Batman and Batgirl #21 continues to deal with the aftermath of Damian’s death and, like the rest of the Bat-family before her, it’s time for Barbara to pay a visit to Bruce, but does her visit bring anything worth reading?
The Bargain sees Batgirl dealing with the burden of her own personal problems while also trying to help Batman deal with Damian’s death. With their relationship strained after the events of Death of the Family, Barbara is forced to chase Bruce throughout Gotham by tracking his path of unhinged justice. What she sees when she catches up to him, leads her to finally confront Batman about his increasingly destructive actions.
“You scared me, Bruce[…]” Batman’s aggression continues escalate. This issue starts with action and almost never lets off. Bruce is on a warpath against crime, and it’s even noted by Barbara that everyone in Gotham thinks he’s out of control, and with good reason. Tomasi is clearly having a blast writing a very violent Batman, who even gets a moment to put Harvey Bullock in his place.
“Thanks for listening, Dad.” This issue is very Batgirl-centric. While this may, initially, seem like a plus to those that felt Red Robin and Red Hood were missing in the previous issues, B&B 21 quickly begins to feel like a Batgirl issue and gets bogged down with some question-raising dialogue. It covers a lot of events that, unless you are reading the Batgirl series, you might not get. Why did she remove her Bat-symbol? She killed James Jr.? If so, why is Gordon so calm? Also as a minor gripe, where’s Carrie Kelly?
“I’d call that a bargain, the best you’re going to have tonight, Paulie.” Batman’s journey through The Five Stages of Loss and Grief continues on in this issue with stage three, bargaining. The Bargain may be the title of the story, but it seems Tomasi had a difficult time really demonstrating it. The best we get is Batman making a deal to trade himself for some hostages. I understand that it is supposed to be symbolic of him being willing to trade his life for Damian’s, but it comes off rather flat. Add to this the fact that Batgirl makes an offer to actually become the new Robin, and you have, once again, what seems to be the wrong person being the feature of the story.
Batman and Batgirl #21 was a strange issue to say the least. I have been following the series for a while and yet, with Batgirl being the focus, I somehow felt like I have missed some issues. I am normally a fan of Tomasi’s writing, but I feel like there was some pacing issues, and some of the dialogue just seemed off. The action was solid as always, and while the art was fine, Gleason’s absence was certainly felt. Hopefully Catwoman’s visit to Batman in the next issue can pull him out of his Depression.