Best Shots Review: BATGIRL #45

"Batgirl #45" preview
Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics

Batgirl #45
Written by Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher
Art by Babs Tarr and Serge LaPointe
Lettering by Steve Wands
Published by DC Comics
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

Barbara Gordon may have a lot of weapons in her utility belt, but there's nothing more powerful in Batgirl's arsenal than her charm. For most comic book, a wedding interlude might seem like a snooze, but thanks to Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr, Batgirl #45 turns into a heartfelt reunion between Barbara and her one-time main squeeze, Dick Grayson. While this is territory that has already been explored over in Grayson, this creative team happens to perfect it, giving us a great emotional hook to go with the status quo changes.

Credit: DC Comics

In many ways, DC's status quo has hinged largely on the revamps of Barbara and Dick, and so it's particularly compelling to see the two of them interacting once more. Of course, these two characters have changed dramatically over the last year - with Dick aging up as a globe-trotting superspy, while Barbara has leaned towards a more millennial bent as a fun-loving grad student - to the point where you might not recognize their chemistry anymore.

But not this creative team.

From the minute you see Dick Grayson sliding through the window, he absolutely smolders, as Babs Tarr makes Grayson look as hunky as he's ever been, with his prominent eyelashes and his impossibly perfect torso.

And that sets us up for an interesting dynamic here. Stewart and Fletcher actually subvert Dick Grayson's meteoric rise as a critical darling - because he's actually the villain of this book. Not that Grayson is twirling his mustache here, but ultimately this is a superheroic twist on a classic love triangle, as he crashes Barbara's date with former Batwing Luke Fox, looking to rekindle things with his former flame. Sure, there's a bit of obligatory action here, as Tarr has them race over rooftops and even exchange a judo toss, but it's all spurred by some surprisingly insightful character study of Grayson, as he swipes the bride's wedding ring to get Barbara's attention - sure, he might be more down-to-Earth than Batman, but Stewart and Fletcher also know that he's a handsome guy who's used to doted upon by Bruce, Alfred, Tim and the rest of the gang. He's clueless to the idea that his timing is awful, or that he might be acting extremely infuriating, or that other people have lives that go on even when he's not in Gotham. Self-absorbed much, Hunk Wonder?

Stewart and Fletcher aren't cruel about it, but they let Babs really stick up for herself - "You can't come back, turn my life upside down and expect me to fall into your arms just because you smile at me." She's not going to be tied down by expectations - either Dick's, or readers' - and that ultimately makes her future look that much more exciting. When you combine this with the early chemistry that Luke and Barbara share towards the beginning of the book - who knew tying a bow could be so sexy? - and you have Stewart and Fletcher showing respect to a wonderful chapter in Barbara's past, but ultimately turning the page to new romantic adventures.

If there's anything that might detract a bit from this issue, it's that the wedding itself - which includes a trans female, which is absolutely historic for a Big Two comic book - feels a little drawn-out, even though Tarr draws it beautifully. But a few slower pages isn't enough to stop a superstar issue of Batgirl, one that brings together two of DC's best and brightest characters, and absolutely does them justice. This creative team has done a lot of great things with Barbara Gordon, but this wedding issue definitely takes the cake.

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