WARNING! Spoilers and discussions of plot points ahead!
Batgirl #14 is dark, complicated and absolutely twisted! This is everything one would expect from a comic book featuring the full-fledged return of The Joker into Barbara Gordon’s life. Gail Simone and her team continue to shine in this ‘Death Of The Family’ tie-in.
Issue #14 begins with Barbara on the floor, clutching the telephone, panicking after just having heard her mother being attacked on the other end of the line by a trio of thugs. The line goes dead, but she is immediately called back by someone using a voice distortion unit who proceeds to force her to jump through a series of ridiculous hoops that serve to reiterate to Barbara that the caller is the one in control. However, when those thugs arrive at Barbara’s door, she gives way to her rage and shows them she’s no longer the scared, inexperienced younger version of herself she once was by giving them a thorough beating. The voice on the phone returns to deliver the news that he’s pleased with her reaction and indicates he knows her secret identity. He then leads her to the location where her mother is being held and to her first face-to- face confrontation with The Joker since she was shot in the spine and paralyzed. From here, things go into full-on Joker mode. We learn his motivations for returning to Gotham, what he plans for Batman and how those plans involve Batgirl. Suffice it to say, those motives and plans are plenty twisted.
This issue of Batgirl is a gem from start to finish. The psychology of this issue was all around fantastic. I loved Barbara’s transformation from panicked victim sitting on her living room floor to her remembering all she had regained since she had once again donned the mantle of Batgirl and using that strength to her advantage. Simone also wrote the The Joker in a way that effectively portrayed him as the maniacal lunatic he’s meant to be. The art in this issue is superb as well. From the terror in Barbara’s face on the first page to the anguish in her eyes as she’s made to follow the caller’s instructions to the determination in her whole posture as she decides to fight back, the artists did an excellent job conveying the emotion of the moments. They also did an outstanding job with The Joker himself; he looks truly creepy and demented in every single frame. His leering face and psychotically earnest expressions enhance the excellently written dialogue in significant ways. (By the way, The Joker wearing old school roller skates with pink pom-poms on top is absolutely creep-tastic! I may never look at skates the same way again.) Everything was very well done indeed.
Batgirl #14 is a fabulous, psychologically complex, action-packed ride and I can’t wait to see where it goes next. As a side note, this story also dovetails nicely with the events in ‘Batman’ #14. Highly recommended.
Writen by Gail Simone
Art by Ed Benes & Daniel Sampere