Batgirl #43 Review

Barbara Gordon’s personal and superhero lives collide in Batgirl #43, when several of [...]

Barbara Gordon's personal and superhero lives collide in Batgirl #43, when several of Barbara's friends become embroiled in a series of deadly tiger attacks on Burnside's burgeoning tech industry.

While Batgirl's last arc seemed to focus on Barbara's place in the new "DC You" Batman universe, Batgirl #43 returns the series to a more familiar mix of superheroics and twenty-something drama. A perfect entry place for new readers, Batgirl #43 effectively utilizes Barbara's entire supporting cast while organically establishing the latest drama for Batgirl and her friends to face.

One of the more endearing features of the Brenden Fletcher/Cameron Stewart/Babs Tarr run on Batgirl is the creative team's ability to fit nearly twice as much story and action into a single issue than the typical superhero book. All thanks are given to Batgirl's distinctly dense panel layout. On average, the creative team utilizing utilizes about 7.5 panels per page. This might not seem like much, but when compared to a book like Justice League #43, which uses only 4.5 panels per page, Batgirl feels much longer than its page-count suggests. With this dense layout, Babs Tarr, Cameron Stewart, and Brenden Fletcher weave together a multilayered plot that shows how the tiger attacks affect each of Batgirl's friends and allies differently, often in surprising and unexpected ways.

Not only does Batgirl efficiently employ every square inch of its space, it also takes full advantage of Tarr's artistic abilities and her ability to tell a story with body language and non-verbal cues. While there's plenty of dialogue in Batgirl, the artwork adds so much more. Worried glances, subtle blush and cartoonish grimaces provide more story and plot than any caption or word balloon ever would. The action in Batgirl continues to stand out, overflowing with energy and excitement. One three-page sequence captures a full range of emotion as Batgirl brashly insults a tiger before running away in terror, while another sequence cleverly uses a mixture of sound effects, arrows and sparkles to show off one of the more unique features of Batgirl's motorcycle.

The downside to Batgirl's dense layout is that the installment feels almost frantic at times, which means that some of the book's subtler plot points occasionally get lost as readers bounce from scene to scene without any time to catch their breath. There are a few transitions that are a little jarring, as if the panel establishing the start of the new scene was cut for space. At times, the artwork also looks a little rushed with a few panels looking rough and unfinished, which is particularly noticeable when compared to a more polished panel on the same page. This might be partially deliberate, considering the pace of Batgirl mirrors the frantic and rushed life of the book's heroine. Still, it's a shame that some readers may overlook some of Batgirl's most enjoyable sequences as the pace of the book urges readers to power through its pages.

With an intriguing new storyline, the promise of a new villain and Batgirl bear hugging and vaulting over angry tigers, Batgirl #43 continues one of the most unique and fun superhero books on the stands today. Current fans and new readers alike should find Batgirl #43 an enjoyable and engaging read.

Grade: B+