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Batgirl #18 - The Mask of Ashes Review

3

It's Batgirl vs James Gordon Jr and check out what happens when Barbara finds out about a certain death.

The Good

Batgirl is literally thrown into the fire as she does her best to save people in a building full of explosives. This is Batgirl being a hero. We see her laying her life on the line for others. During this, we get to see more of James Jr, plotting his next move against her. It's a little creepy, in a good way, seeing how he observes her and the thoughts going through his head.

This issue also touches on the recent loss Batman is going through. It's handled in a great way. You almost want to see more but because this is Batgirl's book, what we see is the right amount of emotion from the bearer of the news. Ray Fawkes handles this nicely and does a great job with James Jr's thoughts. Daniel Sampere also does a great job showing Barbara recovering from taking a beating. We don't often see the heroes bandaging themselves or suffer from scrapes and bruises.

The Bad

Even though we have Batman Incorporated in the DCU, seeing a bunch of spectators cheering on Batgirl or proclaiming her to be a hero just felt like a bit much. I can understand the public being aware of them but I'm still used to them working more in the shadows.

The main villain Batgirl was facing, Firebug, just didn't come across as that compelling of a foe. His focus in the story felt more like a hindrance of the James Jr or Robin parts.

The Verdict

Ray Fawkes takes over and we get to see Batgirl thrown into some heated action. As she takes on Firebug, her brother, James Jr, continues to plot her demise. It's a crazy game of cat-and-mouse mixed in with some fallout from BATMAN INCORPORATED #8. We get a nice outside view of the tragic events which leaves you craving more. It's great seeing a superhero comic where the hero actually shows signs of being in a fight. With Firebug being the main threat in the issue, it almost feels like his story is getting in the way as we want to see more on James Jr or on the fallout. The stage is being set and we should have an interesting showdown next issue.

18 Comments
Edited by Ravager4

A great job with James' thoughts? I couldn't stand them, myself. He was narrating everything happening to us in a really hammy way, telling instead of showing in the most blatant way possible, even stuff that he couldn't possibly know. How does he know what she's doing in her van when he's running around trying to find their mother? That made no sense.

Edited by Fantasgasmic

Another item for The Bad should be the cover! It's not that it's poorly drawn or colored, because it looks good. But Babs had exactly ZERO interactions with Damian in the New52, and this issue had next to NOTHING to do with her being affected by his death. If this was Steph, it would make more sense as a cover, and she hated the little brat.

Posted by TeamUnitedNerds

Ugh, this was painful. Did Simone leave the book?

Posted by Ravager4

@TeamUnitedNerds: For two issues, she returns next month

Posted by JakeN7

@Fantasgasmic said:

Another item for The Bad should be the cover! It's not that it's poorly drawn or colored, because it looks good. But Babs had exactly ZERO interactions with Damian in the New52, and this issue had next to NOTHING to do with her being affected by his death. If this was Steph, it would make more sense as a cover, and she hated the little brat.

Well technically, Stephanie Brown never got the chance to meet Damian in the New 52. Their pre-Flashpoint interactions were numerous, but we're not even sure if Steph still exists.

I liked the cover a lot myself, I just wish they spent more than four panels on Babs reacting to Damian's death. She shed one single tear and was basically like "that sucks" as she shrugs her shoulders. I know the writers on all the Bat-books have stories they've had planned out and want to tell, I just wish they could take an issue to truly acknowledge Damian's death and have a month of mourning (which I had initially thought "Requiem" was.) Besides, whether or not we've seen Babs directly talk to Damian doesn't matter. They're both immediate members of the Bat-Family, and thus, are like family themselves. Hell, both Damian and Babs survived a harrowing, near-death experience at the hands of the Joker together. And in Batman and Batgirl (or Batman and Robin #21) I'm sure their relationship will be reflected upon, and those four panels we saw in this issue of Batgirl will most likely be expanded upon.

Edited by arnoldoaad

@TeamUnitedNerds said:

Ugh, this was painful. Did Simone leave the book?

yes she did, dont ever get this book again and dont look for solicits or anything like that

@Fantasgasmic said:

Another item for The Bad should be the cover! It's not that it's poorly drawn or colored, because it looks good. But Babs had exactly ZERO interactions with Damian in the New52, and this issue had next to NOTHING to do with her being affected by his death.

yeah the same happens with the issue, when she starts crying about the news I just couldnt stop thinking "you meet the guy once"

though the execution of how Batman tells Gordon and then Gordon tells babs because he is worried about his daughter was really well done

If this was Steph, it would make more sense as a cover, and she hated the little brat.

she didnt hated him it was more like an older sister/little brother relationship

Posted by akbogert

I love Gail Simone. I'm glad she's coming back. I didn't like the last issue much, and I didn't even bother picking this one up.

