"Batgirl" #52 wraps up not only this series, but the "Batgirl of Burnside" era for the character. While Brenden Fletcher, Eleonora Carlini and Minkyu Jung mix in a fun guest-appearance by the "Gotham Academy" cast for this final issue, "Batgirl" #52's big conclusion to the series comes across as more of an afterthought.
With Hope Larson and Rafael Albuquerque's upcoming "Batgirl" series moving the character across the globe, Fletcher was tasked with ending the character's time in the Burnside neighborhood of Gotham. Unfortunately, there's almost no transition to this moment. Most of the issue involves Batgirl and her allies trying to take down Gladius, and then there's a sudden jump-cut to a bon voyage party for Barbara. I do appreciate the inclusion of little inset panels flashing back to key moments for each character as Barbara says goodbye; it's the comic book equivalent to brief clips during a television show's series finale, and it's a nice reminder of who all of these people are. Still, it's so disconnected from the rest of the issue that it ultimately feels a little jarring without any lead-in.
The earlier part of the comic, where Batgirl and company take down Gladius, is slightly forgettable. Both Maps and Olive from "Gotham Academy" get a moment to shine without stealing the center stage from the actual cast of the comic, but there's nothing that stands out in the actual pursuit and fight against Gladius. There's a lot of chasing and a quick scuffle, and then it's over. Over the past couple of years, "Batgirl" has been inventive and unpredictable, but this comes across as superheroes by the numbers.
Carlini draws most of the issue and her art gets the story across well. The bon voyage party spotlights a great number of people without feeling overwhelming, and she handles the panel insets with aplomb. She's good at these sorts of spreads, with another early one giving us not only a birds-eye view of the Gotham Academy library, but also a nice overlay of the passages below it that the team uses to gain access to the hostages. Carlini is also good with the characters themselves; Olive and Maps come across the same way that Karl Kerschl had drawn them in their parent title, and the heroes look good too. Only the leader of Gladius looks a little cheesy with her ridiculous helmet, but at least that's just a holdover from a previous appearance. Jung steps in for four pages, and the transition is seamless -- if only all artistic assists could be so smooth!
"Batgirl" #52 is a so-so finale to a series that was typically so much better. Having to wind things down without most of the regular creative team must have been deflating, because it certainly comes across that way. This past run of "Batgirl" was exciting and innovative, but this issue just lacks that energy and fun. It's really just average, and readers have come to expect a bit more than that.