Thursday 27th November 2014,
Comic Booked

Death of the Family Event: Batgirl #16

Jeff Hill 01/17/2013 Reviews

Batgirl 16
Gail Simone, Ed Benes

Death of the Family Crossover

Spoiler alert! You have been warned!

Gail Simone needs to go. Right now. Before she ruins this book forever. We get another poorly scripted issue with good art from the team of Simone and Ed Benes, featuring a creepy looking Joker but an uncharacteristically cliché-filled and not funny one as well. This storyline could have been one issue, but instead has been drug out into a seemingly endless storyline full of no twists, no turns, no surprises, and absolutely nothing new whatsoever. And I blame that entirely on the writer and her seeming inability to relate to the title character, her main adversary, and one of my own personal favorite characters who should be easy to write, James Gordon Jr.

Batgirl 16 Picture 2

The story starts off with a strangely labeled “interlude one,” which is not only unnecessary and irrelevant to the rest of the story, but also misleading. You see, there isn’t an “interlude two,” or even another moment where an interlude would make sense. I’m not sure if I can completely place the blame on Simone for that one, but the editors can only do so much with a writer who was just hired and fired and rehired by a company that apparently can’t make (or stick with) the tough decisions. But that argument is neither here nor there. So back to the story and pointing out the specifics of why it almost completely falls flat yet again this month.

The rest of the issue features a bunch of unrealistic dialogue (people simply don’t talk that way, Gail!) and a fight scene where Batgirl beats a bunch of Joker’s thugs up, again, and then loses the upper hand when her brother shows up out of nowhere and betrays her for mysterious reasons, which, of course, we the readers don’t get to know just yet. But the biggest disappointment in this issue does not come from the fact that the shocking revelation of Joker showing Babs the “mystery platter” that he has been showing everyone else in other various Batman books this month, which just seems tacked on for basically no reason at all in this particular storyline. No, I was actually okay with that for the sake of continuity. And again, for those who aren’t okay with it, that’s probably just editorial making decisions and backing up the main Bat title for the sake of telling a bigger story. The main thing that made me angry with this issue was the lack of a decent confrontation between James Jr. and the Joker. Here we have two of the greatest villains, both new and old, of the DC Universe, finally facing off. And the stakes are higher than ever before. And then… Poof! Gail Simone ruins it and literally decides to have a random explosion instead of a fight or a posturing scene or even a battle of wills. I will finish this storyline, but if I am not rewarded for my years of patience with this writer, I will be dropping this book faster than Joker dropped Barbara’s step mom back in No Man’s Land.

My Rating: 2/5

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About The Author

Jeff Hill is a moderately reformed frat boy turned writer/teacher living the dream in Lincoln, Nebraska. He does freelance work and writes fiction, none of which is about corn or the husking of corn. His work has appeared in over a dozen publications and his mom has a binder full of printed copies for any doubters. Plus, he's the Chief Creative Officer of Comic Booked. So that's pretty neat, too.

  1. kcassidy 01/18/2013 at 2:16 pm

    I'll have to disagree with you. I liked this issue a lot and have been liking the title, a lot. Now that being said, I have been a long-time Batgirl fan (mostly in the Babs incarnation) and find her as the first character who started as a sidekick but matured to be a hero in her own right. (Dick becoming Robin and then Nightwing came after Babs stepped up first – Teen Titans doesn't count as he still never matured into his own hero.) Yes, this issue was somewhat choppy, but I like the direction Simone has been taking her in. I was not impressed with the latter half of the book as the art was meh (it was not Benes who did the second half) and that did take away from me. But I can see how difficult it must be for all of the writers trying to work Joker properly into the story when he's in 5-8 titles in parallel! I agree, bad editing had something to do with it here, but I think they made the arc's scope too grandiose and Babs got shuffled to the back of the deck. And yet, apart from Batman and Jason Todd, she should be the next most obvious character to go after the Joker.

    • jeffhillwriter 01/19/2013 at 12:40 am

      Batgirl is and will always remain my favorite female comic character. And I think maybe I'm just holding her to a higher standard than I should. I know Simone is capable of good writing (at least good dialogue), but this book just seemed rushed and mediocre at best. I remain disappointed, but am glad that you are enjoying the book!

  2. Scorp_Moonopoly 01/18/2013 at 9:21 pm

    I guess the platter thing is going across every book.

    • jeffhillwriter 01/19/2013 at 12:37 am

      I actually kind of like the idea, for the sake of continuity… I just thought the whole book seemed rushed and that ending just really added to that feeling.

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