Sometimes, even Gail Simone can’t avoid a comics cliche, but she handles it well in Batgirl 12. This is the first meeting between Batgirl and Batwoman, and there is the obligatory fight between heroes who misunderstand each other. Mercifully, it’s executed well and is short. The meeting between the two characters is especially ironic to comic fans in the know, as the costume Batwoman wears was originally designed by legendary artist Alex Ross for a more grown up Batgirl.
Batwoman shows up to go after Detective McKenna, who we learned last issue is a reluctant associate of Knightfall and her band of deadly vigilantes. After the initial clash of heroes, McKenna, Batwoman, and Batgirl team up to fight Knightfall, and her finally named group, the Disgraced. Babs fights in her usual intelligent style, and she and her allies are doing well. At Batwoman’s urging, Batgirl leaves the fight to the other two, and goes to try and rescue Ricky the car thief, who was the catalyst that first brought Batgirl into conflict with the Disgraced. While trying to rescue Ricky, Batgirl is seriously stabbed by Knightfall, ending the issue.
As always, I give Gail points for her writing and her creativity. While the fight is a bit of an overused device, it’s different in that A) Batgirl doesn’t really win the fight and that B) it’s wrapped up quickly with an appeal to logic, not snarled threats. There’s also a tension-ratcheting scene in which Commissioner Gordon is informed that his homicidal son has escaped from the institution. Oddly, since being introduced several issues ago, Barbara’s mother hasn’t been seen. I do sort of wonder where she’s gotten to.
Ardian Syaf, as he has been, turns in some beautiful art here. One of the main reasons I don’t get the Batwoman title is that she’s been drawn as ridiculously, Joker-esque, pale, which always strikes me as not only really weird, but making it a LOT harder to keep her secret ID. Here, Syaf’s Batwoman is pale, but not ridiculously so. Everything is drawn well, and looks fantastic to me.
I’d say this was a very well done issue, and Batgirl remains one of the more enjoyable titles of the DCNU. Barbara’s potentially fatal wound won’t be resolved next month, as all stories are interrupted for a company-wide “event” of 0 issues giving background to the various characters and teams of the new world. We’ll see what happens with Batgirl and company in two months.