It’s her best friend’s wedding day and Barbara Gordon thinks she has everything under control, until a face from Batgirl’s past returns and throws her for a loop.

BATGIRL #45 by Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, and Babs Tarr

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After months of buildup, BATGIRL #45 begins on Alysia Yeoh’s wedding day. Barbara Gordon, serving as Alysia’s Maid of Honor, is meticulously solving any small problem that comes up, from hemming dresses to fixing jewelry with her “wedding emergency” pack. After sharing an emotional moment with her soon to be betrothed best friend, Babs goes to check on her date for the evening, Luke Fox. The two flirt back and forth a bit, but before they can kiss they’re interrupted by none other than Dick Grayson.

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After Barbara and Luke compose themselves from the sight of a man they thought dead, Dick invites Barbara to join him on the roof so he can explain all that’s happened, and she eventually agrees, much to Luke’s chagrin. Once on the roof, Dick and Barbara get into an altercation over his choice to appear on Alysia’s wedding day, and really his actions in general. She attempts to leave, only to discover that Dick has absconded with the wedding ring Barbara was holding on to for safe keeping. She demands he return it, but he responds by leaping of the roof and challenging her to follow. Removing her Batgirl uniform from the emergency pack, Barbara does just that.

READ: Need to catch up on BATGIRL? Check out our issue #44 review here!

The two eventually end up at the spot where they first met, and reminisce about how Batgirl saved an overconfident Robin from Killer Moth that night. Dick then confesses that he regrets having to keep his survival a secret, but that Spyral protocols made it necessary (for full information on what Dick is up to, check out DC’s series GRAYSON). He goes on to tell Barbara that the thought of her is what keeps him going and grounded, before moving in for a kiss. She rebukes him however, saying that while she is glad he’s alive she’s found stability and happiness in her life, and he should be happy for her. Dick reluctantly agrees, and the two part amicably.

Barbara returns to the wedding just in time, and the ceremony goes off without a hitch. During the reception (the soundtrack to which is provided by the hottest band in the nation: Black Canary) Barbara and Luke share a dance and he tells her that he understands why she went off with Dick earlier and completely forgives her. Unbeknownst to either of them, a melancholy Grayson watches from a nearby rooftop. Later that night Barbara returns home from the wedding and passes out, only to have an ominous figure watch her as she sleeps, ending the otherwise happy issue on a sinister cliffhanger.

BATGIRL #45 had two distinct challenges going against it; one being that wedding issues tend to be hard to pull off successfully in comics, and two the challenge of Dick and Barbara’s first meeting post his “death”, since their relationship is always a hot topic amongst fans. Given their history, it shouldn’t be surprising at all that writers Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher handle both swimmingly.  The wedding (the first set of transgender nuptials I can ever remember seeing in a Big 2 comic) is done very well. The decor, ambiance, and ceremony itself fit with the characters of Alysia and Jo, and provide genuine emotion without coming off manipulative or cloying. The meeting between Grayson and Gordon is a trickier subject, but I personally believe the writers go with the best possible scenario, namely that Barbara is happy that Dick’s alive but at this moment in their lives she’s not looking for anything romantic with him.

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From a characterization standpoint, the issues focuses almost exclusively on Barbara, and the creative team does a great job taking us through the various emotions and reactions she’d have. Her intense desire to make everything perfect for Alysia and Jo down to the smallest detail is not only perfectly fitting with her Type-A personality, it also makes it all the apparent how far off her game Dick’s reappearance throws her. Her reactions are also very sensical, as she’s initially angry at Dick, but eventually comes around to being relived and happy that she’s alive, even more so than she outwardly lets on. It also fits perfectly into her characterization in this run that she would shoot down Dick’s romantic gesture, as she is genuinely happy with her life and relationships right now.

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While not as prominent as Barbara’s, Dick Grayson’s characterization in the book also popped out as interesting to me. During my initial reading I actually thought he was acting a bit out of character, quite frankly as a bit of a jerk. However on a second look, I realized that he was acting the way he did when he and Barbara were younger, perhaps trying to recapture the spark of their relationship and a part of his youth after his return from the “grave.” While this isn’t an excuse for his behavior, especially his antics with the ring, it at least exposes the reasoning behind it.

READ: Check out our NYCC EXCLUSIVE Interview with BATGIRL artist Babs Tarr here!

It’s no secret that we at Comicsverse are big fans of Babs Tarr’s artwork on this book, and BATGIRL #45 may be the best example yet of what she does best. I’ve said in the past that Tarr’s biggest strength is emotional, real life moments and this book is chock-full of them. The wedding scenes are beautifully drawn, especially Alysia’s appearance in her wedding dress,  and actually have a fair amount of realism to them even with Tarr’s cartoony (in the best possible way) style. Speaking of emotional, the facial expressions she gives Barbara when she first see’s Dick and their initial rooftop conversation are really well done, and totally convey the mix of shock, anger, and relief the character would be feeling. All that being said, Tarr does knock the book’s “action sequence” out of the park as well, chase scenes with Batgirl and Grayson plays more like ariel ballet than typical super-heroic movements.

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Last week I declared GOTHAM ACADEMY #11 my favorite book of October, but after reading BATGIRL #45 I fear I may have jumped the gun. While I can’t say for certain this issue is better than that one, it’s pretty close. The writers crafted a logical, well-told emotional story that’s only aided by the absolutely sensational artwork.

What did you think of BATGIRL #45? Let us know in the comments below, or on Twitter @Comicsverse

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