This single issue may be one of the purest examples of a one-shot tie-in done right in recent memory. Endgame is a substantial storyline, and DC’s latest Bat-Events have all had substantial tie-ins, but many of them felt like they were to the detriment of the core title. While COURT OF OWLS benefited from feeling slap-dash and last-second, the quality of future ones dipped precipitously, which is why this whole “One-Shot” format for Endgame is such a great idea. It involves the core creators AND doesn’t interrupt the title’s flow. This one, though, this one feels like it’s doing something truly special. Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart give us almost total silence in this book, punctuated only by laughter that feels more like a sound effect than it does proper dialog. We see Barbara Gordon not trying to fight back the horde of Joker-infested people, that wouldn’t be possible, but aiding in the evacuation and it’s here that she truly shines. This is still an upbeat, positive book overall and Endgame, while an excellent title, is extraordinarily dark and profoundly grim. By giving Batgirl a more humanitarian, but still highly proactive, role, it allows the book to retain its tone without devaluing her contribution.
Bengal is the artist, linework and colors, and does an absolutely stellar job stepping up. The linework is a little edgier and the colors are definitely darker, but that’s a great way to non-verbally communicate that what’s going on is a bit darker than what readers, and Babs, might be used to. And non-verbal’s all this book has cause it truly is a silent book, which is where Bengal’s visuals truly shine: body language. Bengal’s art achieves something amazing by being both subtle and overt: overt when it needs to substitute for actual dialog and subtle when it’s showing the characters mulling or thinking. There are no written words save for laughter and a final end bit, so there’s no inner monologue or narration to fall back on, but the story is still easy to follow as his panel control is top-notch.
Obviously with no written words, this book flies by and can likely be completed in half the time, if not less, than a standard issue. The issue is at the $2.99 price point, and there are plenty of smaller details that can be appreciated upon re-reads, as well as a lot of great detail, but it is, obviously, brief.
There’s a certain audacity to books like this, which used to be more common, that can still be appreciated, even if there is a perceived value reduction. The story is fantastically executed, and this actually stands as an evergreen issue, despite being a tie-in to a larger narrative. If this were a one-shot divorced from the Endgame label, it’d work just as well. While it can be read quickly, it truly should be savored and there’s plenty to appreciate from one panel to the next.