Batgirl Volume 3: Death of the Family Review

Overview

Batgirl: Death of the Family is the a crossover event across the New 52 which charts the events surrounding the Joker’s return to Gotham. For Batgirl’s part though it is only for around the first half this covers where the real plot line is the return and fallout of Barbara’s brother, James Gordon Jr. Gail Simone returns as writer for the first half before being replaced, disappointingly, in the middle.

Batgirl Volume 3: Death of the Family collects Batgirl #0, #14-19, Batman #17, Batgirl Annual #1 and Young Romance#1.

Key Information

Book NameBatgirl Volume 3: Death of the Family
Book SeriesNew 52
Edition ReviewedCollected Edition TP
Writer(s)Gail Simone
Artist(s)Daniel Sampere
Pages224
Issues9
Where to BuyAmazon

Overview

Batgirl Volume 3: Death of the Family Review

Batgirl Annual #1: The Blood That Moves Us Review

Batgirl Annual #1 is a pretty big issue with lots going on. We continue our story following Volume 1 and Volume 2 with Barbara right in the middle of a major building fire trying to save lives and herself. There’s a different artist at the helm in this one having taken over from Ardian Syaf and Ed Benes and it’s much more flat. The skin tone to me seems to be the most contentious point as if every character has been contoured and had an Instagram filter on top. It’s not that it’s badly drawn it’s just that I liked Syaf and Benes work so much.

Batgirl is being helpful as usual getting thugs out of the building. It appears that these building fires were started by the homeless – but who tasked them to do it?

Catwoman gives us a hint she doesn’t like Batgirl and let’s us know she is going to be featured in Batgirl: Death of the Family.

Elsewhere, Commissioner James Gordon goes to see the mute Owl Talon recruit, he looks younger than he should and it bothered me in Batgirl Annual #1 how he was drawn.  After he leaves we see Catwoman spring her out but no mention as to her motives or employer yet. The mute Talon brutally attacks a guard before Catwoman tries to calm her down and almost befriends her. We didn’t get to see much of Talon’s not in Talon mode in Batman’s Owl arc (Court and City) and I’m not sure how I feel about it here. The whole point of them is that they’re mindless killers and now you start to think maybe not.

Catching up with Batgirl again and we see Ricky is still about, which is nice considering how horrific his injuries was, Batgirl protects him from being harassed by his brother and becomes a bit unprofessional with the kiss. So far the book is an introduction and a recap to the events from volume 1 and 2 and some insight into what’s likely in store. It’s a bit slow, stop start.

An old man gives Batgirl a lead on the owls which brings him to the apartment of a Mr. Parsons. Catwoman’s there with the cargo (the Talon) when things start to get awry. Catwoman has a grey moral compass at the best of times but what Mr. Parsons has in mind with framing Bruce to stop the redevelopment project has rubbed her the wrong way. Batgirl intervenes and after that is an almighty scrap between Catwoman/Batgirl and 3 Talons. It’s a fantastic fight scene which ends in Mr. Parsons looking like he is ordered to kill himself by a higher power and the Cat and the Bat escaping along with the Mute Talon. This last bit saved this chapter from being “OK” an ending up as “Good”.

Score: 3.8/5

Batgirl #14: A Courtship of Razors Review

Issue starts with the apparent abduction of Barbara’s mother, Barbara (Yes). It’s made out that it’s the Joker on the phone letting Barbara know who has her. I find it hard to believe it’s the Joker, using the phones, voice changer device and just what he says don’t make him sound like the Joker to me.

The man on the phone asks her to do stuff and somehow knows if she’s compliant – has he placed a camera in her house? Is this a big oversight on Batgirl’s part? Perhaps the writers? The man knows Barbara = Batgirl which again makes me think it isn’t the Joker.

Before long, some of Joker’s men raid Barbara’s apartment and we once again get reminded of how Batgirl lost her legs (yawn) before we see her rise up and beat the daylights out of them and leave. Not without saying her goodbyes to her housemate Alysia.

Batgirl zips over to a location and we see Barbara (the mother) tied down in a chair, roughed up with a hand in bandages. Batgirl watches from a distance while speaking with the man on the phone while Joker talks to Mum. As Batgirl makes her move Joker confirms that the man on the phone was in fact James Gordon Jr. This could be a very interesting evil duo – both pretty unhinged.

Lastly, Joker proposes to Batgirl (!) using what appears to be Barbara’s (mother) cut off finger. Wow!

A pretty good issue if not a little jumpy at times. I feel they could have kept James Jr’s identity a secret for  little while longer and it will be good to see how Batgirl handle an A-Class villain in the Joker.

Score: 4/5

Batgirl #15: Engagement Review

The issue starts with a flashback to a time when Joker was in Prison being interviewed, it’a grim conversation as Joker may or may not have information about the interviewer’s daughter.

Back in present day at the hostage situation the Joker is skating around both barbersBarbaras are now there, he’s quite a skilled roller-skater it must be said.

Alysia calls James for help following the incident with Joker’s men at their apartment, does Gail Simone try and tell us that he cares about her?

The meat of the issue though is a great confrontation between Batgirl Joker and Joker’s men, Barbara is a strong confident female and can hold herself back when needed (she could have easily killed the Joker) and is fully ready to make tough choices but leaving Barbara (mother) while she follows a plan to rescue her properly.

A highlight of the book so far, only marred by the disruption of the Joker flashbacks but even they were pretty well done. Issue ends with somewhat of a cliffhanger, too. Barbara as Batgirl is kicking ass!

