BATGIRL #14 BY HOPE LARSON, CHRIS WILDGOOSE, AND MAT LOPES
Characterization
Plot
Artwork
Summary
BATGIRL #14 is the beginning of "Summer of Lies." In this issue, we learn about a new past between Barbara and Dick. Hope Larson gives us confusing romance and a bit of a murder mystery, while Wildgoose and Lopes give us very cohesive artwork.
85 %
Much Needed Depth

BATGIRL #14 begins the newest story arc in the series, “Summer of Lies.” In this issue, Hope Larson entwines Batgirl and Nightwing as they work together to discover who is haunting them from their shared past. It’s always great seeing these two together, especially when the suppressed romantic tension is so high. Larson does a wonderful job portraying this while keeping the focus on the immediate plot. While the story’s immediate pace is a bit slow because of flashbacks, the drama and dialogue in BATGIRL #14 are absolutely amazing.

A Complex but Comprehensible Plot

The story starts off with Batgirl and Nightwing both finding each other on the same rooftop after receiving the same text. The two are ambushed by two identical women. What’s frightening is after a short scuffle, the two villains lock hands and jump off the roof, killing themselves. This immediately sets the tone of the story. While Batgirl is shaken, she can’t help but wonder why the faces of the two girls are bothering her. Nightwing affirms her suspicions: the women look like a girl named Ainsley, a former substitute teacher of Barbara’s. They then look at each other, and both think of the Mad Hatter. Why? We as readers will have to find out.

BATGIRL #14
Image courtesy of DC Comics

This is where the first flashback occurs. We find Barbara back in Gotham County High School, lost and confused after moving from Chicago. She winds up making good conversation with Ainsley Wells, the substitute in her tech class. A few more flashbacks like this occur, giving us more back story of Ainsley. We also learn the back story taking place is one of the first missions Barbara and Dick go on together (back when Dick was Robin) and it’s kind of cute seeing their flirtatious relationship blossoming. This is particularly interesting because we now see how complicated their relationship has become in the present. They bicker during fights, they gaze at each other at awkward moments, and they move on before a serious conversation can take place.

Old Tropes can Still be Fresh and Thrilling

I really love this issue. I’ve found the last two issues to be rather simplistic and childish, but “Summer of Lies” really seems promising. Larson is using mature themes (death, complicated love) to drive the plot. She also has created a bit of a mystery, and this in conjunction with flashbacks makes BATGIRL #14 a real page turner. The character chemistry is what I want to see in a Batgirl story, and the plot is intriguing. What more can you ask for?

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My only real criticism is actually what I love about BATGIRL #14. It’s become a bit of a trope to have Dick and Barbara go back and forth with each other. It seems pretty obvious that they won’t be together anytime soon, yet writers keep having them skirt around their feelings and complications. But, again, I also love this. It’s such classic drama, and I believe many of us can relate to these types of relationships. They’re so beautifully awful. They’re so human. So while it’s a tired theme in BATGIRL, it’s one that works and one I’m willing to give Larson the chance to add her own spin to.

The Artwork of BATGIRL #14

BATGIRL #14
Image courtesy of DC Comics

The artwork in this issue is simplistically cunning. Chris Wildgoose’s drawings are very smooth. I really enjoy the faces he gives characters, especially the surprised look Barbara has in her costume at various moments in the book. I also appreciate the Robin design he implements here, as I don’t think the story could have been taken so seriously if Robin were given his short shorts. Instead, he looks much like Tim Drake, and it adds a more stern tone to the back story. Of course, all this is assisted by Mat Lopes’ coloring, which is extremely cool and somber, especially in the nighttime scenes.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

If you’ve been skipping out on BATGIRL, now is a great time to jump onboard. Larson is reworking a fantasized past for our heroes, so it makes everything easier to follow. She also seems to be taking a more serious path with Barbara and that is something I love seeing. The series as a whole has been fantastic, but BATGIRL #14 ups the expectations I have for the book.

One Comment

  1. Mr Average

    August 24, 2017 at 2:10 am

    “Sumer” of Lies? 😉

    Reply

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