Bryan Q. Miller delivers in “Batgirl” #24 a powerful, inspiring, and emotionally satisfying ending to his little series that could, cut short before its time.
In this issue, Stephanie is facing off with her father at Blackgate Prison. During their argument he subjects her to the Black Mercy plant, which operates as an intense hallucinogen, putting Stephanie in a state of euphoric fantasy. Fortunately, before she goes down, and ever the inventive professional, Steph traps her father in a “goop batarang.” Most of the book is spent showing a life of Stephanie as Batgirl, a life readers now won’t get to see. It’s a smart choice on Miller’s part to give fans what they so desperately craved, but taking the high road and allowing it all to appear sweet instead of bitter. Miller makes sure to hit all the necessary beats, and ties things up nicely for fans with Stephanie’s relationship with both her mother and Oracle, key figures in her book and her life. Bringing her father back so that Stephanie can get some closure herself on that matter, no matter how unsatisfying it may be, is a nice touch as well.
Bryan Q. Miller is a writer that came out of nowhere for me. I wasn’t familiar with his television work or limited comics work before he took on “Batgirl” and I was firmly anti-Stephanie Brown (to an almost insane degree) before the book launched in the fall of 2009. But Miller worked wonders with this character and, even though at times the book lacked the punch I sometimes wanted – a more substantial story and a stronger rogue’s gallery – the character work Miller did with Stephanie Brown was exceptional. He found a strong and distinctive voice for Stephanie and explored a much needed lighter side to the Bat franchise, creating one of the best superhero books for young women we’ve seen in recent years and turning even the most skeptical of readers into fans.
Pere Perez is the best I’ve seen him yet in this issue. I don’t know if that’s just because he’s pulling out all the stops on this final issue, but it’s the best his work has looked on this series. Given free reign to show some blissful peeks at what Stephanie sees on the Black Mercy drug, he gives us fan service at its best. I confess part of me would have preferred a more trippy Sienkiewicz style for the fantasies, but that wouldn’t have been a good fit tonally for what this book is and has been, so Perez’s take is fitting and supremely enjoyable.
As readers we’ve been lucky that some writers were given the opportunity to close their books up nicely, before the re-launch, some of course were not so lucky :: cough “Birds of Prey” cough ::, but Miller does the best of any that I’ve seen thus far (with the exception of “Detective Comics”) and gives readers something satisfying and emotional, personal and proud, for both the book and the character. Miller’s love for the character and book is palpable on the page, and you can’t ask for more than that.