Say what you want about the New 52 (i.e. Doctor Manhattan’s fever dream), but most people would agree that Cameron Stewart (w), Brendan Fletcher (w), and Babs Tarr’s (a) Batgirl revamp was a welcome addition.
Unfortunately, this third volume also represents the final chapter for the beloved creative team.
Is it good?
Batgirl Volume 3: Mindfields (DC Comics)
While Barbara Gordon deals with the ins and outs of running her own company, someone with a scary amount of tech begins hacking her brain. Not in like a slasher movie way—they start accessing her neural implant and go full Inception on it.
As you might imagine, this causes some serious problems for Barbara in both her civilian and superhero lives…
…but that’s not what makes “Minefields” a good read. The story is fun (although somewhat predictable), but the real good stuff comes from watching Gordon develop and lead her team of friends/superheroes.
As a light DC reader, I really didn’t care at all about the Spoiler or Bluebird (Black Canary’s always seemed cool, though). By the time this book was over, however, Stewart/Fletcher had me attached to them like a full-fledged fanboy.
And just like the other previous two volumes, Batgirl’s supporting cast is fantastic, particularly Francine. Her role is even more expanded and a great deal more commanding than before—and she’s pretty badass. Thankfully, Francine also continues to have a humanizing effect on Barbara, helping to keep her from walking down the dark and brooding path of so many others in the Bat Family.
Yes, some of the fights are still too easy and oddly sequenced. And yes, the book occasionally gets a little too cute. But the dynamics between Batgirl and the rest of the cast easily outweigh the minor missteps.
There’s also a fantastic no-dialogue story at the end of the book that perfectly shows how Batgirl can be incorporated into dark/twisted storyline (Endgame in this case) while still maintaining her distinctly brighter tone as a character.
Remember those (few) oddly sequenced actions scenes I just referenced a bit ago? Well they still look awesome when they’re being drawn by Babs Tarr. She draws both talking heads scenes and moments of kinetic chaos with the same lush, soul-infused touch that we’ll miss seeing on the title.
Unfortunately, this chapter is host to quite a few fill-in artists. None of them were bad. In fact, they were all pretty good. But the constant change in aesthetics makes for a very uneven look and feel.
All that being said, Tarr & Co. still maintained Batgirl’s status as by far the most beautiful and stylish comics on the shelves.
Is It Good?
Yep, just like it’s always been since Stewart/Tarr took over on the title.
If you’d told me a year ago that Batgirl would be one of my favorite books by now, I’d start wondering how to prevent the apparent stroke and/or aneurysm I was going to have. I’ve never had any interest whatsoever in any members of the Bat Family except for the big guy himself.
I don’t even like Robin!
But after countless people telling me I needed to give the book a shot (and finding out that Babs Tarr was from the same place I live), I finally gave in and starting reading one of my favorite titles that DC Comics has ever published.
“Mindfields” isn’t perfect (like the first volume almost was), but it’s still great. I may not remember the name of any of the villains, but I will definitely miss getting to read this supporting cast.
And of course, Barbara Gordon, aka the Batgirl of Burnside. In a sea of titles that were mired in depressing plotlines and unlikable characters, you stood out as a shining example of a superhero that could be both badass and fun.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!