Batgirls has had a fun start with the first two issues of the series developing multiple plotlines and villains for Barbara Gordon, Stephanie Brown, and Cassandra Cain. The immediate antagonists the Batgirls are tackling are Seer and The Tutor. Given the chaotic state of Gotham City post-Fear State things are primed for these type of villains to cause all type of mayhem as they try to take over. Can the Batgirls stop them? Let’s find out with Batgirls #3.
Writers: Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad
Artist: Jorge Corona
Colorists: Sara Stern and Ivan Plascencia
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The Batgirls (Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown) try to stop Tutor during their speech but with Stephanie falling prey to Tutor’s mind control gas the villain escapes capture.
The Batgirls regroup to meet up with Barbara Gordon. Barbara, Stephanie, and Cassandra work on a plan to infiltrate the upcoming gallery opening that is headlined by artwork from the Tutor. Its decided that Barbara will attend with Stephanie and Cassandra as Batgirls keeping watch.
During the gallery opening Barbara runs into an old friend from Burnside College, who may or may not be an ex-boyfriend. Tutor eventually streams a big speech where he rants about capitalism and how the people in attendance should follow his lead. Barbara tracks Tutor within the ship.
The Batgirls quickly track down Tutor within the ship. Tutor is able to get Stephanie’s Batgirl to fall prey to their mind control. Tutor uses this to their advantage by forcing Cassandra’s Batgirl to be on the defensive to make sure Stephanie isn’t killed. Eventually Tutor use the chaos of the fight to escape.
As Tutor escapes, the Saints trio are shown watching things from near by.
Regrouping at their loft apartment, Cassandra does her best to lift Stephanie’s spirits.
Later, Barbara gets a call from Dick Grayson. As they flirt things turn bad with Dick calling Barbara trash. Barbara immediately recognizes that it is Seer who she is actually talking to. Seer mocks Barbara by having her computer screens filled with images of tortured Nightwing. Seer then says “I’m coming for you, Barbara.” End of issue.
The Good: Now that Tutor has become the main focus Batgirls #3 proved to be the strongest issue of the series thus far. Sure we have Seer and the Saints still running around but focusing on Tutor made things flow much better. By making this choice Becky Cloonan and Michael Conrad are able to focus on the strengths of this series.
Getting Barbara Gordon, Stephanie Brown, and Cassandra Cain to actually work together on the field rather than just the latter two improved things so much more. Cloonan and Conrad were able to play into the dynamic between the three Batgirls to its fullest. This choice helped move Barbara move away from just being Stephanie and Cassandra’s parental figure to more of the big sister, which is a much better angle for their dynamic. It certainly helped how Stephanie and Cassandra kept picking on Barbara for the way she was acting with her old college friend a fun way to mix up the infiltration scene.
Also showing that Barbara, Stephanie, and Cassandra are going into taking on Tutor with a plan works well to all their strengths. Having them map out the gallery opening ahead of time are things that help elevate the threat the Tutor is beyond just his mind control version of the Fear Toxin. It establishes the fact that Tutor isn’t a villain that can simply be defeated with fighting skills. This adds to how Barbara, Stephanie, and Cassandra can make adjustments depending on the villain they are taking on.
This planning also worked to further push how Tutor is such an unknown threat. Even though they clearly weren’t as skilled of a fighter as Cassandra or Stephanie the mind control Fear Gas is what makes them dangerous. Cassandra being forced to keep track of Stephanie so her attacks aren’t turned on her partner was a good way to have Tutor escape without a problem.
It also set-up the sub-plot of Stephanie losing her mojo as she fell prey to Tutor’s mind control and became a liability in the field because of it. Cassandra supporting Stephanie that she shouldn’t let what happened get her down was a good way to show their strong friendship. Hopefully the friendship between the two is what helps Stephanie overcome her current struggle and will make defeating Tutor much more satisfying.
The Seer angle at the end of Batgirls #3 further pushes her to be the main antagonist for the series and Barbara’s personal archenemy. What Seer does here by targeting Barbara’s relationship with Dick Grayson specifically goes to show how this villain is the negative of Oracle. She is falling into that Joker category of reveling in causing max chaos for the hero she is taking on, which in this case is Barbara’s Oracle. The fact that Seer is going after Barbara and not her Oracle or Batgirl identity makes this a much more personal rivalry.
Jorge Corona continues to be a great change of pace that gives fun energy to everything going on with Batgirls #3. Corona gives does a great job presenting both Tutor and Seer as forces of chaos in their own way. They each have an identity that is distinct to their own brand of villainy. Which helps makes when the Batgirls are showing going into action stand out much more in a dynamic way.
The Bad: The only thing that keeps holding Batgirls back from reaching its full potential is that at times the amount of dialogue gets in the way of the artwork. Because of Corona’s more animated art style there are panels and pages that come across as cluttered when there is too much dialogue. Having more than two word balloons on a panel especially makes things feel all over the place. If Cloonan and Conrad can adjust their writing to avoid this cluttered presentation Batgirls will really reach the next level.
Overall: Batgirls #3 does a great job presenting Tutor as menacing force that Barbara Gordon, Stephanie Brown, and Cassandra Cain have to work together to overcome. In the process the dynamic between the three Batgirls is able to shine as the strength of the series. Highlighting that strength made the ending with Seer further push how there are many things to look forward to seeing develop in Batgirls.