But frankly Fawkes got put in one of the crappiest situations ever. Every Bat writer got kinda handed a raw deal, but consider Fawkes: you've got two issues. The first one immediately follows the biggest event to happen in this continuity, and you're expected to come in as a replacement and somehow grapple with that. The second one immediately follows the death of Robin, and again, you're expected to deal with that -- even though the lead of your book has never shown any interest in the character before. Oh, did we mention you also have to try to tell your own story and explain the mysterious motivations of the protagonist's long-lost brother whom a different writer was slowly working into the series and you know nothing about because of that?

Seriously, poor guy.

Posted by arnoldoaad

@akbogert said:

I love Gail Simone. I'm glad she's coming back. I didn't like the last issue much, and I didn't even bother picking this one up.

But frankly Fawkes got put in one of the crappiest situations ever. Every Bat writer got kinda handed a raw deal, but consider Fawkes: you've got two issues. The first one immediately follows the biggest event to happen in this continuity, and you're expected to come in as a replacement and somehow grapple with that. The second one immediately follows the death of Robin, and again, you're expected to deal with that -- even though the lead of your book has never shown any interest in the character before. Oh, did we mention you also have to try to tell your own story and explain the mysterious motivations of the protagonist's long-lost brother whom a different writer was slowly working into the series and you know nothing about because of that?

Seriously, poor guy.

being fair i dont think he was suppose to explain his motivations at all, is not his fault that Gail expend 9 months teasing a character he doesnt even know how to write in the first place

Posted by akbogert

@arnoldoaad: I'm just saying it seems to me that having Fawkes handle Jimmy Jr. at all was probably an editorial decision, not Fawkes saying "yeah, I can do this, this is a good idea."

Posted by arnoldoaad

@akbogert said:

@arnoldoaad: I'm just saying it seems to me that having Fawkes handle Jimmy Jr. at all was probably an editorial decision, not Fawkes saying "yeah, I can do this, this is a good idea."

still, what he did with the character is 10 times better than what Gail did with him for all this time

Gail thinks that having him use fake granades as a twist to having him a real granade makes him look clever

Posted by NightRunner

I think some of you are giving this book a hard time I thought this was pretty good. I would consider that the writer was balancing the fallout from both Death in the Family and Daimens Death in this issue. I thought they did this well while staying true to this story arch

Posted by Fantasgasmic

@arnoldoaad said:

@Fantasgasmic said:

If this was Steph, it would make more sense as a cover, and she hated the little brat.

she didnt hated him it was more like an older sister/little brother relationship

I know, I was just saying that they were very antagonistic to each other, but deep down she loved him, and it would make sense for her to be

@JakeN7 said:

@Fantasgasmic said:

Another item for The Bad should be the cover! It's not that it's poorly drawn or colored, because it looks good. But Babs had exactly ZERO interactions with Damian in the New52, and this issue had next to NOTHING to do with her being affected by his death. If this was Steph, it would make more sense as a cover, and she hated the little brat.

Well technically, Stephanie Brown never got the chance to meet Damian in the New 52. Their pre-Flashpoint interactions were numerous, but we're not even sure if Steph still exists.

I know it's no longer canon, but we read those stories, and those characters had an on-panel relationship, so if Steph mourned Damian it would make sense. Barbara is shown mourning that kid she maybe talked to once during Night of the Owls, and was tied up at a table with a little while ago. But I know, covers having nothing to do with the story is nothing new.

Posted by X9

@Ravager4 said:

A great job with James' thoughts? I couldn't stand them, myself. He was narrating everything happening to us in a really hammy way, telling instead of showing in the most blatant way possible, even stuff that he couldn't possibly know. How does he know what she's doing in her van when he's running around trying to find their mother? That made no sense.

...cause he's a phsycho...that's what they do and how they behave. Plus, James' intelect is as great as Barbara's, but he uses it for other purposes.

You really should watch more police series....

Posted by Ravager4
@X9 and you should try to not sound so condescending, as if this is something everyone should just know. And even if that were so, it doesn't make the writing any less painful to read. I don't need to be told Batgirl is putting on her armor or whatever, the art is there to show us that. It doesn't make James knowing exactly what she's doing when he isn't there any less ridiculous either. He shouldn't be narrating what she's doing in her van because he couldn't know exactly what she's doing at that moment, it just doesn't make sense.
Posted by Mbecks14

I really love this cover

Posted by irishking44

Did anyone else think that Batman outed Batgirl to her dad for a second? That would have been much more interesting and not unreasonable of a thing from him to do considering he wouldn't want Gordon to have to go through what he is now

Posted by Kal'smahboi

I actually really liked this issue. I think it deserves 4 or even 4.5 stars.

Posted by TeamUnitedNerds

@arnoldoaad said:

@akbogert said:

@arnoldoaad: I'm just saying it seems to me that having Fawkes handle Jimmy Jr. at all was probably an editorial decision, not Fawkes saying "yeah, I can do this, this is a good idea."

still, what he did with the character is 10 times better than what Gail did with him for all this time

Gail thinks that having him use fake granades as a twist to having him a real granade makes him look clever

Simone is still overall better than him