Since writers Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and artist Babs Tarr took over Batgirl, it’s taken on a much lighter tone. It’s a fun book, yet one that uses all of Barbara Gordon’s talents while not ignoring her shortcomings. The last issue ended with a huge cliffhanger, that all of her recent struggles in Burnside were orchestrated by an algorithm based on her own brainwave patterns.
The algorithm is planning extreme ways to deal with crime in Gotham City; to kill anyone who might even accidentally support a criminal in the future. The fact that Barbara is struggling against an evil AI version of herself makes this concluding issue all the more intense. More important than her fighting skill, she must use her brain to stop the algorithm from hacking weaponized satellites. Besides the main situation, several conflicts are resolved between Barbara’s friends and the last panel hints at future story arcs.
The art matches the comic’s mood perfectly, with an overall colourful look. When the algorithm speaks to Barbara, it assumes the look of her face with her older Batgirl outfit. After it starts glitching and hacking into concert monitors, it takes on a more monstrous look. There’s a lot of environmental detail, whether it’s the balloons and the varied crowd at Black Canery’s concert or the algorithm’s hacked lair, complete with all sorts of wires and computers lying around.
I enjoyed Gail Simone’s dark Batgirl run and maybe even preferred it over Stewart and Fletcher’s new take, but so far, their run is delightful. Whether you want to check out some of Batman’s supporting characters or you want a book in the franchise that’s not so dark, do yourself a favour and check this series out.
Because Batgirl: Endgame (written by Steward and Fletcher) also released today and is mostly told through the art, I’ll give it a brief review. The art, by Bengal, carries a similar tone to Tarr’s art with smart use of phone screens and text symbols to emphasize Barbara’s skill with computers. That said, this is much darker than the main Batgirl series considering the situation in Batman’s Endgame. The environmental destruction and the crowds of people infected with the Joker’s virus really nails that point home. My only complaint (and this is minor) is that Batgirl seems to smile on a few occasions where she probably wouldn’t. This is a good story where Batgirl helps with evacuating the affected area of town, showing her ingenuity and giving her current roommate a brief yet welcome cameo. This is at least worth a look if you’re reading Batman: Endgame, and same goes for those reading Batgirl.