Batgirl #34 // Review
Batgirl is on the trail of those who hired a man to assassinate a politician. When it turns out to be a group of three people with animal heads, things get a little dangerous in the distinctively strange world of Gotham City. All of this and further mysteries around the edges of Barbara Gordon’s like find their way into the latest issue of Batgirl written by Mairghread Scott with art by Paul Pelletier and ink by Norm Rapmund. After a lengthy introduction that deepens the intrigue, Scott launches Babs on a journey that lands her straight into a very strange and deadly den of criminals.
A vulture a shark, and a fox stand around eating meat and discussing matters involving a certain politician and how Batgirl had thwarted their plans to get rid of her. There’s some strange intrigue involving the three of them. Meanwhile, Barbara Gordon is beating the traffic off to work with the use of her mask. “You know what the real super-villain in Gotham?” Asks Batgirl in captions. “Cross-town traffic.” In and around moving into a new place and working for the politician whose life Batgirl helped to save, Babs is investigating the people who hired the Cormorant to assassinate her boss...an investigation which finds her face to face with the treacherous Vulture, Shark, and Fox.
Mairghread Scott’s writing intensifies a bit with this issue now that this phase in Batgirl’s life is firmly established. The overall composition of the issue feels impressively balanced considering there are a solid three pages at the beginning of the issue which feature characters that haven’t even been formally introduced yet. It’s clearly a Batgirl comic book from the beginning, which makes the sudden presence of three people in suits and ties anthropomorphized animal heads all the more strange. The introduction of the menagerie of villains at the top of the issue foreshadows Batgirl’s altercation with them at issue’s end. Everything that happens in between advances the life of Batgirl and the conflicts that have been encroaching into her life. It’s a very well laid-out issue. Thanks to solid delivery on Scott’s part, the layout of the plot doesn’t feel at all forced.
The trio of villains might have looked unbearably silly under the pen of the wrong artists. Pelletier and Rapmund manage the right balance of realism and weirdness. Shark, Fox, and Vulture all look about as realistic as three animals with gangster-like human bodies can look. Babs herself looks suitably heroic throughout the issue with inner turmoils and valiant heroism all being vividly drawn across her face. Her heroic action feels suitably classy as well as she moves across the page with a grace not often seen in her more established Gotham City counterpart.
The latest issue of Batgirl is the opening of a three-part story Scott is calling “Terrible.” The three-part story is off to an engaging beginning featuring a compelling combination of decent writing, decent art and a very precisely-balanced amount of stylish weirdness. The quality of Babs’ adventures appears to be looking up for the next couple of issues.