Last month’s issue of Batgirl caused a bit of controversy. Without going into detail, I wasn’t offended at all and just saw the villain as someone trying to get attention, but I will not dismiss anyone who was offended. LGBT is a sensitive topic and the creators admitted that they didn’t’ give it enough thought when writing Batgirl 37 – you can read their apology here. I didn’t think Batgirl 37 was nearly as good as Batgirl 35 or 36, but I still enjoyed it and I never saw it as DC painting an entire group of people as attention seeking villains. Anyway, let’s review Batgirl 38.
The first 3 issues of Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher’s Batgirl run are fairly light hearted and fun, separating Barbara Gordon from the usually dark Batman Universe. They both played on Barbara’s photographic memory in creative ways and showed her investigative skills. This issue still captures much of the lighter mood, but the story takes a serious look at the downsides of being a vigilante. It explores the very real consequences that the Bat family’s methods of crime fighting can have on average citizens when they’re not careful. For that, the writing in this issue is much smarter than last month’s.
This issue also touches on Barbara’s own subplots even if it doesn’t progress them much. There are her ongoing school problems from the loss of data she suffered and her roommate’s own projects. Most notably, she has a new cop boyfriend who seems like an interesting character, and his negative opinion of Batgirl could make for a fascinating dynamic if he sticks around. Save for a couple lines here and there he’s mostly there to add weight to the main story for this issue, but that’s fine for now.
The art by Babs Tarr is charming. It’s a simple look at first glance, but there’s a lot of background details that help bring the pages to life. The opening page continues a plotline exactly where the last issue ended, with Batgirl embracing social media rather than trying to remain in the shadows in a delightful montage. There are several crowd scenes with a wide variety of ethnicities and body types in the background, and then there are the stickers on Barbara’s roommate’s laptop.
Hopefully the controversy didn’t turn off too many readers, because with Batgirl 38 the series is back on track. The story is well-balanced and has a thoughtful ending. Batgirl regulars should enjoy this issue, and this is a good place to start for those interested in checking her out.