Overview: Barbara has been seriously injured in her fight with Grotesque but refuses to give up capturing the madman. Will she succeed?
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): Barbara Gordon is in the hospital after passing out at GCPD Headquarters. She has visions of Grotesque, the madman that is stealing art and killing the owners in an ‘artistic’ way. She wakes up and realizes that her amazing memory is failing her. She is unable to remember basic things like the names of the muscles in the hand. Also, the doctors say that the implants that allow her to walk are compromised and she needs an operation within a week or so.
All of this is secondary to Batgirl as she is furiously writing up a report to Batman in shorthand. She knows that Grotesque must be stopped and if she can’t do it then she will be sure someone does.
The doctors say that there is scarring in her back and further exertion could cause permanent failure to the implants which would put Barbara back into the wheelchair. Jim suggests that she stay at his house. Surprising him, she agrees. She is wheeled out to the car but insists on walking the final distance. The Gordon’s are tough cookies.
In her old bedroom, Barbara looks at the things of her past. One of those things is her old wheelchair. She reflects on how much her disability embarrassed her father who, she believes, saw her paralysis as a weakness. She confronts him about this and he is patient and gives her space.
Later that night, she gets out an old Batgirl suit and heads out on the town. She has some leads on Grotesque’s hideout and she checks them out. In one, she finds Phillippe dead in the fridge. Grotesque emerges from the shadows. It turns out that he is working with the Dark Web who Batgirl had faced in Bludhaven. The two fight. Grotesque hits Babs with the shock sticks but she is able to defeat him, tie him up, and call the GCPD.
She starts feeling woozy however and takes a Greg Louganis out the window into a dumpster. When she awakes she goes back up to the room where the GCPD surrounds a tied up Phillipe. The cops go to take her into custody, calling her the murderer.
Analysis: This story by writer Mairghread Scott is very effective for me. It is about Barbara and where her head is. Even with her own life in grave danger, she is hero enough to be more concerned with her killer being brought to justice than she is with her own health. Her relationship with her paralysis is also delved into. She isn’t afraid to be back in the wheelchair if she has to. What upsets her is how her father reacted to it. She feels she somehow shamed him because she wasn’t 100% healthy. It is a feeling that his love is conditional which upsets her. She confronts Jim with this and he seems to understand. He wisely leaves her to her dark thoughts.
Grotesque is a creepy character. I’m not sure how important the Dark Web connection is going to be. Maybe it is just a piece of information, maybe there are more big bads to come.
Paul Pelletier is on pencils, Norm Rapmund on inks, Jordie Bellaire is on colors, and Deron Bennett on letters. The art is well executed. The vision scenes are cool little horror pages. Barbara’s face, when she is intent on writing her report to Batman, is adorable in its focus as people try to distract her. When Barbara was talking about her broken body, there were images of vases that looked to have previously been damaged. There is good synchronicity between the story and images.
The one concern I had with the art was at the very end. It appears to me that Phillippe from the fridge was the dead guy tied up on the floor. They sure looked similar. But it could be that it was only Grotesque that was unmasked. It was a question mark at the very last panel that I’d have preferred to have been clearer.
Final Thoughts: Mairghread Scott is giving us a Barbara Gordon that is in deep trouble but keeps fighting for good. Combined with the efforts of a solid artistic team Batgirl #27 is a terrific read.