Recovering from the physical and emotional damage caused by The Joker in Death of the Family, Barbara tries to sit back and let the police do their job in rounding up Joker’s henchmen by anonymously sending her father a list of known thugs. But for all the good she does, James Gordon Jr. sets out to tear them apart. Before she knows it, she’s jumping from scene to scene in a vain attempt to prevent the deaths of police officers from her mentally unstable brother.
Batgirl #17 is the first of three issues written by Ray Fawkes. I presume he was set to be the new regular series writer until fans rose up and forced DC to put Gail Simmone back on the book, which will happen in issue #20. In the meantime, here is Ray setting Barbara up on an emotional roller-coaster of having to deal with her dangerously psychotic brother in the aftermath of Death of the Family. He goes on an interesting route by telling the story primarily through the perspective of James Gordon Jr., showing how he both mocks and admires his sister’s heroism while unleashing a domino effect of destruction that he believes will lead to her doom. The writing is not bad and Fawkes does a decent job showing Barbara as a woman trying to muster whatever strength she has left to keep her head straight after all she has been through and what she is about to go through next.
The illustrations by Daniel Sampere look very nice. He is essentially hitting all the notes generally associated with how super hero comic books are drawn these days, while also trying to find ways here and there to make them enhance the storytelling rather than just be pictures going along with the narrative. I normally knock inkers for adding seemingly unnecessary lines to the artwork, but I think Vincente Cifuentes does right to do so as it gives some extra depth to the physical scars that the characters are wearing following an event like Death of the Family. The coloring by Blond is vibrant amid the darkness of the night. When there is a light source, be it from a police siren or an exploding building, it is pronounced visually and rather spectacularly.
This issue of Batgirl is not going to tell me whether or not Gail Simmone should not have been dropped from the book in the first place. What it does tell me is that Ray Fawkes does a good enough job to set the stage for what can possibly be an intriguing story. Daniel Sampere and the rest of the art team help out by drawing pictures that allow for a reader like myself to want to keep reading to see what may happen next. It’s not exactly an issue that any one can jump into an not feel lost since readers would obviously need to know more about who James Gordon Jr. is and why he’s doing what he is doing. Nevertheless, this is otherwise a fair enough title for me to recommend if there is nothing else interesting to check out.
Could three issues not written by Gail Simmone be beneficial to Batgirl? Comment below and follow me on Twitter @LordAkiyama.