Writer: Hope Larson
Artist: Chris Wildgoose & Jon Lam
It’s tough to think that a comic can have aggressively old and new fashioned dialogue in a single line, but then there’s Magpie telling Batgirl, “You ruined my five star rating, and now you’re going to pay!” This is something that occurs time and again in this title. Luckily, it still manages to fall into the realm of being endearing rather than outright cheesiness.
As for the issue itself, it focuses heavily on furthering the question of whether Ethan Cobblepot bears any worrisome similarities to his father, the Penguin. He still manages to seem like a perfectly nice guy. Even the moments that are sort of stuck in there to make him look possibly sinister don’t actually make him look that sinister.
Personally, I would love it if Ethan doesn’t turn out to be the bad guy. I have a feeling the book might go in the other direction, but it would be both refreshing and surprising if he was just the sweet, decent guy he appeared to be at first. Being the child of a villain doesn’t make you a villain—in fact, Marvel has a whole comic series revolving around that concept. And if he does turn out to be a villain, here’s hoping he doesn’t just become a carbon copy of his father. We certainly don’t need two of them running around.
While this issue doesn’t necessarily feel complete on its own—its mostly a bridge to further arcs on the developing storyline rather than having a specific storyline to itself—there are great moments to be had. The Two-Face escape room at the beginning is particularly delightful. Still, as a whole, it left me wanting more. Previous issues have been great at telling a single-issue story that still furthers an ongoing plot, but this one is heavily focused in the latter direction.
Still, the character work is strong. It remains a topical book as well, but manages to address things that many comics still aren’t addressing in ways that feel real and organic. The moment where Alysia talks about being misgendered is great, especially because Larson allowed Barbara to handle the moment badly. Not everyone knows how to support their trans friends all the time and the way that situation unfolded felt incredibly real.
Rafael Albuquerque’s style has defined the current incarnation of the series and it’s impossible to think of Batgirl in its present form without his art, but that doesn’t stop Chris Wildgoose from creating dynamic visuals that fit with the style of the series as a whole. The new design for Magpie is surprising, but certainly fits into the overall style of Batgirl and the different designs of villains we have seen so far.
I would like to see the next issue really delve deep into the characters at the center of this arc. This one addressed some interesting points, but skirted around a few things instead of diving in. Still, there were a few great moments to keep me excited and I remain intrigued to see how this is all going to pan out.
Images courtesy of DC Entertainment