Living Life The Batgirl Way: Reviewing ‘Batgirls’ #9
by Scott Redmond
A deep focus on character is one of the things that makes many people fall in love with comic books, and ‘Batgirls’ is one of those series that nails the delicate dance of filling an issue with tons of character moments alongside the superhero action in all the right amounts. A vividly colorful and fun series that is a delight from the first page to the last with each and every single issue so far.
The Batgirls have had a whole ton on their plates since they made the move into The Hill section of Gotham City, and now the latest thing to cross their paths hits very close to home.
Through the previous eight issues, Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad have done a fantastic job of not only giving us tons of deep character moments between the three leads (and others) but also fleshing out and building the supporting cast/section of the city. All of that makes it so that by the time we get to this ninth issue things we the audience know this section of town well and can feel something when things begin to unravel, and the Batgirls are hit hard as the plot of the killer in town resurfaces.
Everyone, including Nightwing himself, being able to take time to get revenge on KGBeast, for what he did to Grayson, is a wonderful throughline for the Batman/Gotham-related books. At the same time, the scenes are nothing alike as the one in Nightwing with Flash was a bit more serious (Wally is Dick’s BFF after all) while the fight here is more befitting of the playful tone that weaves through this series.
Truly what I love about this issue is that it’s a good old-fashioned type of issue where the cast has lots of downtime sort of life moments, a good bit of action, while also moving some of the overall plots forward. Basically, a single one-off sort of issue but not at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, I like big story arcs but series that have these sorts of issues are a delight to see because it really allows us more grounded moments with the characters. These characters are what draw many of us to the comics, so the more time seeing their lives and personality the better.
There are a lot of moving pieces within this issue, from the leads having solo moments to the fight and the mystery, but Cloonan and Conrad juggle them all with ease making sure that everything has room to breathe and never feels crowded or more chaotic than planned.
Remember how I mentioned that this is a fun book above, much of that fun energy can be found within the artwork. This issue sees Neil Googe picking up on the art side with Rico Renzi still on colors after jumping onto the book with the previous two issues. Googe has a style that moves in and creates a home right in-between a sort of realistic detailed experience and something that is way more outlandish/fun and has comic book energy to it. With all the kinetic energy it already has it’s not hard to imagine this art just popping right off the page and going right into motion like an animated series.
No matter whether the moment is more serious or playful or introspective, the art manages to nail the right atmosphere for that moment and gives it all the right bit of weight.
Same with the colors that Renzi is bringing, which have a lot of bright vivid pop to them but also manage to be somewhat toned down in a sense. Whole backgrounds that are splashes of blue or yellow or purple that stand out but are not so bright that they take away from the character or moment that is in the foreground. Bright really light-feeling daytime scenes as well as darker gloomier night scenes stand side by side and compliment one another so well, leaving room for more gloominess and shadows encroaching on the proceedings as we move along.
Comic books are a super medium and can do so many fun things, and here we continue to get the amazing fun that is the narrator captions. There is a whole lot of personality found there, and Becca Carey always makes sure that this personality and fun can be found in all the lettering. We can see this in things like color-changing dialogue bubbles, the use of big bursting out of the bubble words to showcase excitement/provide emphasis, or much smaller fonts to show when someone is whispering/muttering. Volume and tone, to me, are very important to showcase within the lettering because it makes sure that we the audience know for sure what is intended upon the page.
I mean we have a moment where Stephanie’s whole sentence is dragged out letter by letter in various directions, letters repeated, as she falls screaming the words out. That’s some fun and awesome work.
Batgirls #9 is now available from DC Comics.