Review: Batgirl Annual #3
When reading the modern medium of comics, it is easy to forget that comic stories did not always have the same format. As opposed to the modern day where one-shots are an absolute rarity, they used to exist more or less in this format across the entire medium. Long story arcs were rare, and heroes usually met a villain and dealt with them in a short amount of time. These stories which can be more easily located in the silver age, had a fairly common format of hero encounters villain, is beaten at first but then quickly recovers and wins. This format is interesting because it is still occasionally used, but also because it is used in this most recent Batgirl Annual, and used quite cleverly.
Facing off against a mysterious villain and organization tied to the name Gladius, Barbara is forced to make some unlikely alliances which take her around the bat-family. The cover alludes to the one that fans would be the most excited about, with an encounter with Dick Grayson, but there are also some clever other interactions as Barbara follows the trail of Gladius. She encounters two other former Batgirls from previous years (Stephanie Brown and Helena Bertinelli) as well as Batwoman, a decent collection of Bat-ladies that is only missing Cassandra Cain. The story diverges in an unexpected direction as well, crossing over what might be DC’s two best titles at the moment, as Batgirl and the residents of Gotham Academy get to meet for the first time.
What is most interesting about this story, is that while it is told in a series of separate vignettes, each with their own style, it also still manages to be a fluid story that makes sense, without the cameos seeming too forced. Barbara is still the star but she cedes that status easily to those that she teams up with, making this issue more than the sum of its parts. While the main series occasionally gets tied down in its own plots, this annual seems to represent a desire by the main creative team to cut loose a bit and have some fun with the character, and they succeeded.
Story: Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher Art: Bengal, David LaFuente, Ming Doyle, Mingjue Helen Chen, Gabe Eltaeb, Ivan Plascensia
Story: 9.4 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.4 Recommendation: Buy