Taking The Fun Out Of Riddles: Reviewing ‘Batgirls’ #12

by Scott Redmond


‘Batgirls’ might have reached the end of Bat Girl Summer, but the fall and beyond for these characters is just as bright and awesome. There is a great energy and style to this book that makes sure it never loses a step and is fun but serious at the same time month after month, a clear love on the page from everyone involved. 


Riddle me this, riddle me that, who’s afraid of the big bad bats? The answer: everyone should be because the Batgirls are pretty darn awesome, and no matter what it takes they’ll find a criminal and take them down in their signature style. 

Batgirls wraps up the Hill Ripper storyline with its usual blend of seriousness, wacky villains, great jokes/quips, and some fantastic character work that tugs at the heartstrings. There are plenty of ways to say it, but the easiest and to-the-point is, simply, this book is awesome. Issue after issue, month after month, it delivers in a way that many fans of these characters have been waiting years for. This is the Bat-book that has discovered the formula for telling a big action Gotham piece that is grounded and fun but also relevant and powerful. 

Crafting a mystery — or sort of mystery — that keeps the characters in the dark but informs the readers when doing monthly releases isn’t always easy, but Becky Cloonan and Michael Conrad sure pulled it off easily. We’ve seen for a while that it was Mr. Fun (even if we didn’t get his name till recently), a deep-cut Batman-related character behind things, but the Riddler was thrown into the mix and it seemed maybe he was actually part of it all. Then, in this issue, they pulled the rug out and surprised me because his actual involvement was the most Riddler thing possible, and was great. The Batgirls were a real mood here as they became more and more tired of the bombardment of riddles, making it all even funnier.

Just a ton of goodness all around from Stephanie holding her own against Riddler in both physicality and brains (and the tease about a certain other villain related to her and the upcoming annual was great) to Cassie flying around with Killer Moth to save Grace O’Hallaran to the fact that Grace is able to hold her own against Mr. Fun for a bit was all solid. Even the supporting characters here are fleshed out, strong, powerful, and have agency and a role in things. They aren’t there just to bounce off the Batgirls, they have their own stuff which informs and deepens the whole area/world. Even Officer Brooks from the previous issue returns and plays an important role, and the relationship of the Batgirls with GCPD/Commissioner Montoya is a bit less frosty now. 

Character and emotion, no matter whether it’s the heroes or the villains, are key to this series and the writer duo does it splendidly time and time again. It’s a part of Gotham that I love to spend as much time as possible within, easily one of the best books on the stands. 

It takes the right types of artists to keep hitting the right balance between the lighter and heavier aspects of this series, with Neil Googe and Rico Renzi being exactly the right type. Mixing more whimsical fun or cool elements with dire moments or action is something Googe does well, allowing a page to have both terrifying or dangerous elements highlighted right alongside sillier human moments that bring a smile or laugh. 

A perfect example is the brutal fight between Mr. Fun and Cass that takes up multiple pages and ends with Fun beat, Grace bleeding from a bad cut by her eye, police, and others showing up to help with action vibes at their height to give us a great solo shot of Cass making a great podcast quip before zipping off. This is just one of many examples; any of the pages with the fight between Riddler and Steph is going down, where the balance is struck perfectly because the art is detailed when it needs to be allowing emotion/power to showcase but light enough that we can feel and believe the lighter moments. 

Helping that feeling are the always great colors that Renzi is providing, which are so vivid and powerful in their own right. We see tons of greens splashed into the background through all the Riddler pages followed by purples outside and bright pinks in Grace’s place and other colors such as blue that are just there in a loud but also perfectly welcoming sort of way. They are eye-catching and set the mood without ever taking away from what is happening, providing some of that levity and fun or hope by being so bright and beyond the norm. Even in the most serious moments, it allows us to remember how much fun this book is and that the Batgirls will prevail in the end and kick all the ass. 

Completing the effect that this issue has as a whole takes lettering work that can bring that same energy and Becca Carrey does just that. Volume, tone, personality, and more are always inherent in her work so that we can hear just what these characters are saying but also how they are saying it. Much of this is accomplished through simple things like changing font sizes or style to showcase yelling or whispering but it’s also done through great uses of colorful or differently shaped bubbles, or a totally comic book thing of having shouted words almost breaking out of a bubble and big powerful SFX right there in the middle of everything. 

Just try not to smile when Fido comes onto the page and drops some perfectly placed and styled Borks. It’s not possible. 

Batgirls #12 is now available from DC Comics. 

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