Comic Vine Review


Batgirl #17 - Endure the Flame


Barbara and her father face one of their biggest threats: James Gordon Jr.

The Good

While this is no 'Black Mirror,' this issue of BATGIRL is still a fantastic look at James Gordon Jr. Beyond that, though, this is just a great Barbara Gordon 'Batgirl' story. The issue opens with Barbara Gordon seated and deep in her paperwork. We discover that she is sleeping very little and is doing her best to help her father and the GCPD track down suspects associated with the Joker and the events that transpired in 'Death of the Family.' First, it's great to see Barbara behind a desk. Dure, it's great to see her don the cape and cowl and patrol the streets, but any reminder of her days as the Oracle and any focus on the fact that she's got smarts is always fun to see.

The story is really gritty and also really well written. The way the issue is set up to deal with James Gordon Jr. and to involve all of Barbara Gordon's family is fantastic: it is definitely something that I felt was important to the story. Ever since this series started and since we saw the Black Mirror story arc play out last year, we haven't seen the entire family working collectively. Here we have everyone involved: Barbara, James Gordon, Barbara's Mother -- all these characters are dealing with James Gordon Jr. and the result we have here is a rather interesting story.

Like I said, it's a gritty, dark story but it is also one that paints Barbara as a really strong character. Her dialogue is strong and makes her seem intelligent and interesting, which is such a huge aspect of who she is. It's great to also see her feeding Commissioner Gordon vital information leading to the search and discovery of individuals who should be behind bars.

One of the more interesting things about this issue is the way that Fawkes writes James Gordon Jr. It almost feels as though he is crafting Barbara's brother out to be Barbara's own Joker. He exists for similar reasons that the Joker exists for Batman. Not only is this cool because it provides Barbara with an interesting and menacing opponent, but it makes her character appear more interesting.

The Bad

Things were getting pretty interesting up until the part where Firebug appeared, then the story sort of took a strange turn. It's hard to take the character seriously and I almost would have liked it better if the story had remained on the narrow path leading to James Gordon Jr. Either way, this is likely not the last time we've seen Gordon Jr. so it will be interesting to see when and how he resurfaces to torment Barbara.

The Verdict

Overall the art was great. The pencils were definitely gritty, something that complimented the nature of the story Fawkes was trying to tell. It would have bene nice if the colors hadn't been so bright and instead used heavier inks. I think that would have complimented this story a bit more.

This is a much darker Batgirl story and one of, dare I say, the most interesting I have read throughout this series. Like I mentioned above, the focus on the relationship between Barbara's family and Barbara's brother is really great. I want to see more of that and I hope that DC intends to mold Barbara's brother to be her very own personal Joker. I think that if written well, James Gordon Jr. can be incredibly menacing and that will certainly give creators a chance to demonstrate how Barbara can step up her game.