Batgirl’s new creative team drops her right into the fight of her life against … Killer Moth?!
Including the Terrible Trio in this issue is a great choice on the part of new series writer Cecil Castellucci. Since they were the main villains of the Mairghread Scott’s final arc on Batgirl, it makes sense to bring them in as a menacing bridge to the next phase of Babs’ life. We even get to see how expendable their members really are, since they’re able to almost immediately hire a new Shark. It’s an almost comedic moment when they remind Shark of the fact that he’s just the muscle, but it’s chilling when we remember just how horrific the original Shark’s final moments were.
The fight between Killer Moth and Batgirl is beautifully drawn by Carmine Di Giandomenico. There’s a lightness to Babs we haven’t seen in a while in not only her poses and facial expressions, but in her general demeanor during the battle. Between the malfunction of her spinal implant and her general aggression in recent issues, it’s been a minute since Barbara has seemed to actually enjoy fighting crime. Her narration is funny and sarcastic, which makes the fact that she’s fighting a villain she’s put down dozens of times (and her surprise as his new capabilities) even more apparent. The illustrations bring home the idea that Barbara has found a new peace with herself.
The acrobatic fight in the air is really exciting, as are the designs for Moth’s different gadgets. The sequence in which the ground crumbles and Barbara loses her footing uses perspective in interesting ways, with Killer Moth looking more triumphant than he has in his entire career and Barbara’s descent bleeding out of the panel and into the white space. It’s a very effective moment.
As always, Jordie Bellaire’s colors make every panel pop, particularly in the first few panels of Batgirl chasing Killer Moth, with the two of them standing out in colorful contrast against the city backdrop.
This issue also picks up the threads of Jason Bard’s reform and kind of makes him adorable. I’m still so surprised by this change in character, but it really doesn’t feel like an act. I can’t imagine how Babs will respond when she starts to understand how Jason feels, but this issue does a good job of showing how much he has surprised himself with the way he feels.
What works against this issue is honestly its status as a tie-in to Year of the Villain. These scenes aren’t bad by any means, but I’d imagine they’re a little harder to follow for anyone who hasn’t been following along with that event. The result is that we get a lot of foreshadowing and check-ins with at least one character who may or may not have a strong presence in this particular book going forward, at the expense of it feeling like we spend very little time with our lead character in comparison.
This isn’t necessarily a failing of the new creative team. It’s just kind of a shame that they had to begin their run with a tie-in issue. It almost feels like we’ll have to wait until after Year of the Villain to see their true intentions for this character and her supporting cast. In the meantime, however, this issue is still a strong start that shows a firm grasp on Batgirl’s identity.