BATGIRL #25 / Writer: Mairghread Scott, Marguerite Bennett, Paul Dini / Penciler: Tom Derenick, Dan Panosian, Paul Pelletier, Emanuela Lupacchino / Inker: Sean Parsons, Norm Rapmund, Ray McCarthy / Colorist: Stephen Downer, Jordie Bellaire / Letterer: Deron Bennett / Cover: Rafael Albuquerque / Published August 15th, 2018
Batgirl #25 is an over-sized anniversary issue with four stories of Batgirl dealing with loss, love, a new threat striking at the wealthy elite of Burnside, and an unusual hostage situation. It’s a milestone for the Burnside hero that gathers top talents from DC Comics.
First, Batgirl secretly attends the funeral of someone she once saved causing her to reflect on her actions at the time. The second chapter is Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson in a hotel room together discussing their future lives and the possibilities of love and relationships. Third, Batgirl investigates the “artist” who calls himself Grotesque, who breaks into people’s home, creating gruesome tableaus of their bodies. The final story has Batgirl dealing with an unusual hostage situation at a party where things are not what they seem.
Mairghread Scott wrote the first and third chapters. First, is an emotional and insightful story with Batgirl struggling to deal with the loss of someone she saved. It’s less about Batgirl beating up the bad guys and more about Barbara dealing with her role, potentially, in this man’s death. Scott askes the question of how safe are you after a Bat has crossed your path? The Grotesque investigation shows Batgirl’s detective and crime-fighting skills. I liked following her through the investigation. Her previous Burnside villains have been less of the psycho killer type, so this should provide a different challenge for her. I like the direction that Scott is taking Batgirl, there is an openness and a vulnerability but she’s not weak.
Marguerite Bennett and Paul Dini wrote the other two portions. Bennett’s story is a very human look at these characters that have dealt with a lot and can be very unsure about what the future will hold for them. It’s a very satisfying story of two people, no costumes, no life or death threats, just two friends helping each other. Dini’s story begins very much as we expect a superhero story to go, but quickly changes gears and becomes a story of how March Harriett turned to a life of crime. Dini balances making the villain likable while also reminding us that she is dangerous.
Each story in Batgirl #25 has a different art team. The first with Tom Derenick’s pencils, Sean Parsons inks, and Stephen Downer’s colors is my least favorite of the four. It’s not bad, but it’s a mostly unremarkable visual look. Very much what we expect from DC. The ink and colors create good shadows and muted colors for the funeral scenes, contrasted with the school rescue. Dan Panosian’s art in the second story is the most stylized. Since it’s primarily just close-ups of Barbara and Dick talking, he does a good job of visualizing their thoughts and emotions. Jordie Bellaire’s colors give it the look of a romantic hotel room lit by firelight. They both do a good job of keeping it visually interesting when it’s really just the two of them sitting on the bed and talking.
I really liked Paul Pelletier’s pencil work in the Grotesque portion, his design on Batgirl is good and the fight between her and Grotesque is short but brutal. Norm Rapmund’s inks and Bellaire’s colors work well together, first as Batgirl investigates the dark house and then as everything is revealed in the firelight. Lastly, Emanuela Lupacchino’s style is very fun and fits the March Harriett story well, although the layouts make the action a little hard to follow. I wasn’t always sure of who was hitting whom, but her character work is fantastic. Ray McCarthy’s Inks and Bellaire’s colors work well, I especially liked the subtle change in lighting and tone in the flashback panels.
Batgirl #25 is a celebration of everything that makes the character unique among the Bat family, her different approach to crime fighting, the differences between Gotham and Burnside, and Barbara herself. I really liked the four different looks at Batgirl, what she does and how the superhero life affects her. I’m intrigued to see more of the hunt for Grotesque and where that will lead her in the next issue.
VERDICT 4 out of 5
Opinionated geek and writer born in the desert, raised on the beach, and now living in the mountains, Paul is a lifelong nerd who loves Star Wars, costuming, comic books, and all manner of geeky things.