Advent Review #13: Batgirl #26 (Comics Review)

We are finally here, the end of the Wanted arc for Batgirl which put Barbara through some of her most trying moments in life. Having killed her monster of a brother, then gone up against the psychopathic Ventriloquist and then on the run from the Gotham Police for her brother’s murder, Barbara has gone through the lowest of low moments, emotionally speaking. The interruption of the Zero Year issue last month by Marguerite Bennett was extremely frustrating since otherwise #25 would have ended this fantastic story arc, something I’d really been looking forward to. But no matter, it came out this week and it left me completely amazed.

I’m really sad that this arc is over. It was a short arc, as such things go, but by god, Gail Simone did some of her best writing in this arc, especially where Barbara herself as a character is concerned, let alone her father Commissioner Gordon. There are a lot of things that made this issue amazing, such as the art by Daniel Sampere, Steve Wands, Blond and Jonathan Glapion, or the mind-blowing cover by Alex Garner. Everything was pretty much pitch-perfect here.

Batgirl 26Where to start really. Should I start with the Batgirl/Commissioner Gordon team-up, something that I’ve been waiting to see since this series started? Or perhaps Gail’s exploration of Batgirl’s innermost thoughts and her psyche? Perhaps all the fantastic action brought to visual life by Daniel and Co.? Or maybe it is the good Commissioner himself and his characterisation and his dialogue with respect to Batman? Maybe that mind-boggling (in a good way) ending with the villain Knightfall? Or the hit squad that Knightfall sends to take out the Commissioner in his own home? I don’t know. There is so much going on and so much to talk about that if given the opportunity, I’d go on for like three thousand words or something.

This is a fact however: this issue is Gail’s best issue on the series. It is easily comparable to the the two issues with the Ventriloquist, or any of the Death of the Family arc issues. And the main reason why I say it is the best is because of how incredibly character-driven this issue was. Yeah, once Barbara found out that Knightfall had sent a hit squad of some of Batgirl’s biggest villains in this series to kill her father, she was going to intervene, her father’s feelings towards her superhero identity be damned. And yet, as I read her monologue, I could not help but be astounded by how deep it all was. This is the kind of character insight that I expect from all my comics. This has been an excellent year for Gail, with all the work she’s done on Batgirl and The Movement, and for Dynamite’s Red Sonja. Issue after issue she gets down into the nuts and bolts of her characters and lays it bare.

Its what I love about her writing, to be frank. In this issue, Gail very much takes you on a journey with Barbara and the Commissioner. It is an emotional journey, enhanced by the fact that what is shown on the cover does actually happen. It is the most poignant page in the entire issue and certainly my favourite by a long shot. There is an incredible amount of tension in that page, in all the panels, and the artists all do their best work on that page.

Being Batgirl, someone with a family, is not an easy thing to manage, even for someone as smart, intelligent and capable as Barbara. It is something that she struggles with constantly. But this issue gives her a bit of closure on that front, and with the death of her brother as well. That was not something that I expected to see in this issue.

To be perfectly honest, I did miss Fernando Pasarin as penciller on this issue. He’s the one who’s been handling the series for the last few issues, but all the same, Daniel Sampere picks up the pieces quite well on his own. His characters are solidly defined in their look and in their body language. He is definitely a great storyteller, that’s not in doubt. Fernando’s pencils were usually a bit more fluid, but Daniel’s approach isn’t all that inconsistent however. I still enjoyed the hell out of his work, more so given all the details that he packs in each issue. Blond’s colours and Jonathan’s inks seal the deal perfectly on top of all that. If there is any negative of the art, its that at some random times Batgirl is drawn so that she is wearing a full face-cowl. It is somewhat jarring since there is no addressing of that anywhere in the dialogue or the monologue. Its just there, and then gone. Rather weird.

Overall though, I loved this issue. Easily my pick for the best issue of the week, you can be certain of that, if nothing else.

Rating: 9.5/10

More Batgirl: Vol.1, Vol.2, #23, #24.

Posted on December 13, 2013, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

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