Batgirl #43

"Batgirl" #43 is another reminder that this series has quickly become a dependable part of the DC Comics lineup. From tigers and activists to wanna-be Batgirls and bridal dresses, Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr, Juan Castro and Michel Lacombe manage to juggle several different plots and tones in this issue, and they all work excellently.

The pacing in "Batgirl" #43 works really well. Fletcher and Stewart's script has a good balance right from the start, moving from a surprise tiger attack to a two-page sequence that gives Barbara and Alysia some personal time together, which simultaneously leads into the superhero portion of the comic. It's that juggling of the costumed and real-life threads that is so admirable; both get a lot of page time (it helps that the two often intersect) but one is never at the expense of the other. Characterization isn't sacrificed for action or vice versa. When a second Batgirl makes her debut in this issue, it's two threads twisting and merging together in a manner that feels natural even as it's slightly unexpected because Fletcher and Stewart are subverting the readers' initial impression on where that character's storyline is heading.

Stewart and Fletcher's story also doesn't lose sight of some of the basic hallmarks of their run; there's a combination of elements that include high tech, activism and good intentions gone wrong. The book feels current without ever having to look like it's trying too hard. In many ways, that's one of my favorite parts of "Batgirl" these days; it comes across fresh rather than forced, because the ultra-modern elements are just as easily background material as they are front and center in the plot. It's also a pleasure to see Fletcher and Stewart continue to engage both in the book's history as well as the DC Universe in general; having Alysia (a major supporting character for the title before the duo took over) in the center of the story is a prime example, as are appearances from established characters like Luke Fox.

Tarr's art is great, and she works well with Juan Castro (inking a handful of pages) and Michel Lacombe (assisting on breakdowns). The first page is executed perfectly, shifting through the deserted office in a way that not only brings to life the empty nature of the building but also gives a slow reveal of the menacing tiger that most definitely should not be there. The fear on the victim's face is brought to life well, and even little moments like the darker colors used by Serge Lapointe shine (or, rather, don't shine), helping set the mood. From pouts to gapes, everyone's faces just sell the story and the emotions that we're told about, and it's hard to believe that this series is Tarr's first major assignment in the comics industry because of the level of expertise brought here.

"Batgirl" #43 is another fun installment of a strong series. Fletcher and Stewart continue to surprise with the book's plots and supporting cast, and Tarr and company delight as the action bursts onto the page. If you're not reading "Batgirl" yet, this is as good a chance as any to fix that error.

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