come to say farewell to her former partner. She now has a record deal and will venture into a totally unexpected direction. She mentions it’s only for one album and cash is a precious commodity for her. Babs tells Dinah that Frankie is willing to sign on as the newest crew member. Frankie doesn’t have any training (physical and psychological) but she has knowledge of BG’s secret ID and saved the suburb from instant vaporization. Babs and Dinah hug it out. The adversity paved a golden opportunity for the Black Canary.
Dinah points at Frankie’s laptop and inquires: “What’s that?” Well, we don’t know. The answer to that won’t come out til June when #41 is released. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!
*clap* *clap* *clap* This latest issue was an excellent way of tying up all the loose threads developed in this first arc. Since I have been following this series from day one (and almost foolishly considered dropping it with the soft reboot), Barbara Gordon and Batgirl have reconciled the two halves and have completely discarded all the darkness. I had predicted a different outcome — the A.I. would have been reprogrammed, would have been named Oracle, and would have become Babs’ newest tool in crimefighting. Alas, I’m glad I was proven wrong. The testament I acknowledge to the writers is this: there were elements of hardship and peril but hope was never abandoned. One major mystery solved. On to new adventures!! [Real subtle the request to check out BLACK CANARY #1. Not!!]
Babs Tarr continues to spread the ebullience and effervescence. All the ladies have a fresh feel to them. The scowl behind the cowl had no chance of outmatching these formidable females. Ms. Tarr has painted a sprawling canvas that remained fluid in the span of six issues. I relish seeing more of her work in the months to come.
Cameron Stewart is there as Ms. Tarr’s ‘back-up’. The two work so well together that it is almost impossible to tell where he comes into play since the end result is synchronous. He has more control since he’s also one of the writers.
Maris Wicks kept things bright. Literally!! The theme to this entire first chapter is all about brightness. She balances the luminous hues with polished tones. There is no clash in colour here.
Jared K. Fletcher reigned supreme. His transcription of the A.I.’s speech was eerily accurate. You could actually hear ‘her’. Creepy! He got to works his fingers more by providing stats on the cast members as well as show Frankie’s override instructions.
All in all, an extremely accomplished end to what I hope are many chronicles by this latest, greatest collaboration. I give this book a C++ (a nod to all you tech savvy individuals). For the plebes, that’s a 9.5 out of 10.
Tags: Batgirl, DC Comics, Oracle