Overview: Barbara finds out that her insane brother, James Gordon Jr., has been let out of Blackgate Prison. Is he the one behind the assassination on Alejo?
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): Barbara visits Blackgate Prison and finds that her brother, James Gordon Jr. has been released. His meds and therapy have apparently worked. Babs is furious, she believes that he has pulled the wool over the eyes of his doctors and is a danger to Gotham and the Gordon family in particular. Barbara believes that James may have been behind Cormorant’s attack on mayoral candidate Alejo.
It is election day and Babs should be helping out at the polls. However, Batgirl questions several people that have been in touch with James: a fellow prisoner whose in proximity to James, his parole officer and more. She gets nowhere however until a call from Jason Bard comes in. He tells her to get down to Alejo campaign headquarters.
Luckily James Jr. has to walk a certain path to and from work and so it is easy to track. He is walking past Alejo campaign headquarters and Jason has a gun on him. Babs shows up and the siblings argue. Their father shows up and tries to convince Babs that James is cured. Barbara is convinced otherwise.
James goes on his way to his grocery store bagging job where he faces some rude customers. He heads home where Batgirl is waiting for him. He explains how he has been feeling different and able to overcome his worst impulses. He still is struggling however and apologizes for what he has done. Bab’s is having none of it and punches him. She says that she doesn’t know if he is cured or not but she will be tracking him and will stop him if need be.
Outside the window watching the drama is the Batman Who Laughs scheming over the emotionally vulnerable James. Uh oh.
Analysis: Writer Mairghread Scott continues her story of Barbara Gordon’s family drama. Her relationship with her father, Commissioner Gordon, has been tested over the course of the last few issues. Here, she disagrees with his opinion that James Jr. is ready to be trusted.
It appears that James Jr. has truly been trying to turn over a new leaf but will now be confronted with an evil force which he will have to try to resist. Can he? If so, will Babs finally trust him? If not, will she assume that he was bad all along? Or can she find it within herself to give him a measure of forgiveness? Right now, things look bleak along those lines.
The art is by Elena Casagrande and Scott Godlewski with colors by John Kalisz and letters are by Andworld Design. There is a difference between the art of the two main artists. Godlewski just did two pages showing James Jr. at work and his apartment. His lines are simpler than Casagrande’s who sometimes has blotchy airbrushed paint splatters on her pages. A particularly good use of this technique is shown when Batgirl punches her brother. The splotches illustrate the impact of her fist on his face.
One standout set of pages is when Babs and Commissioner Gordon are arguing about James’ recovery. Each page has five rows of a single horizontal panel. Alternate rows are colored in red and blue. It looks cool almost as if a neon light is flashing. Also, when James talks about where his head is at, there is a wash over the panel which illustrates his troubled mind.
I am also not sure why Babs is so certain James was behind the attacks on Alejo. It seems like a long way around to hassle Barbara. Also, Batgirl is being pretty ruthless when she is trying to find her brother. She hangs his parole officer upside down by a rope. That seems out of character for her.
I haven’t been following The Batman Who Laughs so I am not familiar with what the particular significance or threat he represents to James. I’ll have to stay tuned to find out.
Final Thoughts: Some questionable decisions and attitudes on Barbara’s part make me wonder about her approach to her brother, father, and pretty much everyone she runs into. It isn’t clear if this is due to the stress of the situation or a mischaracterization. The past few arcs have been good so I’ll give the book the benefit of the doubt for now.