Warning! Spoilers from past issues and discussions of plot points ahead!
‘Batgirl’ #13… let me just say wow! This issue covers a lot of ground. Not only does it serve as a prologue to the much hyped “Death of the Family” crossover event in which The Joker returns to the DC Universe, it continues the Knightfall storyline and adds some fuel to the proverbial fire. As the story begins, we pick up right where issue #12 left off, in the present timeline, with Knightfall standing over a bloody, stabbed Batgirl. As Knightfall presides over the seemingly defeated Batgirl, we learn more of the backstory of a young Charise Carnes, who, as a girl, was motivated to succeed by a desire to make her corrupt and powerful father proud. As the story unfolds, we find how and why Carnes intentionally had herself committed to Arkham Asylum and about her eventual transformation into Knightfall. I felt these motivations and events were particularly interesting in light of the revelations found in Batgirl’s origin Story as presented in issue #0. In many ways, it’s as if Knightfall is something of a dark mirror of Batgirl. As the story weaved to a close, Gail Simone skillfully included elements from the entire New 52 run, including past villains, more unfolding of the sinister scheming of James Gordon, and maybe even possible hints of Barbara as Oracle (!?!) that seemed to bring things full circle and also previewed more to come.
The artwork in issue #13 is rich and vibrant. The portrayal of the action sequences is crisp, intense and believable. Ed Benes’ use of multiple panels to show Batgirl using a desk to drag herself up of the floor, bloody, beaten and hunched over, yet determined to fight was quite well done and effective. This sequence really conveyed the emotion of the moment and the tone of the fight overall. Oh, and one note about the cover the team at DC is using for “Death of the Family” event: I actually said “Oh!” out loud when I first saw the startling, stitched, leatherface-like mask that was over the regular cover of the comic. (The same mask-cover is also over the cover of ‘Batman’ #13.) If that’s the reaction they were going for, I guess they got it out of me!
In my opinion, for fans of Barbara Gordon, this action-packed, psychologically rich issue is not to be missed! I look forward to seeing where Gail Simone takes Batgirl’s story next!
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Ed Benes
Cover by Ed Benes