In BATGIRL #20, a massive storm has blanketed Gotham city in snow and plunged the temperature into a deep freeze. It’s no act of nature. So Batgirl is determined to track down the culprit behind the blizzard and find a stolen piece of technology capable of brainwashing the entire city. Warning, possible spoilers may be found below!

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The Story Of BATGIRL #20

So BATGIRL #20 opens with Batgirl in a snow-covered Burnside, a borough on the outskirts of Gotham City. She quickly realizes whoever hacked the weather satellites must have tampered with the GPS satellites as well. So with a map of Burnside committed to memory, Batgirl is able to navigate the city and locate the lab where her friend, Qadir, is.

The lab is completely ransacked and project 760-B, a “trust ray,” has been stolen. In the words of Barbara Gordon, this piece of technology is “a build-your-own-cult starter kit.” So with her eidetic memory, she recognizes the thief as Ethan Cobblepot (aka Blacksun), the son of the notorious Penguin.

BATGIRL #20 page 6. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

In the midst of this natural disaster, Penguin is masquerading as a Good Samaritan while secretly manipulating the people of Burnside to elect him Mayor. After discovering the real scheme behind Penguin’s kindness, Batgirl confronts Blacksun, who fights her in his newly upgraded tech suit. He traps her in a room engulfed in flames, which she escapes too quickly, without enough time to build any kind of suspense or sense of danger. So Batgirl exposes Penguin’s true intentions and reveals Blacksun’s heavily scarred face before they’re both arrested.

Batgirl’s Super Memory

In this issue, Batgirl’s superpower is her eidetic memory. She uses her brilliant memory to track down the father-and-son duo and identify the voice of Ethan Cobblepot. I liked seeing a heroine use her head more so than her fists. The art style illustrates her mental ability with a cool visual effect. The hazy blue color really brings to life her mental gift. These memories almost haunt Batgirl as she searches for Penguin and Blacksun.

BATGIRL #20 page 5. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Son Of A Penguin

The inclusion of Blacksun makes for a more interesting story, given the complicated dynamic between father and son. Their relationship isn’t that of a loving familial bond, even though they seem to be working together. The father and son distrust and use each other for their own benefit. If Penguin succeeded in becoming Mayor, Blacksun viewed it as an opportunity for him to be “the power behind the throne.” His vanity and desire for power stem from his need for revenge on Batgirl for scarring his face in the aftermath of their last battle.

A Refreshing Take On Barbara

I enjoyed Barbara’s portrayal in this comic. She has spunk. Not only does she rely on her fighting abilities, but her intelligence and quick reflexes as well. Towards the end, I found a real maturity about Barbara as she stares at her reflection in the mirror. So she looks back on the mental and physical scars she has from being Batgirl. She has grown as a person, saying: “I’m not a kid anymore. And I don’t want to be.”

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Flat Story Points

So there were some moments in this issue that felt lackluster. During the fight scene, Blacksun’s monologue about his evil plan and how he rose from the ashes of his last defeat felt cliché. Like he was just parroting what a stereotypical villain would say. Another not-so-great point of this issue was the neatly wrapped ending. Thankfully, Barbara taking a minute to reflect on her own scars as Batgirl gave more weight to an otherwise perfectly tied up conclusion.

Wrapping Things Up

BATGIRL #20 is a refreshing and lighthearted read, not gritty and dark as the usual tales set in Gotham. From the use of color to the depictions of the characters, Christian Wildgoose’s art style is vibrant and charming. Hope Larson offers an exciting conclusion to Batgirl’s battle with Blacksun with some hackneyed points of the story that unfortunately pull the plot down.  However, Hope’s still portraying Barbara as a grounded and smart heroine. So What’s in store for Batgirl now? Is there a new villain to face on the horizon? I’m eagerly waiting to read what’s next for Batgirl in Burnside!

BATGIRL #20 by Hope Larson and Christian Wildgoose
This issue is a mixed bag. Some parts of the story were a bit clichéd. However, the vibrant artwork and the portrayal of Batgirl as a strong and smart heroine really save the day.
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