Review by Paul Bowler
Life’s just got a whole lot more complicated for Barbara Gordon. Her dad’s the new robo-suited Batman, her roommate, Frankie, knows her secret and wants to help Batgirl fight crime, and now Livewire is on the loose! Batgirl #42 continues the upheaval in Batgirl’s life, she’s already had a run in with the new Batman, now Batgirl’s got to contend with Livewire as well, and she’s looking to take down Batman and Batgirl in an electrifying showdown!
There’s no way Batgirl can evade the new Batman for long in DC Comics Batgirl #42, as writers Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher builds on the initial skirmish between Batgirl and the new Batman with another confrontation. However, Batman takes the opportunity to talk to Batgirl without the suits surveillance systems online. It seems Powers International has a policy that Gordon is clearly uneasy with, and he is willing to give Batgirl a chance. Seeing how Jim Gordon told Barbara that he was the new Batman last issue, it’s fascinating to see Batgirl interact with Batman in these circumstances while still maintaining her secret identity, and the way the discussion resonates emotionally with Barbara’s memories is handled beautifully.
With Frankie’s help, and a quick search of the web, Barbara soon gets the low down on Livewire and where to find her. Having her roommate in on her secret has its advantages. But after Frankie was injured last issue Barbara doesn’t want her doing fieldwork, so this time she provides backup for Batgirl via the com-link. Following a quick detour for some high-tech help, Batgirl is soon ready to join the fight as Batman takes on Livewire at the power plant.
The exciting story in Batgirl #42 is equally matched by Babs Tarr’s classic cartoony-style art, virtually every moment of Surge Protection leaps off the page at you in a flurry of frenetic scenes and marvellously designed page layouts. I especially liked the hazy thought-bubble-like flashback which opens this issue. Its great to see Batgirl working alongside the new Batman as well, especially as Jim gets to step outside the Bat-Bot this issue in his black and yellow trimmed Bat-EVA suit (which I actually prefer more than the robo-suit if I’m honest), while the scenes with Frankie and Barbara at the apartment are both emotional and tinged with humour.
It’s good to see Batgirl talking on this re-vamped Livewire. Batgirl crashes into the early stages of the fight between Batman and Livewire just at the right moment, the tactics that Batgirl employs quickly set the pace of the action, and the subsequent battle certainly packs an electrically charged punch. The colors by Serge Lapointe really stand out in these scenes, especially how the bright vivid tones and crackling energy highlights the kinetic action.
The new Batman and Batgirl make a good team, and I like how Batgirl gets to call some of the shots. Jim Gordon’s Batman still has a few signature Dark Knight moves that he needs to perfect, but he doesn’t do too badly – for a “rookie”! Batgirl #42 is an exciting and fun issue from Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher, with great art by Babs Tarr, the team-up between the new Batman and Batgirl is really well staged, and there’s even time to include a nice surprise for Barbara Gordon in the issues closing moments. Batgirl #42 is a great issue, the Batgirl Annual #3 is also out now as well, and I’d certainly recommend them both!