Thus far Marghread Scott has had a good start to her run on Batgirl. She has done a good job balancing Barbara Gordon’s superhero and normal day-to-day life. The mystery around Grotesque has become even more complicated as now we have the Dark Web involved in the plot. The Dark Web is an intriguing concept to add to this story. And given what happened in the last issue Scott has added a new layer as Grotesque was mysteriously killed right in the middle of this arc. What this means for what has been going on with Batgirl is anyone’s guess. Let’s see if we can get some new information with Batgirl #28.
Writer: Mairghread Scott
Artist: Paul Pelletier
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At Phillipe Rianne’s apartment Detective Douglas of the GCPD tell Batgirl she is under arrest for killing Phillipe, also known as Grotesque. Batgirl says she didn’t do it. When the cops try to arrest her she fights back and quickly leaves the apartment by swinging away.
While swinging away Batgirl says with Nightwing out of commission it will be up to her to stop the Dark Web alone now that they are attacking Gotham City.
Back at Grotesque’s apartment one of the cops doubts that Batgirl would kill but Detective Douglas reminds him how Batgirl has been acting odd lately.
Once Detective Douglas is alone in the apartment Wyrm appears and congratulates the detective on his acting while the illusion of the crime scene disappears around them. Wyrm decides to give Detective Douglas a treat for his addiction.
The apartment is suddenly transformed into a clean room. There Detective Douglas apologizes to a woman that he was in love with that Wyrm materializes. While making small talk the two embrace.
Somewhere in Gotham City Batgirl ends up stumbling on a rooftop. Batgirl decides to call it a night as she realizes she is pushing herself to hard.
Back home Barbara is confronted by her dad about how she is sneaking out like a teenager when she is supposed to be taking it easy. Jim says he cares too much about Barbara to see her push herself to far. Barbara says that her dad taught her not to give up and continue working to take the next step no matter how hard it is.
Jim apologizes and says he just wishes he was a better dad as he has been just thinking of the things taken from Barbara even with all she’s accomplished. Jim says he loves Barbara. They hug and he tells Barbara she will always be worthwhile to him.
Jim then tells Barbara to promise him to stay in. Barbara wonders where he is going. Jim says he is going to a go help the GCPD guard an art exhibit opening at the museum to show they are able to protect the city. Barbara jokes that she thought her dad was above doing the politics thing.
After a few hours alone in her room Barbara gets restless and decides to monitor the art exhibit in case something happens.
At the Clock Tower Batgirl figures that Wyrm must of created a hologram to make it look like she killed Grotesque. Batgirl believes that this means Wyrm must of hacked into the GCPD computers.
While taking a look at the hard drive she downloaded earlier Batgirl notices that Wyrm seems to be targeting the exhibit. When she digs in deeper she finds the statue that was at her penthouse fight with Grotesque. Batgirl realizes that she stole the actual art pieces for Grotesque and that the GCPD are guarding fakes. She then deduces that Grotesque did all this to stage a massacre.
Batgirl rushes to get to the art exhibit on her motorcycle. While riding over there she thinks how the plan is to intricate to be planned from an outsider making her believe there was a person working on it from the inside.
At the art exhibit while Commissioner Gordon is making small talk with Judge Ruiz they are interrupted by Detective Douglas. From a reflection in a glass container we see that Detective Douglas is the new Grotesque. End of issue.
The Good: Batgirl #28 is another solid chapter in the first story arc by Mairghread Scott. The star of the show continues to be Batgirl and how she has to overcome so many different threats. That said, Batgirl #28 does stumbles when it comes the transition of who the main villains of the story are.
The strength of Batgirl #28 is how Scott writes Barbara Gordon. Throughout this issue Barbara does not lose confidence in herself even with her spinal implant keeping her from being 100%. That confidence made Barbara impatience come off stronger because it emphasize how far she’ll push herself to save the day. Having that determination makes it easier to root for Barbara as she springs into action as Batgirl.
Barbara constantly wanting to save the day even though she wasn’t at 100% also made the scene with her father Jim Gordon stronger. Scott showed how Jim did not like being hard on his daughter but knew he had to. Having been there to see all the ups and downs of his daughter’s life has made Jim be extremely concern about her. This all made Jim’s dialogue come off as a true show of concern from a father and not someone trying to hold Barbara back for no reason.
Through this scene Scott did a good job showing Barbara understands where her father is coming from. With how Barbara is constantly thinking about what to do next she needs someone like Jim that can slow her down and think of the present. Establishing Barbara and Jim’s relationship in this way creates intrigue in how Scott will now evolve their relationship moving forward.
The shift to have Wyrm and the Dark Web as the major antagonist that Batgirl goes up against was a great choice. The Dark Web fits in much better as a threat for Batgirl to take on rather than Nightwing. The Dark Web already has credibility with how they can use their hologram technology to take on anyone that opposes them. On top of that thanks to their impressive hacking skills they can test Batgirl in a way only Calculator has been able to do in the past.
Paul Pelletier continues to deliver impressive artwork with his work on Batgirl #28. Throughout this issue Pelletier does a great job in helping establish the various struggles Barbara Gordon is going through. From her spinal implant making her stumble at certain points as Batgirl to the emotion in Barbara and Jim’s faces during their sit down talk it was all executed extremely well. The transition between all the scenes also built excitement for what will come next in the story even when some story beats did not necessarily hit like they intended to.
The Bad: The transition from Grotesque to the Dark Web was the thing that held Batgirl #28 back the most. Because just as Scott was building momentum for the original Grotesque she pulls the rug right from under him. It makes previous issues feel like they were stalling for time until Nightwing wrapped up its Dark Web story arc. And as soon as that happened Scott pulled the trigger and made Grotesque’s development into a strong threat feel like a waste. It would’ve been better if we started out with Batgirl #28 and have had the Dark Web the real antagonist this entire time.
The Dark Web’s transition to antagonist in Batgirl #28 is not helped by the fact that Detective Douglas was a lackluster character. There is zero connection to Detective Douglas since he was a background character up until this point. Without Scott dedicating some time to Detective Douglas background in previous issues his sudden emotional instability does not hit as it should. Which is a shame because there was a whole page dedicated to what should’ve been a scene that connected Detective Douglas to the reader but it didn’t.
Detective Douglas becoming the new Grotesque was also an odd choice. Grotesque is a name that has yet to fully get over as an identity worth continuing after the original’s death. And with Detective Douglas not having the proper development as is him becoming Grotesque came off as a lame attempt to push the idea of him being an intimidating villain. The lack of creativity in the way the Grotesque identity was used hurt the overall impact of Batgirl #28’s ending.
Overall: Batgirl #28 had all the ingredients to be a strong issue. Unfortunately Batgirl #28 does not handle the transition of who the main antagonist properly. The failure in the execution in this part of the story hurt the overall impact that Scott was looking to have in this issue. Luckily Scott’s writing of Barbara Gordon and Paul Pelletier artwork lifts Batgirl #28 up even when the main story stumbles over itself.