I've always seen Barbara Gordon as a truly kick ass character. She came a long way in the pre-New 52 as Batgirl and Oracle after she was shot by the Joker. It's been over a year and it is still a little strange seeing her back in her Batgirl attire. Because of the overall direction of the New 52 universe, Barbara has felt as if she lost a little of her edge. That changes with this issue.
The idea of a cross title crossover story dealing with the Joker is fascinating as he has specific reason for going after each member of the Bat-Family. With Barbara, this is a confrontation you won't want to miss. With the change in the timeline and how little she's had to deal with being shot and paralyzed, the event is still fresh and the (mental) wounds may not have fully healed. Throw in her mom being placed in danger after she just started reconnecting with her, this is going to be a Batgirl Joker might regret dealing with.
Gail Simone does a great job with the psychological angle of the story. Every instinct in Barbara screams to go out and seek vengeance for what happened and to save her mother. With a nice twist, her hands are a little tied and she is forced to play by the rules of other. Of course there's also the big theme we're also seeing in this week's BATMAN as to what exactly does Joker know? If he does know Batgirl's secret identity, that makes him an even bigger threat than he normally would be.
Ed Benes and Daniel Sampere do a great job in the action scenes when Barbara's place is invaded. The scenes preceding the action, with the agony Barbara goes through in dealing with everything that is going on is great as well.
Aside from being a part of the "Death of the Family" crossover, it just felt like the overall vibe of the book was amped up in this issue.
I love a good twist as much as the next person. I'm really torn about a twist that happens in this issue. On the one hand, it's surprising and definitely opens up a new can of worms. On the other, it almost feels exploitive because of the character involved. That may not make sense to some but I am concerned with what the New 52 version of this character will be. It does make sense how the character is used in this context and I will definitely reserve full judgement until seeing how it all plays out.
While I did enjoy the opening and fight scenes, Barbara's mom and Joker looked a little off. This could be the result of two artists but Joker also (unfortunately) didn't look quite as creepy as he should in his present condition. He almost looked more comical than the fierce threat he should be right now. Sure, every artist has their own interpretation but as part of the overall crossover, it almost felt like a different Joker seen in the other books.
Barbara Gordon should be a character that kicks all sorts of ass and that's exactly what she does in this issue. We've been seeing a bit of a roller coaster ride as she's been getting back into the swing of things since recovering from being shot and paralyzed. This is the Barbara I want to see. Gail Simone does a great job showing the inner struggle in coming to terms and facing her demons and the Joker. She was a victim once and that was the last time. We've all been waiting for round two of Barbara vs Joker and this is just the beginning of that. The art is a mix of being really great throughout most of the issue with a couple moments it falls flat a little. You would think the return of the Joker would be a bad thing for Batgirl but it's showing that she is ready fully deal with what happened and is now ready to take on anyone that gets in her way.