After a break for Convergence, Batgirl is back with a new villain, a new colorist, and most of all, the first real look about how Jim Gordon’s Batman affects the relationship around him. But Batgirl #41 is still both Babs’ show as readers get to see fight crime as well as interact with her roommate Frankie (who is taking on an Oracle type role) and her dad. Artist Babs Tarr also takes over both layouts and pencils and gives the comic the rush of a Saturday morning cartoon using slanted panels and slightly larger gutters to give her acrobatic style an additional “oomph”. Joel Gomez (most likely) helps out in some of the interior scenes adding details to the arcade where Babs and Frankie hang out, and the haunted house-type environment that makes up the first page of the comic, and Gotham Academy colorist Serge Lapointe give Tarr’s art a Studio Ghibli-esque palette like that series.
Writers Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher infuse Batgirl #41 with an extra dose of fun to start the new story arc. There’s some fun banter, a quick paced plot, and a cold open that’s part Scooby Doo, part Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and maybe even a tiny bit Batman Beyond once Batman’s high tech suit decides to join the party. Tarr combines the time-honored Gothic aesthetic Batman (probably utilized best in Gotham Academy) with the high tech hijinks of the last arc. Stewart and Fletcher play the new version of Livewire (whose new redesign melds Bruce Timm’s original with a manga twist) for laughs while putting the emotional onus on the conflict between Batman and Batgirl, which is now a literal family squabble.
Tarr and Lapointe capture the warm relationship between Barbara and her dad in a series of brightly illustrated pages that might be the highlight of Batgirl #41. The colors are golden, green, and full of life as Tarr shows Gotham at its most idyllic. The scene almost feels like a dream, but Fletcher and Stewart’s honest writing reveals the miniscule thread that their relationship is sitting upon. The Gordons have a believable rapport as Babs makes playfully sarcastic cracks about the loss of Jim’s famous mustache. However, there’s a wistful irony in their words as Jim tells Babs about his new work as Batman. It’s the quiet counterpart to the iconic full page splashes of Batman swooping into action with painter-like lines and a composition style that reminded me of the title cards of Batman: The Animated Series episodes.
Batgirl #41 has the emotional core and strong action found in the best episodes of the DCAU as well the lively art of Babs Tarr. Tarr uses the shape of the panel to dictate the speed and force of a scene from sharp rectangles for Batgirl tumbling and kicking Livewire’s cultish goons to squares and rectangles running together for her night out with Frankie. Stewart and Fletcher kickstart a plot rooted in key relationships while also introducing a cult villain to new audiences. Batgirl #41 is superhero comic that is fun, meaningful, and action packed.