Batgirl #38 // Review
Barbara Gordon falls asleep trying to patch together a new costume out of the remains of a few others. As an ally, she created in another life evolves to become her enemy. There’s a dark grittiness to Batgirl #38 as new series writer Cecil Castellucci continues the latest chapter in Batgirl’s life. Carmine Di Giandomenico’s Moebius-esque line-work dazzles in details that don’t detract or distract from the bone-grindingly kinetic level of the action in another satisfying issue of the series. Color adds energy to the page courtesy of colorist Jordie Bellaire
Barbara Gordon hauls herself out of the wreckage of a collapsed building. She’s wearing what’s left of her Batgirl costume. Babs is down on her luck, so there’s no fancy Batcycle or Batmobile for her. If she’s going to make it back home to her squalid, little apartment, she’s going to have to take the Gotham City Subway. She’s going to fall asleep trying to patch together her suit. She’s desperate to take down the villain known as the Moth who got away the last issue. Meanwhile, Oracle (an AI that she created in another life) has just allied itself with her old foes The Terrible Trio. Things are about to get worse for Batgirl before they can get better.
Castellucci casts Babs into the fire to bring out her true heroism in novel ways. Falling asleep while trying to patch together her costume is a fascinating visual manifestation of undying commitment. She’s gliding around Gotham fighting crime in an outfit that’s clearly been patched together. The dilemmas of being a woman bruised, beat-up, street-level crime-fighter, with a day job are prominent. As a co-worker suspects that Barb is the victim of domestic abuse. She tells him its a rough workout. In this case, keeping her identity secret means taking the gentleman in question to her gym. Castellucci is putting together smart, interesting stuff that details Batgirl’s distinctive style of selflessness.
Di Giandomenico details a very intricate, little world for Batgirl. Action blurs in the. Foreground as it shoots across the page. The architectural atmosphere adds a substantially deep level of visual background for the story in one panel alone. Di Giandomenico delivers one hell of a lot of information about what Babs has been up to by simply showing the interior of her apartment. There’s an old pizza box on a well-worn couch, a well-stocked bookshelf, a computer in the corner and a mess on the living room floor. There’s a dangerous atmosphere added to the page by colorist Bellaire. The multiple different spectrums through which Oracle sees the world are seen in POV panels exhibiting a blinding yellowy-orange contrast with the darkness of the rest of the issue. In vision and presence, the arch-villain on the horizon is given a godlike glow by Bellaire.
Castellucci and Carmine Di Giandomenico are dragging Batgirl through some really, really rough times to show relentless heroism. With any luck, the team’s tenure with the character will last long enough to see her rise triumphant out of the disheveled mess of her life in the first couple of issues of their time with her. So far this has been a thoroughly engrossing walk with Barbara Gordon.