One of the things I’ve come to appreciate with Bryan Q. Miller’s writing on “Batgirl” is that the series feels like a long, extended soap opera… but in a good way. So when Miller introduced the Grey Ghost into the mix, for instance, it wasn’t just a one-off appearance. Characters keep coming back, situations grow over time, and Miller’s carved out a little corner of the Bat-universe for his own.
This month has some of those pieces coming to a head; the mystery of the Reapers continues, the Grey Ghost’s tailing of Batgirl finally gets confronted, and Slipstream makes a return appearance. The first of a two-part story, it’s a fun little jaunt as Miller mixes and matches the different characters; there’s humor, there’s drama, there’s action. If it wasn’t for the nice reveal on what Slipstream’s real plan involving the banks is, I’d say that my favorite part of the issue has to be Batgirl and the Grey Ghost interacting with one another. There’s a bit of mystery, some one-upmanship, and a good sense of humor too. I’d say the two should team up more often, but I suspect each character would view the other as the sidekick.
Alas, the cover text for “Batgirl” this month fibs; Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs aren’t drawing the book (presumably taking the month off to finish up their work on “Batman: Streets of Gotham”) so Ramon Bachs steps in. Bachs handles the book well enough; it’s a very different visual feel to the comic, but it’s the little touches (like the look on Batgirl’s face when Slipstream grabs her ankle) that make it work. Those sorts of expressions run throughout the book, from the Grey Ghost nursing a punch to the teeth, to Batgirl holding her head after a super-speed wallop. Some of the quieter moments in the book end up being slightly understated, but Bachs overall carries his weight.
The only part of the book this month that doesn’t really work that well is the subplot involving Oracle and Proxy. It’s hard to keep from feeling that when scripts were trimmed down from 22 to 20 pages that this is what got cut. Not only is it partially a story from “Birds of Prey” bleeding into “Batgirl,” but the two characters in the blink of an eye go from “not speaking” to, apparently, “everything’s all better now.” If the first half of this issue’s pages with Oracle and Proxy had appeared last month, it might not have felt so jarring here, but instead it feels like we go from problem to solution in a matter of seconds.
Overall, though, it’s another entertaining issue of “Batgirl,” the little comic that could. It may just keep plugging away in the corner, doing its own thing, but overall that seems to be working to its advantage. Fun stuff.