Writer: Mairghread Scott
Penciller: Paul Pelletier
Inker: Norm Rapmund
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
It’s safe to say the most famous Batgirl storyline is in The Killing Joke, and even that’s somewhat sad considering she has no real agency in that book. However, that story was important in establishment what Batgirl would become for years. For a while, she was Oracle, but she eventually got healed thanks to a microchip. That fact hasn’t gotten references in a storyline recently, but it becomes a major point in the latest Batgirl issue.
Batgirl is chasing Grotesque, who just stole an expensive piece of art and murdered two people. She’s tired of being treated like an object, the same way she was treated both physically (and somewhat metaphorically) in The Killing Joke. There’s even a stunning panel alluding to The Killing Joke that really drives the point home.
She gets into a visceral fight with Grotesque, and it’s far more brutal than what you would expect out of a Batgirl issue. She’s electrocuted and ends up in the harbor, unaware of how she got there. This leads into a full seizure when she goes to visit her father.
The most common critique against The Killing Joke is how the violence against Batgirl essentially exists to motivate Batman. Presumably with this arc, Batgirl is taking control of her own agency once again. She did it years ago by getting an implant, so she could walk again. And now she’s doing it again by taking down Grotesque who literally sets up corpses as famous works of art.
In fact, Grotesque’s M.O. is not unlike the Joker scene with Barbara in The Killing Joke. In that famous scene, Joker takes photographs of Barbara after she has been shot, turning her broken body into “art” to later torture Jim Gordon. Upon reflection, Grotesque is kind of the perfect villain for this arc, and it’s no wonder why Batgirl is more vicious than usual.
Overall Score: 9/10
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