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Batgirl #5 - A Candy Full of Spiders

3

Who is Barbara Gordon's Mother and how will Babs react to her surprise encounter?

The Good

So you missed out on the first issue of Batgirl and you didn't pick up the new series? If that's the case then this issue is exactly where you should start. Issue #5 of BATGIRL is the launch of an all-new story arc and serves as the introduction of a brand new adversary: Gretel. Who is this adversary with more multi-colored wigs than Nicki Minaj? All joking aside, Gretel does seem like an interesting enough opponent for Batgirl.

Every time Gretel shows up, someone becomes possessed and begins repeating the number 338. In this issue, Simone briefly hints at the significance of 338, but leaves many questions unanswered. 338 could be tied to the address of a building that is set to be torn down by Bruce Wayne, but the significance of the building itself remains a mystery. By leaving the reader with a lot of questions, Simone almost guarantees their return. There's no question about it, the character we see at the end of the issue will definitely leave many yearning for more. By the end, Batgirl is going up against one of her heroes -- question is, why? What's gotten into him?

I like the integration of Barbara's Mother, but I wonder why after all these years she has made herself known to Barbara. Barbara's reaction is natural of any child with an estranged parent. Clearly she feels abandoned; and that's not childish, that's normal. Why should Barbara sit through a conversation on her Mother's terms? I think it made a lot of sense to have Barbara dismiss the conversation both for her own character and for the continuation of the story. I am still interested in seeing who Barbara's Mother is and what this means for her origin.

The Bad

When Commissioner Gordon calls on one of his Detectives to deal with Batgirl it feels similar to what's happening in BATWOMAN -- only a lot less interesting. The Commissioner Gordon VS Batgirl stuff has been done before, and here we get to see it again. Sure it will be interesting to see Simone's take, but how different will this be from what we've already seen?

It's pretty difficult to distinguish between Barbara and her mother in some of these panels, save for what they are wearing. I think it would have been nice if the artist had aged her just a little bit.

Replace Bruce Wayne with any rich dude who owns a billion-dollar company and it wouldn't matter. I'm not a big fan of using Batman to buoy a book. I always end up feeling cheated.

The Verdict

The book wasn't bad, but it didn't blow me away either. The villain is interesting, but doesn't feel very threatening; certainly not "sickly sweet and sadistic," as described on the cover. This isn't deep, dark and brooding like Batwoman -- it's a lot more light-hearted. As a result, it's harder to take Babs really seriously as a crime-fighter. She doesn't feel threatening, but she's also a lot less fun than Stephanie Brown. I am hoping that Simone will dig deeper into her character's psychology rather than remaining on the surface of the issues. I am craving depth for Barbara and I don't feel like I am getting it here. When DC decided to make her walk again, I was really hoping they would explore the psychological ramifications of her getting shot, learning how to walk and coping with the decision to fight crime again -- five issues in and I still haven't seen a glimmer of that.

13 Comments

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Rise2Ragnarok

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Edited By Rise2Ragnarok

I completely agree with your review Sara. I was a huge fan of Birds of Prey before the relaunch and really want to see the depth come back to Barbara like she was back then. I have faith in Gail though, I think things will start to come together soon. I also agree with the shot of Babs and her mother in the coffee shop, I had to look back at the color of their jackets just to make sure who was who.

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OracleX

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Edited By OracleX

Stupid Obvious Question Here: I thought her mother and father were dead. That is how Gordon adopted Barbara. Could someone explain the current continuity? Is James Jr. still around?

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gmanfromheck

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Edited By gmanfromheck

Oh man...not sure what to say about this issue...

@OracleX: The line about her mom leaving and her dad never remarrying is confusing. I just don't see this as Barbara Gordon Sr., the mother of James Jr. We think it's really Thelma Gordon but Jim would've married Barbara Sr after whatever went on between these two. And yes, James Jr. is still around. He was seen in a cell in Arkham in BATMAN #1

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BatBen9135

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Edited By BatBen9135

Wow, completely disagree, but then again, I've disagreed with what a lot of people have thought about Batgirl on this website. I loved this issue and thought it was one of the best yet. Gail is nailing Barbara's characterization while creating the most interesting new villians in the new 52. As a person who just recently got re-introduced into comics, I think Batgirl has been very new-reader friendly, which is probably why I'm not nearly as confused as a lot of other people seem to be.

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TheRedRobin

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Edited By TheRedRobin

It feels like Simone is better at writing villains then she is heroes.

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kartron

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Edited By kartron

@G-Man: Are you considering the changes in Barbara's history due to Flashpoint? I understand many things including killing joke has been retained but can we say the same about her parents? In other words, can we clearly say who Barbara's mother shown in this issue is??

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jsphsmth

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Edited By jsphsmth

I love this comic. I am really not sure what people aren't seeing in it. Gail is writing for the long game (if it were Morrison, people would be accepting of all the unanswered questions). Do people really expect evetrthing to be revealed in issue one and/or the first arc?

Gail's interview at Newsarama has me even more excited about the future of this comic.

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Bestostero

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Edited By Bestostero

@jsphsmth: I love it too!!! you're not alone lol... Gretel seems like another great villain

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RainEffect

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Edited By RainEffect

When she mentions the 'freeze-up with the guns', is that referring to a PTS moment with being exposed to a firearm pointing directly at her? I would be impression with Simone if that was the case. You certainly don't just laugh off the psychological effects of being shot at close range by a psychotic clown.

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kartron

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Edited By kartron

@Bestostero said:

@jsphsmth: I love it too!!! you're not alone lol... Gretel seems like another great villain

This

@jsphsmth: I love it too. I think its heading in right direction right now. And true, many things will be revealed in upcoming issues. It would be unfair to say something in this issue is not complete/ not clear. That is how issues are meant to be many a times!!

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kartron

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Edited By kartron

@RainEffect said:

When she mentions the 'freeze-up with the guns', is that referring to a PTS moment with being exposed to a firearm pointing directly at her?

I think yes, that is the case.

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jsphsmth

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Edited By jsphsmth

@BatBen9135 said:

Wow, completely disagree, but then again, I've disagreed with what a lot of people have thought about Batgirl on this website. I loved this issue and thought it was one of the best yet. Gail is nailing Barbara's characterization while creating the most interesting new villians in the new 52. As a person who just recently got re-introduced into comics, I think Batgirl has been very new-reader friendly, which is probably why I'm not nearly as confused as a lot of other people seem to be.

Exactly. I think that most of us who were used to Babs as Oracle are expecting a character who can direct the Justice League, can rally every hero on Earth to defend it from an alien invasion, and who brought Gotham back from No Mans Land. That character isn't here anymore. Now Babs is a young, failable hero. I find her much more interesting as Batgirl now that I have dropped my initial anger at losing Oracle.

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Ugbug

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Edited By Ugbug

Sara, you say "Replace Bruce Wayne with any rich dude who owns a billion-dollar company and it wouldn't matter".

I disagree, as Bruce Wayne is not just any old rich dude, he's Batman and thus a real threat to seriously hurt Barbara. If it was just any old rich dude it wouldn't create the same tension dramatically.

At full mental capacity we'd expect Bruce Wayne to beat Batgirl in a fight. He's possessed, so that's in Batgirls favor, maybe. But it also means he could do more than just beat her, he could do far more damage than he normally would, as he might not stop at just incapacitating her.