Batgirls #2 takes place directly after the events of Batgirls #1, in a post Fear State” Gotham. Batgirls is published by DC Comics, written by Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad, drawn by Jorge Corona, colored by Sarah Stern, and lettered by Becca Carey.
Fear State left no costumed crusader in Gotham untouched, and the Batgirls—Stephanie, Cass, and Babara—have gotten the short end of the stick. The Clocktower was destroyed, Steph and Cass were framed for it, and the villainous Seer destroyed the Oracle Network. At the beginning of Batgirls #2, the three have officially moved into their brand new, if rundown, headquarters in Gotham Hill, but things aren’t off to a smooth start.
Though the Magistrate is dead, that doesn’t mean that everyone who supported those ideas has given up; a group of extremists, calling themselves The Saints, attacks Cass and Stephanie, who barely manage to escape. They tried to run, but they couldn’t hide.
One problem is apparent right from the start of Batgirls #2; the plot is heavily reliant on events that occurred during Fear State, and the book assumes you don’t need any reminders of the details. So if you didn’t keep up with every Fear State title, you’d be rushing to the internet to look things up multiple times.
Batgirls #2 also suffers from a poor balance between driving the plot forward and developing the characters. Out from under the roof of Batman and the rest of the Batfam, Cass and Stephanie should have had the room to spread their bat-wings and fly. Unfortunately, this story clipped their wings before they could get off the ground. Glimpses of the girls’ personalities break through occasionally, such as when they eschew the scooters Babs provides for the car they stole from a group of thugs. Still, largely their characterization feels half-finished like there was too much plot information to be told and not enough room left for the Batgirls themselves. Similarly, Babs’ characterization is pushed to the side, which is unfortunate because though she may go by Oracle, she’s a Batgirl too. Once a Batgirl, always a Batgirl.
Despite most of the focus, the plot also isn’t executed well. There are so many plot threads that don’t seem to relate to each other. It feels like Cloonan and Conrad weren’t on the same page while writing the story. However, they’re both talented writers, so maybe things will be smoothed out in future issues.
The art in Batgirls #2 is too much all of the time. It’s not that the art is bad, but it is too much. There’s so much going on on each page with text, colors, and art, that it’s impossible to focus on each element without feeling completely overwhelmed.
Corona has good movement and flow within individual panels, but this flow doesn’t carry across the entire page, and panels often feel disjointed and disconnected. And the layout of Carey’s speech bubbles only makes this disjointed feeling worse. The letters within the bubbles are legible, but the layout makes it difficult to figure out the order in which to read the dialogue. And in places, the letters themselves are in dark green, with the background in a lighter green. Unfortunately, the contrast isn’t great enough for this to work well; it just makes it harder to read.
The rest of Stern’s colors are vibrant and well saturated, and if the rest of the visual components weren’t so busy, they would work perfectly. However, rather than all of the art elements working together, they all feel like they’re competing for the reader’s attention.
Cass and Stephanie are fascinating characters, long overdue for a new series focused on them, so the lackluster performance of Batgirls #2 is a real shame. Hopefully, this is merely an awkward start to a series that will cement these characters as DC mainstays.
Batgirls #2 is available now wherever comics are sold.
Cass and Stephanie are fascinating characters, long overdue for a new series focused on them, so the lackluster performance of Batgirls #2 is a real shame.