Of Moths And Fish: Reviewing ‘Batgirls’ #10
by Scott Redmond
‘Batgirls’ continues to capture a sort of old-school comic feeling mixed with a lot of modern sensibilities as it gives the main characters the spotlight that they truly deserve. A colorful, fun, emotional, silly, serious, and human feeling series that is a true delight to open up every single month. Anyone that is a fan of comic books should be picking this series up because it’s pure comic book goodness.
There are a great variety of ways that it can be said but for the sake of brevity and to not run things in unnecessary circles, Batgirls is truly one of the best books DC Comics is currently publishing. It can be debated, but the arguments against would fail against the mountain of evidence.
Everything about this book is just fun and colorful and deep with character, allowing for tons of emotional human moments wrapping around those that are deeply silly and those that are very heavy or painful. One can’t even pick just one or two words or ideas to use as descriptors for the series, because it’s doing so much in every single issue. Yet, it never feels like it’s overwhelming or doing too much. In fact, it’s given these three Batgirls exactly the level of focus and spotlight that they deserve and, in some cases, haven’t been getting as much of the past few years.
Characters doing detective-style research can be a scene that drags or is a bit dry in some stories, but not here. No, Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad use this scene as a place to have some fun with their characters and continue building out their new world. Plenty of eye-related puns, the entrance of one Kyle Mizoguchi (the elder brother of fan-favorite Gotham Academy character Mia “Maps” Mizoguchi), some flirting/love interest speculation for Stephanie, and providing a perfect segue right into the action piece of the issue.
Killer Moth is one of those villains that doesn’t get taken quite as seriously most of the time, but has a deep history with Batgirl, making him perfect to cross paths with these Batgirls. I like how Cloonan & Conrad keep him as a goofy villain but also make him a bit of a threat, and he doesn’t defeat our heroes because he’s stronger or better or something like that. It’s just luck of the circumstances and the wonderful thing called gravity that aids him in this battle. Nothing like a fight that ends with the heroes having to grumble all the way home smelling like fish.
At the end of the day what I love about this series is how light but also heavy and important they can make each of the issues. It feels like a good old-fashioned sort of single issue while being the second part of a story arc that carries on the overarching subplot that has been in the background since the series began. All while hitting all the correct character notes showcasing their love and knowledge of these characters with every moment. I’ve said it before, this is a happy place for me.
Oh, I almost forgot, the moments between Babs/Batgirl/Oracle and Commissioner Montoya. There are sometimes when I feel the relationship between some Bat characters and the cops is too much, but here it works. Montoya is firm and honest with Oracle, pointing to why she cannot and will not openly work with them as Jim Gordon did.
Bringing all of this to life is the fantastic, wonderful work of Neil Googe and Rico Renzi. Googe joined the series with the previous issue while Renzi came on board after the first arc, and both have just done wonderful work keeping up the colorful/fun deep energy that this book has had since the first issue. There is a light feeling to Googe’s art style but there is a tone of realistic deep detail that can be found while nicely playing in that whimsical almost outlandish sort of quality that is befitting of this series.
We can see a ton of really awesome paneling choices that enhances the kinetic movement energy of the art, especially during the aforementioned Killer Moth fight which feels so frantic and real. If it popped off the page and came to life before my eyes, I would not even be that surprised.
Whatever energy or atmosphere is needed, Googe is able to spectacularly deliver it. From those fight scenes to some silly moments with the girls after the fish to a wide gorgeous rooftop shot of Gotham city and more.
On the colors side, Renzi brings that same energy as the pages shift between colors that are more ‘normal’ for any given situation to lots of bright powerful varying colors. I love it when colorists do that thing where a bright vivid color takes over as sort of a filter over a panel or page, like the vivid green at the end that comes with the reveal of the man behind the Hill killings (Mister Fun, what a deep cut, well done there!). It’s a very different green than the one that is often prevalent in any of the scenes with Babs, calling to her status as Oracle. Just like there is plenty of purples, blacks, blues, and yellows to be found with those greens in the apartment that the Batgirls share, those colors tied to their costumes of course. It’s just such a great touch, that works so well.
There are scenes such as the one at Nightwing’s apartment that is lighter in colors and feel more like what a day might look like to some of us, alongside ones that are just so vivid and bright and overly colorful, and they all work together. Comic books are just so fantastic like that, and Renzi pulls that off perfectly. Also, those night scenes are just superb because they feel accurately dark and light with the heaviness that comes from a city at night.
One cannot forget the other aspect of artistic work that makes a comic book fully work, that being the lettering. Becca Carey does fantastic work in all these issues, making sure that the lettering is just as powerful and energetic as everything else on the page. We can fully feel the personality of each character in their dialogue, bubbles taking on different shapes or sizes to match the moment. Just like the font changes to match the volume and tone that is needed for any given moment, big and bold for yelling or dramatically shrinking for a whisper or quieter moment. Visual showcases of volume/tone are of paramount importance in this medium since we can’t hear or see these characters speaking or moving in the way that we’re accustomed to.
Things like the fantastic fourth wall breaking series captions, having things like laughter being huge in a bubble to show the power of them, and all those right there in your face or powerful fun SFX are great comic book stuff. Everything here is just about fitting into this world and telling a story while remembering what makes this medium truly wonderful.
Batgirls #10 is now available from DC Comics.