Batgirl Volume 2: Knightfall Descends Review

Overview

I liked volume one and scored it a 3 and I hope they can stop with the plot holes but continue with Barbara’s charming monologue. Gail Simone does a wonderful job of making her seem real in an unrealistic world. I was not disappointed with this book and it was a huge improvement to the first volume. Batgirl Volume 2 (New 52): Knightfall Descends collects Batgirl #0 and #7-#13

Batgirl Volume 2: Knightfall Descends Review

Batgirl #0: A Fire In The Heavens

Barbara adores James Gordon Jr. and follows in his footsteps as we are taken on a flashback to Barbara and James Jrs. James Jr seems off in the flashback and clearly it was to make a point of what’s to come in the Black Mirror (technically what’s already happened). Harry X, the perp during the GCPD flashback  also says “I know what he is” about him. I love this sort of stuff in books.

Batgirl GCPD Costume
Batgirl GCPD Costume

Barbara has an early fascination with Batman which is another foreshadowing. Straight away she’s strong and focused and protective of others. She’s always thinking which is her best trait other than her looks. Isn’t afraid of Harry X at all. Why should she be when’s she’s Barbara Gordon?

Intense. Driven. Exceptional – her words.

She dons the Batman cape the GCPD put together (I think) and using her own self taught fighting skills takes down Harry X to Batman’s approval before going into a flash forward and giving up the cape after messing up (I don’t know this story) before it leads again to the events of The Killing Joke.

#7 is a brilliant issue, non stop action, no plot holes and Barbara’s inner voice really sucks you in it feels so genuine. The art once again is top notch but this issue, for me, is a relief after some of the inconsistencies and frustrations of The Darkest Reflection.

Batgirl #7: A View From Below

An early scuffle with some bloke in the mask starts the chapter brilliantly and Barbara’s depreciating humour continues to shine.

Barbara admitting to the reader that she has been getting beaten up left right and centre is appreciated as it makes the beatings make sense and plugs my worry they weren’t on purpose, she got beaten up a lot in The Darkest Reflection. The fact she admits it and seeks out Dinah (The Black Canary) to spar makes her stronger in my eyes as she owns her mistakes. Clearly her poor form of late isn’t so much physical but mental as she continues to think back to being shot by the Joker. A constant recurring theme which at times because irritating but I suppose necessary.

Black Canary slaps Batgirl
Black Canary slaps Batgirl

A brief conversation between Barbara (the mother) and James Gordon brings out the truth about her disappearance- James Jr. was the reason she abandoned her family. Not a complete surprise considering the events of The Black Mirror.

Canary slaps Batgirl for being so self absorbed and sometimes selfish as she appears to complain about her mother coming back and getting her legs back. About time someone did.

Now recalling how Barbara got into the fight with Grotesque and his henchmen it would appear that one of the thugs was present when she was shot in the spine. Perhaps an opportunity for closure or maybe something that will cause her to freeze like her confrontation with Mirror (Batgirl #1) in the hospital?

Batgirl #8 had plenty going on both in terms of action and dialogues. Batgirl’s New 52 is finally starting to pick up the pace finally and is becoming the great read I always hoped it would be.

Batgirl #8: No Darker Shadow

In an odd series of events, Batgirl swiftly deals some pain to the henchman present during the shooting- Danny “the weasel” Weaver but in somewhat of a moment of madness lets him go despite his past and current crimes. Barbara wonders why she did it and promptly panics. Was she just not ready to face what happened despite the nightmares?

Her decision is likely to haunt her as Grotesque now sees an opportunity to use the Weasel as bait for Batgirl.

Batgirl vs Talon
Batgirl vs Talon

A flashback from Barbara senior shoes James Jr’s early days as he kills the cat (this tuns out is somewhat of a foreshadowing later) and blames it on her being “a bad mommy” I recently watched We need to talk about Kevin and this reminds me a LOT of that. Walking out on them all still isn’t justified but seeing how James turned out somewhat helps her cause- but if she had stuck around could she have helped or was James Jr destined to be serial killer regardless?

Batgirl finally gets a chance to roundly beat up Grotesque (who isn’t grotesque after all under the mask) before Danny of all people helps her get the upper hand. He opens up about working with Joker and how Batgirl reminds her of a girl he once got involved in during a home invasion…he says he’s not sorry but was the person who called the police to help her and in some strange way saves her life. It’s actually quite sad as Danny himself then passes away from his injuries. Will this help Batgirl get over it? To spur her on? This was probably my best scene of Batgirl New 52 so far, Gail Simone gets the emotions dead on and i genuinely felt for Barbara here.

Alysia (Batgirl’s roommate from Volume 1) meets some some stranger on her way home after her bar job and against all the odds it’s James Gordon Jr. Should I have seen this coming? Yes, but did I? No. This got me by complete surprise and I thank Simone again for that!

Batgirl #9: In The Line of Fire

We’re headed to 1944 Japan and it’s a really boring story. I’m sure it’ll make sense later but I didn’t enjoy it. Changing of pace is something I find to be quite tricky in comics, Volume 1 had a lot of it hence the score of 3/5.

Batgirl vs. Katharsis
Batgirl vs. Katharsis

We then go to Gotham 1946 and this is a little more interesting as it’s a recruitment drive for a young disfigured girl for the Court of Owls. Having read City and Court I am up to speed on this! After a brief scrap the member of the Owls vanishes right at the moment Batgirl could have been finished and then left! No doubt the reason was something to do with what Bruce was up to at the time but still, they were pretty ruthless against Batman.

