Ghosts? That’s new. Well…it’s nothing really supernatural other than we had no idea where this comic was going in terms of the overall story line of Batgirl Rebirth. Then again, we have applaud Hope Larson for trying something new, because new is something that this comic desperately needs.
While the last arc certainly had a decent ending, it came as more relief that it was finally over more than anything. This issue ended up being a nice little interlude between arcs that we really didn’t have invest much into. This made it that more enjoyable when compared to the last few issues. Whether it is setting up to have more relevance in later issues, we can’t really tell; I do hope that the main victim of this story will have more appearances though. It is rare for a writer to simply just put in a character and build on them only to ignore them completely, but we will see.
The last time we saw Batgirl, she was fighting against her evil ex-kind of-boyfriend in order to release the citizens of Burnside from his control. Using data mining and social media as a catalyst from brainwashing, he completely turned the entire city against his father, the Penguin, and Batgirl. Yet, in order to finally get the jump on him, Babs realized she needed to get him away from his technology and into an internet dead zone. By using his emotional instability, she dressed as Dick Grayson as a lure, and after they fought for a bit, she fried his suit using a new weapon. Unfortunately it backfired a little, and Ethan barely survived, sporting a massive amount of third degree burns. In the epilogue, we saw Penguin finally accept as a son, and kidnap him from the hospital.
As I said, this issue was merely just a stepping stone between storylines, and had more of a fun and exciting story that was short and pretty enjoyable, even if it was in a laughable way.
We begin by seeing Batgirl and the Burnside Y with a host of TV personalities that belong to a TV show similar to Ghost Hunters. The content clearly is making fun of how serious and over the top some can be as well as sometimes their lack of anything concrete. Anyway, it turns out that the gym’s pool has been experiencing a purple phenomenon floating around whenever a large amount of people are in it and scaring them out of their wits. So of course, somehow Barbara gets pulled into help with the reality TV crew.
Things get interesting once Babs gathers that whatever this thing is, it is attracted to large groups of people, since that is when it chooses to appear. Even with the TV crew there’s still not enough people around to draw its attention, so Babs takes a sample of the water and take as scientific approach as possible. Of course, yet another swipe at reality Television (or rather paranormal reality television), we are given a pretty annoying host who is completely but vainly invested in the theme. Clearly ratings on her person are what are most important.
After some digging around, Babs deduces who the “ghost” could be. When she takes her samples to a friend at University they get a chemist to see if any anomalies are in the water. Nothing turns up but she refers her to a physicist who might be able to give her more answers. This scientist is a man who once wanted to mentor Barbara, but when she means mentor, she actually means just get with one of his more attractive students. Turns out he was working on something related to teleporting a human and…oh hey what do you know: his assistant, Luna Soto, went missing. She is probably the “ghost” and this has something to do with the machine he was working on.
After figuring out that he indeed did this and also basically stole her work, she figures out a way to get her back. She is drawn to people’s energy because it will allow her to rematerialize. So Batgirl hosts a pool party with the TV producers to get lots of bodies into the pool. The host of course, is being as insufferable as she can, but it is hilarious to see Batgirl in a…Batgirl Swimsuit.
By the end of the comic Luna is back without much memory of what it was like to be, wherever she was. She does confirm that he stole her work and tried to get rid of her by testing the machine on her. The book closes with Barbara giving her a job with Gordon Clean Energy, and wondering if it was unethical to hack the camera that fused in Luna’s mind when she rematerialized.
It is always a pleasure to see Eleonora Carlini at work. Together with Cris Peters color schemes, we get a transition from normalcy to the paranormal with uses of dark shading and lots of purples and blues, which give off the theme of the paranormal really well and creates an atmosphere of not so much horror, but very curious science fiction. The facial expressions still come off as a little anime-like, but that isn’t really a criticism considering this comic is targeted more for lighthearted reading than dark and mysterious as some other titles. Though to be fair it was more realistic when it needed to be, especially when concerning the backgrounds and overall mood.
Honestly this was a pretty fun read. It was witty, sarcastic, and even though it was not action packed, it made up for that with an interesting story. After being invested in a not so great previous arc, it was nice to have some breathing room and remember while Hope Larson isn’t a terrible writer, we can expect greater things from her in the next arc, which has teased some Catwoman.
Fun and playful can always make a comic great and easy to read, but I really want to see Batgirl and Barbara return to her glory days—anything other than the Batgirl of Burnside.