Score: 4.5/5

Batgirl #16: Ceremony Review

Starts with an interlude and a flashback about some therapy Barbara was having while paralysed and it’s not as boring as usual. What happens after that though is the best issue of Volume 3, maybe even of all the Batgirl New 52 issues so far. There’s one hell of a confrontation in the church as the maniacal Joker plans to marry Batgirl before taking her arms and legs with a chainsaw and leaving her in the basement.

Joker has been written brilliantly here as the calculated but psychotic killer talks and talks and talks all the while looking like a monster thanks to the skin job on his face. James Gordon Junior arrives on the scene and just as it looks all is going to be well of both Batgirl and Barbara there’s a huge twist and a massive moment. So far, Joker hasn’t been outstanding and James Gordon Jr. has been a bit dull but in Batgirl #16 both of them were phenomenally written. Brilliant.

Score: 5/5

Batman #17: The Punchline Review

We are now in the scene where Joker has the Batfamily together for dinner as seen in Batman: Death of the Family and probably the other characters Death of the Family books as well. This is the same issue as included in Batman: Death of the Family but we now know how Batgirl ended up there.

It’s a great issue but it’s not really in keeping wit Batgirl’s story and tone. But for those who haven’t read Batman in New 52 then I suppose it’s necessary to have it in there. If you’ve already read Batman’s version you may skip it or re read it – personally, I skimmed it.

Score: 3/5

Young Romance: A New 52 Valentine’s Day Special #1 Review

So Batgirl’s back on the beat in this very short Valentine’s special. Gail Simone not at the helm again for the second issue in a row and it’s Ray Fawkes at the helm. Ricky’s about to jack a car when she steams in to give him a telling off before being ambushed by some pretty stupid low level thugs. She dishes out the pain before lecturing Ricky gain.

What happens after that is some poorly written nonsense where Ricky flirts and Batgirl gives him way too much attention in the middle of the street for all to see. It all feels like a pointless filler issue just to make some sales for DC. Gail Simone was on to something good and these last two issues have really distracted from it all.

Score: 2/5

Batgirl #17: Endure the Flames Review

Ray Fawkes again as the writer and this issue is all go and a mishmash of a few little plots and characters coming together. There’s fire again throughout Gotham and once again Batgirl is at hand. Not until we’ve been sent back to a flashback where Barbara sends her dad some intel about the Joker gang’s members that need arresting.

In the real world, Barbara bumps into Ricky while out on a walk – how does he not make the connection is beyond me?!

James Gordon Jr. the son from hell visits his mother, he really gave me the creeps here but Barbara (mother) stands up to him and tells him to either kill her or leave. At this stage we aren’t sure which one he chose.

James Gordon Sr. who looks young and different in a slightly uncomfortable way (is it the glasses?) takes the intel and gets his men to work. James Jr calls Barbara but he doesn’t scare her, alludes that he intends to do something very bad to her, though. Lastly, Firebug is involved and there’s a short fight with an inconclusive ending.

A messy issue which is fragmented and all over the place. The Ricky scene seemed forced and the emergence of Firebug seemed a bit rushed. Artwork was a bit dubious at times where some characters seemed unrecognisable from their usual looks.

Score: 3/5

Batgirl #18: The Mask Of Ashes Review

We pick up where we left off and James Gordon Jr is narrating the issue. He sees that Batgirl is a hero following the fight but in really bad shape coming out of the wreckage. James Gordon Jr doesn’t want her to die, not here, and helps the men excavate her. There’s no sign of Firebug, a bit disappointing he went as soon as he came.

Batman visits gordon and tells him Robin (Damian) is dead?! He then calls Barbara. No one seems to be fazed by this much and there’s no explanation either, it seems utterly pointless to bring it up especially in a Batgirl book.

James Gordon Jr still narrating and manages to know exactly what she’s doing – is there definitely no camera at her place? He threatens her over the phone again, he should just get it over with. Getting a bit boring now.Gordon Jr. goes to kill Barbara (mother) but she’s gone, did Batgirl predict this? No, Barbara saw him coming and fled.

Following this, Batgirl follows a trade on Jr’s phone and falls for his trap. He meanwhile calls up Barbara (mother) and threatens her over the phone. How original.

Boring. Unoriginal.

Score 2.5/5

Batgirl #19: A Blade from the Shadow Review

Let’s have a flashback to when Barbara and James Gordon Jr were young watching horror movies and you get hints of how James Jr. was always going to grow up ‘wrong’.

Batgirl makes things right with her friend Alysia who is revealed to be transgender, it’s great that comic books are being more open and modern with the times but this revelation did seem forced.

The rest of the issue is set at an epic confrontation in the stormy rain between Barbara mother and daughter and James Jr. it’s fast, it’s clever and it looked stunning. I loved and what I loved the most was the conclusion. Welcome back Gail Simone!

Score: 4.5/5

Summary

Overall, it’s a decent book. Gail Simone is a great writer and has gotten to grips with the revitalised Barbara and Batgirl. Disappointingly however she is taken off mid way through and the quality suffers quite a bit. It’s an interesting book with great visuals which is sometimes marred by inconsistencies and the aforementioned change of writing. If Gail Simone has been the writer for the whole book I have no doubt this would have been among the greats.

Below is a chart which shows the individual scores of the issues and you can clearly see which parts I didn’t enjoy so much.

Score: 3.6/5

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