This issue of Batgirl marks two things. One is the end of the arc with James Jr and the second one is the return of Gail Simone to the title after being fired and subsequently unfired from it.
There are several ways to see this issue on so many angles it just fails completely.
One of the most important facts here is that Gail Simone had pushed this story since issue #5 with the return of Barbara Sr and James Jr. However the last 2 issues were written by Ray Fawkes, as a result this entire arc doesnt flow at all.
For example: Chps 17-18 were completely narrated from James Jr's point of view, this issue goes back Barbara's point of view this result into a completely disconnected story.
Another problem of this arc as a whole is that it drifts on subplots that have barely any connection at all with main argument of the story. Last issue had Batgirl fighting a criminal name firebug which at the end of all didnt had anything to do with anything. This issue presents something similar with Barb's roommate Alysia.
Alysia is a character that no one cares at all. The problem with Alysia is that despite being introduced in the very first issue of this comic she has absolutely no presence at all and has had no development at all. She is like a piece of furniture in the background. She has practically no personality and just do nothing.
In this issue we spend the first pages in a flashback with James Jr and Barb seeing a horror movie as kids then we cut to the present where Barb goes to Alysia and have a talk between themselves because of the events of Batgirl #14
There are three major problems with this scene.
The first: Why is this happening now? I can understand that Gail probably planned this for issue 17 and Ray Fawkes didnt carried the thread but it just makes me wonder where the hell has Barb been in the last few days. She lives together with Alysia, how come is this the first time they have talk since?
The second problem is this scene right here.
I think this kind of points out the biggest problem with the Alysia-Barb relationship and is this:
Im not trying to sound harsh but Barbara has No friends at all, Alysia is only her roommate and she knows nothing of her, it is only until now that she tells Alysia that she was in a wheelchair.
It feels like Gail is literally catching up in 3 single pages with a relationship that had been developed in the last 19 issues. Which makes this entire scene insincere and forced
The third problem is the revelation which i wont spoil, but it comes . Which once again the problem comes due to the fact that Gail spend 0 time developing Alysia as a character in the last 19 issues so when its reveal it is really hard to care at all and in fact is even laughable. Its a flat revelation that doesnt have any weight or substance however tries to be emotional. Try replacing the revelation with something cliche like for example "Im gay" "I have Cancer" "Im Pregnant" the scene stays exactly the same.
No emotion. No substance.
The Main Event: James Jr
I think James Jr is one of the most original and terrifying characters presented in the last couple of years. In Black Mirror he has this sinister presence that makes pretty much everything he says into something dark and scary and even when he doesnt speak at all you can see him a a frightening presence. Since the relaunch his backstory in Black Mirror was completely rewritten and the character just wasnt the same but for a moment in the last few issues #17 and #18 he look like he was finally returning to that form.
Not only he didnt return to that form but the James presented in this issue just confirms that him and that eerie character of Snyder's masterpiece will never be the same person.
The biggest and most crippling problem of this entire arc has been . Over the last few arcs he had appeared, he does something that involves the villain of the week and then he leaves without revealing why was he doing that. So this arc and specifically this issue was suppose to be the climax, the final revelation of why is he taking this revenge.
Once again, this is something that Black Mirror already did and being an story as good as that is hard to compete with, so i can can understand if it fail at the simple comparison however the story simply fails on its own too as there is no significant payoff for such a build up.
This right here is the greatest problem with Gail Simone's Batgirl.
Everything has to do with Barbara, everything resolves around her. Everything. Nothing can flow or act or think without her presence for she is the sun and the stars and without her there would be no series at all. It is not because she is the main character. it is because there is absolutely nothing else besides her. Barbara Gordon as a character has reach a completely new level of Mary Sue, and every single arc and every single issue is nothing more than the purest form of masturbation.
The end is frustrating, it provides no payoff for the this arc that has been building for over a year. It is stupid and a complete betrayal of the character of James Jr who had NOTHING to do with Barbara since it was created by Miller over 20 years ago.