Many modern superhero comics are finding the balance between great character moments/depth and blockbuster action once again and ‘Batgirls’ is one of the top-shelf examples of how to do it well. This is a book that is energetic and gorgeous and powerful while making the reader feel a lot of things without losing a bit of the fun that is meant to be part of comic books.
Superhero comics will generally give their readers plenty of action where costumed heroes (whether powered or not) will beat bad guys and save the city/world time and time again. The best of those though will take things further. Truly the best of these comics will make you feel something as they dive deep into not only character moments/development but also explore relatable human situations.
Batgirls has been one of those books, and very much so with its sixth issue.
All of the previous issues have centered on emotional and developing and just fun moments for the three leads, with this issue it goes even deeper. Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad, Jorge Corona, Sarah Stern, and Becca Carey are doing tremendous work with this special series. No matter what is happening it’s just a big bundle of fun and a breath of fresh air all at the same time, the book that these characters have needed and fully deserve.
Watching as Babs, Stephanie and Cassandra not only deal with each of the situations they have been dealt (Spellbinder, Tutor, protecting those infected by Tutor) but also showing their strengths was so great. Conrad and Cloonan not only understand these characters perfectly but show their love for them in every issue, diving into such depths. Stephanie’s declaration about being broken and perfectly okay with that because she likes who she is hit me pretty hard because it’s such a powerful sentiment and one that took me quite some time to find within my own life.
All of this character work makes is so that there are even connections to supporting characters and newer characters such as reporter Grace O’Halloran. Hell, they made me feel sad about the fate of Bondo in this issue. When writers can make you feel sad that something like a car has been destroyed to save the say that speaks to how great those writers truly are.
Stephanie’s declaration in this issue (as well as her big heroic moment) speaks to how these characters are very much human in the sense of being rough around the edges with strength and power focused around knowing who they are and what they want. This is perfectly captured in the artwork from Corona and colors from Stern. They set the tone for the series from the first glance of the cover and then behind the cover.
Corona’s work has a rough quality to it but is strong and detailed while capturing a fun and whimsical energy. Emotion is perfectly clear from each of the characters, with the action scenes being slick and smooth while feeling like they are ready to come to life right off the page. All the variety in the paneling, including fantastic use of white space and borders, helps really liven things up as we get great closeups next to wide shots next to closer action shots that flow so smoothly beside or right on top of one another.
There are heavy elements to this story which are reflected in the darker greys and shadows that Stern uses in the coloring, but there are also the brighter greens and purples, and blues that bring the fun tones along for the ride. Gotham is a dark city but it’s also a city with hope and brightness and color and that is not forgotten here. We truly are getting some beautiful versions of Gotham City through the various Bat-books these days with each book/area having a personality of its own.
Having the captions as the narrator is still a great choice here (lots of fun insights and moments there) and the way Carey brings them to life makes them work even more. The same goes for all the lettering work through the issues. All the characters are distinct with their personalities and tones and even with the same fonts in use that energy can be felt through their dialogue. We’re easily able to tell when folks are whispering or lowering their voice or they are shouting, because of the great use of bolds or increased font sizes.
Words that just burst right out of the normal bubble format are some of my favorite lettering effects these days because it’s different and really make it clear how much volume and emotion is behind those words. Just like the more jagged bubbles that are there for those characters under Spellbinder/Tutor’s control, making it clear that they are not themselves in that moment.
Each and every month Batgirls is just a truly delightful and much-needed series not just in the Batfamily of books but just for comics in general.
DC Comics’ Batgirls #6 is now available.