Review: Batgirl #52

Writer: Brenden Fletcher
Penciller: Babs Tarr

It’s interesting for a solo run to end with the hero truly going off on her own, but that’s what makes this incarnation of Batgirl so interesting. It hasn’t just been Barbara’s story. It’s featured a rotating door of guest stars from the amazing heroines of the DC Universe. This issue, appropriately enough, invites them all back for the grand finale. Batgirl teams up with Spoiler, Bluebird and Vixen to rescue the child hostages of Gotham Academy.

Maps even manages to steal the episode with a perfectly timed Batarang moment. Gladius works as a villain, but hasn’t managed to be as interesting throughout this run as most of Batman’s rogues. The threat level of the issue comes across fairly well, though, at least enough to justify the team-up.

Still, the issue brings the run to a close in a good way. There are times when Batgirl has gone overly cute, catering directly to a teen girl audience and catering very specifically, which is fine. That’s perfectly acceptable from a marketing perspective, but there’s something that gets lost when you try to cater one group so specifically: you manage to alienate a lot of people even within that group. That’s why the characters around Batgirl became so interesting. Everyone around her adds to what she represents.

Batgirl has grown into its message, but with all these heroines coming together in the finale, the message has cemented itself as something pretty clear. It’s not about empowerment. Even focusing on all these female heroes, that’s never been the case. It’s about the sharing of power. Batgirl has never been the strongest hero even in her own book. The appeal of Barbara in this incarnation of her story has been her overwhelming sense of normalcy. Her biggest strength, when the book shines, is her intelligence. She is constantly calling in people she knows can fight to help her because unlike so many other heroes with their own books, she always knows when she’s in over her head.

There’s a sense of family and community to Batgirl when it’s on point and most of that comes through in the issue. Admittedly, it feels a lot like Batgirl and Her Amazing Friends. But for a series so focused on being fun and uplifting, that’s not a bad thing. And it tries to provide the needed impact when Barbara leaves at the end, but it just manages to feel somewhat tacked on.

Altogether, it’s a run that’s been fun but hasn’t lived up to what came before it in the way that it should have. There’s still a lot to like in the issue, and it has us curious for Batgirl’s next adventure, wherever it should take her.

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