The main story here takes place in the clean up after the frankly predictable Joker War as Batgirl struggles to understand her place in the structures and hierarchies of Gotham City. She gets some surprises from every man in her life, most of which are not considered pleasant. In every corner, evidence piles up that her work in skintight clothes is not only not making a difference but is actively hindering the positive impact she could be making otherwise. The entire issue could just as well have been considered the case of "The People vs. Barbara Gordon," but the final verdict may not have gone as she or the makers of this title intended.
There are three stories here, all written by the talented but clearly (and rightfully so) subversive Cecil Castellucci. In the main story, the titular Gordon is pulled between her caped life and her duties as a staffer for a congresswoman while also struggling with handling her fledgling romance with a man she crippled while in costume. As Exhibit A, Batgirl learns that the boys in the family are all essentially on salary, while she's basically buying batarangs for retail price. Sure, some would attest that Bruce Wayne was the legal guardian of many of them, but for a clearly adult Nightwing to still be receiving his "stipend" makes this look, well, much like many things in the real world.
The romantic part with Jason, what's his name, is a bit awkward and largely forgettable, despite the importance it's given in the solicitations.
Moving on, Barbara steps up her Batgirl game in saving people from car wrecks, talking a jumper off from the ledge, carrying groceries for an elderly woman, teaching a self-defense class. She criticizes Batman for using his money to support the "obvious choices" while not helping actual people.
Out of costume, Barbara tries to change things as well, helping a support group and debugging the GCPD computers. Ignoring the "work within the system" method, she leads her boss to march with people protesting a thousand-dollar-per-plate police fundraiser, even pulling her own father away from the teat of the way it's always been.
Her masculine Bat compatriots mostly ignore all of these things. Then, going into the first back up story, Batgirl struggles with fighting everyone else's battles, being turned away when another female hero shows up, and with being called Hawkgirl by Barry Allen. She sees that contributions are so interchangeable that they don't care whether it's her or someone else who shows up.
Finally, she DMs a Dungeons and Dragons game for Huntress, Orphan, Spoiler, and Black Canary, which they pause to go fight crime. Using her old Oracle styles, she guides them all through using different tactics than they usually do to be effective.
What does all this say? This all comes to the same verdict that it seems like Barbara Gordon (and editorial, based on this being the last issue) have found. Batgirl doesn't matter. She doesn't matter to the Bats; she doesn't matter to the Justice League, she sure as heck doesn't matter to her father. On the other hand, Barbara Gordon, with her photographic, eidetic memory and cool under pressure, can be an amazing person … out from under the shadow of the cape. This is the evidence presented here, not an individual argument. It says "Oracle > Batgirl," so you don't have to.
Now, is watching this argument play out in Batgirl #50 worth six dollars? The jury is out on that, so that means … RATING: MEH.
Series finale! All good things must come to an end, as we wrap up this run of Batgirl with one final oversized celebratory issue! In the aftermath of "The Joker War," Gotham is left in pieces that need to be picked up by Barbara and Alejo's team — but is Gotham a city worth saving anymore, and how much longer does our girl have it in her to keeping fighting for it as Batgirl? Then, if Barbara is to ever give her relationship with Jason a chance, she knows she has to face him and finally make amends with the act that crippled him.
Hannibal Tabu is a writer, journalist, DJ, poet and designer living in south Los Angeles with his wife and children. He's a winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt, winner of the 2018-2019 Cultural Trailblazer award from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, his weekly comic book review column THE BUY PILE can be found on iHeartRadio's Nerd-O-Rama podcast, his reviews can be found on BleedingCool.com, and more information can be found at his website, www.hannibaltabu.com.
Plus, get free weekly web comics on the Operative Network at http://bit.ly/combatshaman.