DrunkWooky Comic Review: Batgirl 47 (Castellucci, Rodriguez 2020)

Beware light spoilers are ahead.

Batgirl 47 is on sale today, 7/22/2020. It’s an official tie-in of the Joker War which I’m doing a complete read through and review of. You can check that out over here at the Joker War Reading Order and Reviews page.

Title “The Anatomy of a Joke” Batgirl 47 is a spiritual sequel to Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke. In The Killing Joke, Joker shows up at Barbara Gordon’s door, shoots her in the stomach, kidnaps her, and paralyzes her in the process. He photographs her in all manner of compromising positions to display to Commissioner Gordon while the Comish is riding through Joker’s torrid funhouse. It has been a topic of great debate and controversy over the years whether or not Joker is implied as having raped Barbara, whether Alan Moore intended that, and whether the photos in the funhouse were edited before production. That’s all a bit outside the scope of this review.

The Killing Joke
The Killing Joke

Suffice to say, however, Barbara is stripped of her agency and has no control over the situation in the Killing Joke. Over the years, Barbara has been rehabilitated, first as Oracle, then when Bruce installs Wayne-tech in her spine, as the fully ambulatory Batgirl once again.

Batgirl 47 is another step in that rehabilitation. We find Babs coming in from a date with Jason Bard, a man she threw off a roof as Batgirl. If you’re familiar with Robbi Rodriguez’s work on Spdier-Gwen the art here will feel like familiar territory. Not hyper real, but stylized. It’s effective, but I did have to slow down to understand some of the actions depicted. The shoe flip on the first page took me a second to understand, I think she was icing her legs, and what Babs’ impromptu weapon at the end of the issue actually is will forever remain a mystery to me. His characters are slinkier than other depictions across the Bat-line, but a welcome change.

Of course, Joker is sneaking around in the background until the smart-as-a-whip Barbara senses something is wrong. The furnishings are slightly askew! Barbara’s scuffle with Joker quickly commences, and it looks like she has the upper hand until she finds out he’s toying with her.

Cue that Wayne-tech spine implant I mentioned earlier. You see, Joker has access to all of Wayne’s technology and resources at the moment. All except one of his micro batcaves that is. That’s why he’s here. He clicks a transponder, turning off Barbara’s spine implant and rendering her paraplegic once again. However, where The Killing Joke would have Barbara helpless and at Joker’s whims, she treats this as a hostage situation and commences negotiations, stalling for time until she can make her move.

The resolution at the end (I won’t spoil it) is pretty clever and I have to give Castellucci props for making what is essentially a bottle issue contained to Barbara’s apartment an interesting read. Focused on pondering the similarities between Batgirl and Joker (if any), this issue feels like a bit of vindication for Barbara. I’m just not sure how Joker will be able to operate in the larger Joker War story after what Babs did to him at the end here.

My initial impression is that this issue will not be terribly important to the overall Joker War story. I could be wrong and I may end up revising that opinion. However, the issue is an enjoyable read in its own right. Will it end up as a collectible issue as a companion to The Killing Joke? Unlikely. As I said, so much has already been done to rehabilitate Barbara Gordon as Batgirl. Those issues, namely New 52 Batgirl 1 and 4 where her implant surgery is discussed) are probably more highly sought after for the time being. Even those are pretty inexpensive and low level spec plays right now.

Batgirl 47 is on sale now.

Official solicit:

(W) Cecil Castellucci (A) Robbi Rodriguez (CA) Giuseppe Camuncoli

Knock knock!
Who’s there?
The Joker.
The Joker who?
The Joker who’s here to have a nice chat with Barbara Gordon!
Don’t miss this devastating tie-in to “Joker War”!

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