Batgirl always has a backup plan; that’s a recurring message that this issue is trying to put forward. However, thanks to Cecil Castellucci’s innate understanding of Babs as a character, we get to see how that ethos ties into the character’s history in very subtle ways. There’s an incredible line of narration at the beginning that shows just how resilient Barbara is in the face of every struggle: “Always have a plan in case you’re immobilized. I learned to make sure of that a long time ago.”
Barbara also understands that very few people are simple shades of black and white. Even the most ludicrous villain has a method to their madness, a reason why they feel like this is their only option. And unlike many other heroes in her position, Batgirl genuinely asks them “why?”
The villain’s plan is just the kind of wild mad scientist stuff that could only exist in comics, which is why I kind of love it. Castellucci has spent the last few arcs matching Babs up against larger-than-life villains, rather than the more street-level threats she’s dealt with in a while. This newest villain manages to really work as opposition to Batgirl because she’s motivated by family, something that rings true in Batgirl’s own story.
On the downside of this issue, the first half is taken up by a fight scene. While the fight is visually interesting for the most part, it does get muddied up by a few factors. One is the crackling lightning that’s constantly dancing around in the panels. It’s a cool touch, but it can make the motions of the characters a little difficult to follow. This is especially true with the panel-heavy layout of the issue, which can occasionally make things feel compacted a bit too much.
For instance, there’s a moment when KGBeast is supposedly firing at Batgirl and charging towards her, but we only know this because of Batgirl’s dialogue mentioning that he’s shooting. It’s hard to pick out the actual action of him attacking. This muddiness continues through the rest of the fight, with the resolution being more than a little unclear. Some creatures come out of some goop and are defeated by pushing them back in. Someone is supposed to or not supposed to throw a switch. It ends up feeling like a lot of characters yelling about what they’re supposed to do without actually allowing us to see it being done clearly. As a result, Carmine Di Giandomenico’s normally fluid fight scenes and Jordie Bellaire’s colors end up feeling a bit lost among all of the chaos.
However, aside from the exquisite opening narration, the second half of the issue is where the book really shines. Seeing Barbara and Jason’s tug of war of ideals is always interesting. It does feel like there’s more forward momentum in this instance, though. The dialogue is lovely here, and the final pages set up some very interesting future storylines in regards to both Barbara’s personal and professional life.