Three years, that’s how long Gail Simone has been on DC’s New 52: Batgirl, making her the only female creator at the publisher to have stuck with a title for that long. Sure, there was the period back in December 2012 when things were uncertain and she was off the title, but she has helmed the series since its reboot regardless. And now it is coming to a close, and I find that I am not nearly ready for her to leave. Gail’s run on the title with the various artists that have come and gone has been fairly spectacular and as she leaves, she gives readers the best she had to offer with Batgirl #34.
Batgirl #34 is pretty much the end of the current creative team’s run on the title. I haven’t looked at the solicits for next month’s Future’s End special issue so I have no idea who is writing/drawing that issue, so I’m just gonna roll with that here. In the last few issues we’ve seen that Batgirl’s new nemesis Knightfall has finally begun to execute her long-held plans for Gotham into motion and that she is setting the stage for an epic war against crime and corruption in the city. Under Gail’s pen and Fernando’s pencil however, Knightfall is up against the greatest challenge of her life against Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl.
What kind of sucks is that with this issue, Gail ends her run on a second DC title this year. Earlier, she bid farewell to The Movement, a really amazing superhero comic that featured completely new characters and a completely new setting and which only lasted for 12 issues. Now she bids farewell to Batgirl and thankfully, her exit from this title is grander than her already-excellent exit from The Movement. And it is indeed fitting that Alex Garner delivers yet another fantastic cover to mark Gail’s exit. You can either take the cover as it is, or look at it metaphorically considering how the creative changes are happening very soon. To be honest, I would have preferred an ensemble-cast cover to mark the occasion, but I love this one too.
In this issue, we see the peak and end of the ongoing war between Knightfall and Batgirl, which began back in the second arc of Gail’s run, back in mid-2012. The two of them became instant enemies, for Knightfall intended to cleanse Gotham in a violent manner whereas Batgirl has no such inclinations. Their various clashes ever since, and even their team-up earlier this year, have all been setting the stage of this showdown and Gail executes it brilliantly. This time, Knightfall and her Disgraced have let loose on Gotham. Mercenary teams from all over the world have been brought in to claim bounties on all the wrong-doers in the city, with Knightfall having hired a few supervillains as well.
And in all of this, the best thing is that this issue features what is quite possibly the greatest female-led all-out battle in DC’s history. To counter all of Knightfall’s muscle, Barbara calls in all the favours she owes her various friends, both normal humans and superheroes alike, and more besides. Heroes like Zatanna, Katana, Fairchild, Starfire, Raven, Skitter, Batwoman and others fight the good fight in Gotham and the entire imagery is just too good. And Gail even brought in members of The Movement in to help Barbara, and that really made my day. I loved The Movement and I’ve been waiting for them to come back in some way so this brief, brief teaser was helluva fun.
Still, the fight isn’t done until Barbara takes out Knightfall, a villain who is her equal in almost everything, and to counter her, Barbara relies on something intrinsic to her enemy’s personality. It is all a bit simple and all, but Gail successfully brings her entire run full circle and she ends things on a high, clearing the board for the incoming creative team for them to run with it all as they see fit.
In addition to penciller Fernando Pasarin, series regular Jonathan Glapion is joined by Matt Ryan on the inks while Blond handles the colours and Dezi Sienty handles the letters. With all the female awesomeness in this comic, the artists pretty much go all out and it is damn good fun to see so many of DC’s leading ladies, no matter what their status, featured here. It is like a meta-Birds of Prey team in play. Either way, no criticisms of the art because I loved every moment of it, and it all couldn’t be better.
I am really sad to see Gail and the others leave the title, but they had a grand time together, and that’s what this issue is all about!