Last month Batgirls began the final arc in its run. The focus this time is on The Hill and the community that resides there as they react to a shocking sniper attack and rally to protect those they care about.
This issue takes all that and builds on it, bringing together much of the cast Cloonan and Conrad have created through this series. The majority of the issue is focused on the Batgirl’s investigation into the sniper, in addition to the steps they take to attempt to mitigate their threats. The rest of it jumps back to looking at Grace and how she’s taking the shooting of her producer and friend, Roky and how Grace is choosing to respond to the sniper’s threats too.
Grace is an interesting character, not only in this issue, but the series as well. She’s frequently been used as the voice of Gotham’s people, with her podcast running through each issue, ebbing and flowing with the way Gotham and the people of The Hill view the Batgirls, the GCPD, and Gotham as a whole. In these last couple issues she’s felt more defined than just her podcast persona, as she reels from Roky being shot and the natural fear that comes with your life being upturned by an attack so close to home. She’s grown on me over the series, from someone who felt a little too much like a loudspeaker to a character herself, and I’m glad to see her highlighted in this last arc.
She also embodies the idea of someone wanting to defend the Batgirls, and someone on the verge of making a really bad decision, as the narrative keeps framing her in a way that wants readers to assume she’s going to snap and shoot someone. In the last issue she’s seen buying a gun, and this one loading it. Each of these moments, and others, are framed around other moments highlighting the sniper themselves. It feels jarring compared to how she’s frequently painted as a champion of justice in her own right, running her podcast and leaking information to the public. I can see how the situation has shaken her up, but there’s something about the way her reactions are presented that isn’t connecting with me. I feel like the framing or her reaction needs more time in the narrative to come off as realistic, instead of veering wildly from one emotion to the next.
There’s a larger feeling that the narrative is broken in this issue as a whole. Outside of Grace’s portions needing more connective tissue and substance, the issue feels rushed. This one opens with the Batgirls suddenly at an old hideout for The Saints, with Barbara almost convinced that it’s one of the members behind the shootings. At the same time, they’re meeting up with their GCPD contact to swap clues, then talking with Batman about going into hiding and fighting the sniper. Scenes jump around in time frequently like this, moving from one key moment to another without much breathing room or space to connect them. It’s not that they’re confusing, the flow of the narrative simply feels choppy, like there’s too much story and not enough time so the team cut out everything that isn’t vital. You can feel the rushed nature of that as the story clips from clandestine meeting to attempted bank robbery to heartfelt talks over ramen.
This feeling is compounded by characters feeling out of place. I complained last issue about the absence of Barbara, and while I did miss her, I’d also accepted that this would be Steph and Cass’ adventure. Here she’s suddenly back with Steph and Cass, in uniform, and investigating rather than just talking to them over their communication set up. It feels like we missed a scene where she insisted on coming back to physically give everyone a hand due to how dire the situation is, rather than just directing them. Similarly, Batman shows up, not to really help but to talk to the girls. It ruins the idea that the Batgirls are on their own dealing with this situation to suddenly have Batman in person and close by. Worse than that, he’s there and doesn’t help at all beyond giving them a pep talk. He’s Batman, if he’s going to show up he should help. It’s like reminding readers that people could call Superman at any time to show up and help too, it pops the bubble created around the world and breaks the tension.
The art feels equally inconsistent. The opening pages have some moments where the perspective feels off. There’s a particularly tight corner in one panel where four characters are talking, investigating, and moving down stairs, and everyone looks roughly like they’ve been squished together, rather than set in the right perspective. The first few pages have a lot of this busyness going on. They also feel too dark, I totally missed Cass in the background of the first few pages until she’s brought into better focus later in a shot featuring all three Batgirls.
It gets better as the story moves into the rest of the narrative, with the color’s brightening and the scenes feeling more open and filled with action. The creative team does a really good job making Cass an actual shadow as she’s sneaking around while foiling a bank robbery, with the panels feeling just the right amount of tight and Cass lit perfectly by some nice shading and the pop pop of a gun firing in her direction.
The issue ends on a tense note, with the narrative building towards the shooter possibly attacking again. Again, the turn at the end feels a little fast, like the story just needed to get everyone in place for the big finale. It does need to get them there, which I understand, and hopefully everything comes together well in the last issue.
- Cass getting to show off her sneaking skills is cool
- You wanted to see all the Batgirls together again
- Grace O’Halloran is your podcast MVP of choice
This issue continues the narrative started in the last, but it feels rough around the edges. It explores themes of what it means to protect the place and people you care about, particularly through Grace herself. However, it also gets a little lost in trying to tie up loose ends by rushing the story, and peppering in characters who probably didn’t need to make an appearance. All that comes together to make the read rocky, and not as smooth of a turn into the finale as I’d like it to be.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.