Its a new era for Batgirl as Mairghread Scott is the new writer for Barbara Gordon’s ongoing superhero adventures. Scott takes over Batgirl after Hope Larson had a successful, and overlooked, run on this series. Now I’m not very familiar with Scott’s previous work so I’m not sure what to expect from her work. Though what she did with her segment in Batgirl #25 did show that she has a good understanding of who Barbara Gordon and Batgirl are. Now let’s see if she can take what she established with the Grotesque plotline for a full story arc. Let’s find that out right now with Batgirl #26.
Writer: Mairghread Scott
Artist: Paul Pelletier
Inker: Norm Rapmund
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Batgirl navigates through Burnsides intense traffic while trying to chase down Grotesque, who has been killing and mutilating people to look like famous works of art. Batgirl takes this personally as she knows what it is like to be someone’s sick little art project (Batman: Killing Joke).
As the chase continues Batgirl remembers how her dad would take her to art museums and while she didn’t become an artist she has always looked for the beauty and good in things.
Grotesque enters a luxury apartment building. There she is able to keep him from killing a security guard. As they fight Grotesque is able to shock Batgirl with a taser in the back where the chip that connects her brain to her spine. Batgirl is barely able to stand, giving Grotesque an opening to escape through the elevator. Batgirl tries to go after him but starts losing consciousness when trying to open the elevator.
The next thing Batgirl knows is she is thrown out a window from the top floor of a building. Batgirl is able to slow her descent with her grapple gun to safely land in the river.
Batgirl is able to swim out as her chip implant rebooted as soon as she landed in the water.
As she gets on her motorcycle Batgirl tries to remember what happened with her fight against Grotesque but it is all a blur. All she is able to remember is seeing unknown blueprints, an armory and several art pieces.
She makes it back to the building she was thrown out of and sees firefighters battling a raging fire consuming the building.
Sometime later Barbara heads to the GCPD to meet her dad. She convinces the front desk to let her wait inside for her dad.
With only one other person in the Major Crimes Unit office Barbara tries to get some information on the Grotesque case from one of the computers. One of the detectives spots Barbara and she plays up how she was just waiting for her dad and her tech knowledge so she can hide the flash drive she downloaded information onto.
Commissioner Gordon shows up to tells the detective about how Barbara is far past him in terms of tech skills. Barbara suddenly starts feeling light headed. She ends up passing out with her father greatly concerned for what is going with his daughter. End of issue.
The Good: Batgirl #26 is a good tone setter for what Mairghread Scott is planning to do with Barbara Gordon’s character. Throughout the issue she is able to show what kind of character Batgirl’s corner of Gotham City, Burnside, has. Though not everything ends up landing as intended with several problems that kept the story back from reaching its full potential.
The strength of Scott’s first full issue of Batgirl was her strong understanding of who Barbara Gordon is in and out of her costume. As Batgirl, Barbara uses her mind more than anything else. She has great trust in her ability to outthink the room. That is a strength of her character that can also be Barbara’s greatest weakness. That is something that is proven with how her motorcycle chase and fight with Grotesque went down.
Throughout this long sequence with Grotesque we saw that Barbara could not get out of her own head to keep focus on what was ahead. This made Grotesque to come off as a viable threat to add to Batgirl’s own rogues gallery. During the course of the chase and fight we get to see how dangerous Grotesque is with how he evades all of Batgirl’s best efforts. Scott adds more heat to Grotesque as a villain with how he views the mutilation of those he kills as an art form. With that it gives the reader even more incentive to want to see Grotesque brought to justice.
Adding to the mystery of what Grotesque is planning was whatever happened to Batgirl from the time she was put into a haze to when she was thrown out the window of a building. The brief flashes of what Batgril did during this time makes you also question what Grotesque learned as well. Because one of the things we saw “Babs Bedroom” and an image of Batman in those flashes of what Batgirl did. What exactly that all means for Grotesque plot is adds to the mystery of his greater plot.
With how the Grotesque case went Scott did a good job segwaying into Barbara going to visit her father at the GCPD. We haven’t seen Barbara interact with the GCPD very often since she became Batgirl again so this was a good reminder of her history there. The setting felt like a natural place for Barbara to be as she had people there she was friendly with that did not come off as forced. The way Barbara interact with everyone and what Commissioner Gordon said about the GCPD computer systems it would be interesting to see Barbara work their part time, something Scott implies may happen through specific dialogue choices.
The ending of Batgirl #26 does provide an interesting hook as we see Barbara’s chip implant in her spine stop working. This development creates a scenario where Barbara will have to be more creative in how she deals with if she is unable to rely on working as Batgirl to take downGrotesque. If that is the case we could see a greater spotlight on Barbara’s detective skills and provide the opening for her to work closely with the GCPD, as previously mentioned.
Paul Pelletier delivers great, consistent artwork throughout Batgirl #26. The opening motorcycle chase sequence has a great sense of motion as Batgirl has to carefully avoid all the traffic while keeping Grotesque within arms reach. That sequence transitioned well into the fight between Batgirl and Grotesque as it was all choreographed very well to show their respective fighting styles. Pelletier also did a good job with the talking head scenes with the facial reactions matching the various characters dialogue.
The Bad: Though Batgirl #26 is an enjoyable start to Scott’s run on this series it was not without its problems. One of the things that kept Batgirl #26 is how dialogue heavy this issue is. There aren’t very many panels in this issue where we have don’t have some form of dialogue or thought boxes. It would’ve made the story stronger if there were times were the artwork drove the story forward rather.
That was specifically the case with what happens to Batgirl when she was slipping in and out of consciousness. It would’ve been much more effective if we just saw the brief flashes of what Batgirl did and then didn’t see her realize anything until she regained consciousness when she was falling out the building. That way we would question even more what happened during this time as Batgirl was not in control of herself.
Barbara’s sudden history with art did come off as a forced connection to make Grotesque plot personal for her. The flashback just seemed like a last minute connection to give Batgirl more motivation rather than being a natural part of the story. That is especially the case with how Batgirl mentions how she felt about being treated as a “piece of art” by Joker when comparing herself to those Grotesque was mutilating in the name of “art.” This mention was more than enough motivation for Batgirl to drive the story forward.
It was also odd that Scott tried to paint Commissioner Gordon as an old man that barely knows how to work email. This was a minor dialogue addition but it wasn’t that long ago that Commissioner Gordon was working as an Iron Man-esque Batman. This also goes against how since the New 52-reboot DC has made an effort to de-age Commissioner Gordon so he is more of a contemporary for Batman and not the old man he was in the pre-Flashpoint DCU continuity.
Overall: Batgirl #26 is a solid beginning for Mairghread Scott creative run on this series. Scott does a good job creating a compelling villain in the form of Grotesque for her first story arc. What the villain does in this issue along with the hook ending as Batgirl’s chip implant shorts out creates interest in what happens next. Adding in Paul Pelletier great artwork made Scott’s story even better, especially in the few areas where the story ran into some problems. If your a Batgirl fan this issue will be a satisfying continuation of her adventures and a good entry point for those who weren’t previously reading this series.