The way this issue opens is absolutely awesome. Gail Simone sets a really somber scene and delivers one of the best moments I've read yet in her series. Utilizing Barbara's recovery, she sets the tone and the mood, reflecting on Barbara and the way she processes her emotions after she was first shot by the Joker and through her recovery that followed. It's a really well written series of panels and serves as a great segue into the present, where Barbara is forced to face the Joker and marry him in order to save her Mother.
I think the dialogue here is definitely some of the best I have seen in issues of the BATGIRL series. I loved the depiction of Barbara and the way that Gail really got into the character's head in this issue and dissected her in a way we hadn't really seen before. The story flows in a very natural way, and develops in a way that is really interesting.
It is clear that Barbara still holds some residual fears of the torture that the Joker had put her through and you can see that reflected here in a very eloquent way that doesn't oversaturate the the story. We're not bombarded by what happened to Barbara; it's used instead as an integral part of the plot in a way that really makes sense to the story.
Up until this point I haven't really enjoyed the portrayal of James Gordon Jr., but Gail really does a fantastic job depicting his character here. And although it is clear that James is able to get away by the end of the issue, the cliff hanger at the end alone makes this issue worth picking up.
I am still not the biggest fan of Ed Benes' art style, and I think that if the art were not as bright as it is here, it might better reflect the somber tone of Gail's story. I simply don't think that the style is very complimentary to Simone's writing and that the action sequences are not as well executed. Benes could have provided more detail in these scenes than he did.
Aside from Benes' art, I think this is by far one of the best issues of BATGIRL in all of Gail Simone's run. From the somber reflection we get in the beginning of the issue, to the action packed sequences that follow, to an ending that will leave you at the edge of your seat; Simone knocks it completely out of the park. If you had been disappointed by this series in the past, this issue redeems it by delivering the story I think most Barbara Gordon fans have been waiting to see. Overall, this is definitely a well written, accessible read that is highly recommended.