The newest Batgirls series got off to a good start Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain fully taking over the Batgirl mantle while Barbara Gordon focuses on being Oracle in the post-Fear State world. The chemistry between Barbara, Stephanie, and Cassandra was certainly the highlight of the first issue. With Batgirls right now the only Batman Family title outside of Detective Comics that is examining the state of Gotham City post-Fear State there is a lot of potential for this series. Let’s see how things go next with Batgirls #2.
Writers: Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad
Artist: Jorge Corona
Colorists: Sarah Stern
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The Batgirls (Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown) fight The Saints (a group using Magistrate tech whose members are named Tarsus, Valentine, and Assisi) with Oracle giving them information on their opponents. Seeing that they are only fighting defensively the Batgirls decide to retreat.
The Saints go to Our Lady of Mercy Church where they are given orders to take out the Batgirls by who they believe is Simon Saint but is really Seer.
Later, Barbara, Stephanie, and Cassandra discuss what their next move is. Barbara decides that Stephanie and Cassandra should focus on The Ripper case while she looks further into the Saints, Seer and other things going on in Gotham City.
The Batgirls go to the pier where they find the Hill’s Angels gang working with the police in building a monument.
Back at the warehouse Barbara cuts her phone call with Dick Grayson short as the Batgirls show up to talk about what they found at the pier.
While Barbara goes to make some dinner Stephanie changes and is shown sending a message to Spellbound Gallery.
Over the next day the news has various reports on the Batgirls being blamed for a recent explosion, a new serial killer appearing in Gotham City, and an artist named The Tutor who has done some impressive street art.
The next day Barbara gives Cassandra and Stephanie fake earrings she made for them to use on a daily use that have microspeakers and transponders to make communication easy between them.
Later that night the Batgirls watch their neighbor (Mr. Greene) who they believe is a serial killer. They suddenly hear someone getting their stuff stolen. They stop the thief and are surprised to see the guy with his eyes completely red.
Nearby The Tutor is shown having hypnotized a large group of people and convincing them to rebel against the politicians, doctors, cops, and Batman Family to liberate Gotham City. Stephanie also falls for this hypnotic suggestion as her eyes turn completely red. End of issue.
The Good: Batgirls #2 is a comic book that just gets in the way of its own success. This series has so many great things going for it, which is on display throughout Batgirls #2. Unfortunately the story that we are presented just becomes to unfocused because of how much exposition Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad write for this one issue.
As with the first issue where Batgirls #2 works best is the chemistry between Barbara Gordon, Cassandra Cain, and Stephanie Brown. These three characters have well-defined personalities that makes any time Cloonan and Conrad has them share screen time together where Batgirls #2 shines. The youthful excitement from Cassandra and Stephanie working together as a duo combined with Barbara still learning how to best be a mentor provides a great balance.
It’s good to see that Cloonan and Conrad aren’t afraid to show that Barbara is still learning on the job. She is certainly confident when it comes to doing her normal work as Oracle but being a mentor to two young people is new to her. There is a push and pull when it comes to how Barbara wants to be a stern with Cassandra and Stephanie while also letting them be themselves. Having this type of balance works well for Barbara’s character as it leaves a lot of room for her to grow as a character who is taking on multiple roles right now.
The same goes for Stephanie and Cassandra, who are now getting a chance to embrace being Batgirls after having such undefined roles within the Batman Family. Having Stephanie and Cassandra always sharing screen time allows there them to balance each other out as they are still learning how to work best together. Because while they are best friends they still need to learn how to work together as a duo. That is shown with how they aren’t able to go beyond fighting defensively against The Saints and how Stephanie has a tendency to rush into things. Seeing how they turn the chemistry they have a friends into how they operate as Batgirls will be interesting to see develop.
The multiple threats that the Batgirls are dealing with is a bit overwhelming this early on into the series but does work simply as what Gotham City would be post-Fear State. With Gotham City having gone through both Joker War and Fear State, the city was extremely close to burning down. Actually showing that there is so much instability in the streets of Gotham City that has allowed new villains like The Tutor and The Saints to rise up is an understandable next step. Them individually would be normal threats the Batman Family would take on. But because they are all being active at the same time you can see how even after the Batman Family save the city from the Magistrate that Gotham City is still very unstable right now.
With how many Batman Family titles there are on the market having a distinct art style given by Jorge Corona helps Batgirls stand out. The animated look just works to make the characters just stand out more. Barbara, Stephanie, and Cassandra personalities shine through simply from the way they are drawn. Whether at their apartment or working on the field you get a good sense of their respective characteristics just from how they are drawn.
The Bad: For as much as I enjoyed about Batgirls #2 the quality is held back by just how Cloonan and Conrad just do not get out of their own way with the writing. There is just way too much exposition because we have the plots around Seer, The Saints, The Tutor, and The Ripper everything needed to be explained. At least that is what it felt like as Cloonan and Conrad tried to give a reason for having so many different plotlines happening at the same time as they are trying to build the chemistry between Barbara, Stephanie, and Cassandra.
The writing becomes problematic right from the beginning with how we get constant walls of text from the opening page. Whether its through dialogue, inner monologue boxes, or both just about every panel is stuffed with walls of text. This makes every page so incredibly busy that Cloonan and Conrad’s writing works against the art style by Corona. It all felt like Cloonan and Conrad were compensating for not being able to focus on just one or two plotlines so they had to fill every page with text. This just led to everything going on outside of the character beats for Barbara, Stephanie, and Cassandra to be not as interesting as they potentially could’ve been.
Overall: Batgirls #2 has so many good things going for it that it is unfortunate to see how Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad just get in their own way. This issue is just to busy to make any of the many plotlines it has going on to fully grab your interest. Luckily the chemistry between Barbara Gordon, Stephanie Brown, and Cassandra Cain is strong enough to lift up the series.
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