Barbara continues to struggle with balancing her personal life and her duties as Batgirl. Meanwhile, a new conspiracy is brewing in the Gotham underworld!
This new version of the Terrible Trio is interesting. While they at first come off like a wannabe Court of Owls, they quickly reveal themselves to be information brokers. Their entire empire is fueled by blackmail, which is a fun twist on the classic characters (though I wonder what the Trio from Gotham Academy are up to, these days).
It’s also interesting to see the bickering between the Trio. With a group that thrives on leveraging the dark secrets of others, their alliance will likely already be a shaky one. It should be fun to see how their master plans play out, considering they already seem one argument over dinner away from turning on each other.
The other real strength of this issue is how Barbara’s detective skills are handled. This one takes on a bit of a noir vibe, as Barbara’s narration not only shows us how she’s continuing to piece together the conspiracy against her boss, but also giving us an update on how she’s feeling and how she’s handling some of the recent upsets in her life.
Things aren’t going so smoothly for Babs, not that she’d tell her friends and father that. And this is my one qualm with this issue. Batgirl has always been distinct from Batman because of her willingness to embrace her friends and family. She draws strength from knowing that she’s not alone. It’s disheartening, then, to see Babs blaming her alter ego for the problems of her loved ones, as well as not hearing her father out when he tries to make amends with her.
Granted, she’s entirely justified in her anger toward Jim, but it’s a shame that she’s shutting herself off like this, even blowing off her responsibilities to her friends and the company she co-founded. Hopefully, this new story arc will show her reconnecting to that part of herself. As it stands, Babs seems to be losing touch with herself, which is still an interesting story in itself.
Meanwhile, there’s Jason Bard, a character whose change of heart rings somewhat hollow. From love interest to villain to red herring to attempted buddy is a progression that just feels off. This isn’t to say that he cannot be redeemed, but Jason’s characterization has felt all over the map since his reintroduction. It honestly feels like one subplot too many, especially considering this issue intends to introduce new takes on classic Gotham villains.
Still, this was another solid issue. Despite her superheroic angst (or perhaps because of it), Barbara continues to be one of the most relatable characters in the DC Universe. We’ve all been through a time where we felt our sense of self slipping out of our grasp.
At the end of the day, even when she’s blowing off her friends or work, Barbara is trying to do the right thing. She’s just learning that the right thing isn’t always easy to define, which is a feeling that we can all understand.
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