An agent of Owls threatens James Gordon (senior) and for a second I could swear it worked…and it did for a while before Gordon snaps out of it. All hell breaks loose from bomb balloons similar to the 1944 flashback. Barbara also seems to be on to something- was Alysia the girl from 1944 or am I way off? Is she a talon? Both?! This is still an unsolved mystery.

Fantastically exciting and tense chapter, poor start maybe but it just got better and better.

Batgirl #10: All Snug In Their Beds

Fast forward to Batgirl beating up some thugs at a rich gala in town. She questions the brutality and the Bat families position in fighting crime. She has a heart and not a single mind like Bruce. One of the thugs jets off round the corner only to be stopped by a mystery and a brutal bear trap. Shortly after, some dodgy gala people come down and say they have the situation under control and Batgirl should go. Very suspicious and closed off. Batgirl leaves but has a bitter taste in her mouth. A closer look shows the gala people to have pretty strong muscles…

Knightfall
Knightfall

We get to see a little bit on Charise, the organiser of the gala and her somewhat dark past before it zooms in on what appears to be a blind hostage in the past.. elsewhere, Batgirl regrets leaving Ricky in the bear trap but does manage to get through to Alysia who appears to be in trouble. No sign of any Owls for a while but something tells me the other stuff that’s happened will be connected.

It seems pretty obvious that the new villain from “The Disgraced” is the muscular lady from the gala. Theres a fight, a good one, between another woman with wings calling herself Katharsis. For once Batgirl gets one over an adversary on the first go but is then ambushed by the other Disgraced.

A cool issue with a change of pace, new characters and an interesting subplot. No mentions of her nightmares over losing her legs 3 years ago or struggling for practice. She seems a lot more assured now and back on her feet. It’ll be interesting to see how a more confident Batgirl is going to deal with The Disgraced and this so called “Knightfall”.

Batgirl #11: Heart of Cold Steel

Batgirl’s got a lot more confidence in herself now but it seems to have spilled over to overconfidence as she gets a good start against Katharsis, Bleak Michael (great name) and Bonebreaker but it doesn’t last long and is overpowered. Why doesn’t anyone ever call for backup in the Bat family when they actually need it?

Batgirl vs Batwoman
Batgirl vs Batwoman

In the mean time, James Jr is getting close to Alysia and brings her an absolutely monstrous cat called Alaska, this I assume was the same name the cat he killed had. Clearly this is all to get at Barbara but it would be a shame for Alysia as a character to be removed purely for the plot.

Hero cop Melody comes out of nowhere to save the day and takes Batgirl away safely, it all seems too easy and there’s familiarity between her and Knightfall. Back at Melody’s apartment there’s some backstory for Cherise and then what unravels is a pretty epic twist. This is somewhat spoiler free so I’ll leave it there. The issue finishes with the introduction of what looks to be a new villain in bat familyesque suit. She does look a lot like Batgirl it has to be said.

Great issue and a great book.

Batgirl #12: Everytime I Fall

Not long after Batgirl and Melody get talking and Batgirl gets to the truth the new villain flies in. Insantly I try to think who it is, Babs thinks it’s Batwoman. The red hair gives it away – I think it’s Barbara Gordon (senior), Batgirl’s mum. The hair gives it away. I don’t know this, I’m just guessing. Her suit is striking and it does have a batesque symbol on it. Got to be her, surely.  Looks like Batwoman is neither friend or foe and demands to take Melody in. The timing matches up that this is Batgirl’s mother.  Knightfall isn’t done though and this arrangement seems to have been Melody’s plan all this time.

Batgirl Stabbed
Batgirl Stabbed

Well fuck me, James Gordon Jr is involved in the whole thing. Seems obvious after the fact but I didn’t see this coming. There’s a big family reunion coming up i can feel it. Batgirl, Batwoman and both James Gordons.

The books ends in another epic fight with Batgirl and The Disgraced before a shocking event right at the death as Batgirl is stabbed by Knightfall.

This is the best issue of this arc so far. Intrigue by the bucketloads, suspense action and a strong Batgirl finally. The artwork has been consistent and stunning from the get-go and arguably the best art of the New 52 books I’ve read so far (Batman, Suicide Squad, Batgirl) This is becoming an amazing book and I am so glad to have pushed past the mildly mediocre first six issues in The Darkest Reflection.

Batgirl #13: A Blade of Memory

Batgirl is seriously injured but gets the strength for a few hits. Meanwhile Batwoman and Melody seem to be handling the other Disgraced taking them out of the game. James Gordon Jr. watches it all from a distance…

Turns out Cherise didn’t kill her family and the prisoner she’s had was the killer of her entire family as Cherise watched. She threw herself in Arkham on purpose to learn the craft of the mentally insane. Lovely.

Batgirl, with the help of Ricky subdues Knightfall before the cavalry arrives. It’s an epic fight where the artwork jumps out of you. A few of the loose ends aren’t tackled but it does finish the with the Disgrace helping some of the villains out of jail.

Summary

After a slow and mediocre start in the Darkest Reflection, Knightfall descends improves in every area and delivers a fantastic story with memorable action. In the backdrop is a great plot for readers to chew on which doesn’t distract from the immediate storyline. Knightfall descends was a joy to read with the writing and art on point. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking to get into Batgirl, reading volume 1 is helpful but skipping it won’t make you lost in Volume 2.

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