“Strange Loop” Part 1
Writer: Hope Larson
Artist: Minkyu Jung
Once That’s Entertainment decided to start posting comic book reviews, I told our Editor-in-Chief that I would only claim one title until we had a few reviewers on board. That title is Batgirl—I became a fan of it instantly when I reviewed it for Dark Knight News.
Batgirl #22 ‘Strange Loop’ Part 1 proves to me that the title hasn’t missed a beat during my absence from reviewing it. While I highly recommend reading the entirety of Hope Larson’s run, this issue works as a jumping point for any new readers.
PREVIOUSLY ON ‘BATGIRL’
I never took the opportunity to review Batgirl issues #17 – #21, but I couldn’t book those books down. While issue #17 wrapped up the ‘Summer of Lies’ arc, the remaining issues have been a series of one or two shots. Even though I prefer the longer arcs, Batgirl #18, ‘White Elephant’ gave us a wonderful holiday story that included Harley Quinn, a character I’ve grown incredibly fond of over the years. Seeing the return of the Cobblepots in the two issue ‘Cold Snap’ arc was a fun adventure that saw Babs get outsmarted once or twice—a rare feat!
Though, it may have been Batgirl #21, ‘Father Knows Best’, that was my favorite one-off so far. Batgirl ends up working with Commissioner Gordon, her father who is unaware of his daughters evening hobby, on a case that is leaving victims in both Burnside and Gotham. While the monster of the week is kind of lame, it’s a very cute story with an even cuter ending.
Batgirl #22 kicks off one of Larson’s last issues of the title, ‘Strange Loop’ part 1. While there is not big named baddie in this issue, the story deals with Babs feeling like she isn’t getting anywhere in her life. It’s something that most of us can relate to. She runs into acquaintances from previous arcs, like Kai and May, who seem to be moving on to different things in her life. For Kai, it’s all good—but for May, not so much.
May Hao, the MMA fighter from China, seems to have gotten herself in trouble. Batgirl tracks her down to an abandoned warehouse. It appears this is where May had “birth control” implanted, but Babs feels more than certain that her friend was lying. When Batgirl finds her friend participating in an illegal MMA fight and tries to stop her; only to find out that the drug May has implanted can control her.
Larson’s writing continues to excel in her Batgirl run. And while I don’t want to spoil anything, the big reveal at the end of this issue is what officially sold me. Larson blindsided me. She has been writing this character for nearly two years now—she knows Barbara like the back of her own hand. But the writing in this story is on a whole another level. It looks like Larson isn’t leaving Batgirl quietly.
Minkyu Jung takes up the artistic duties for this issue and he’s great! I love that not only is Barbara feeling like she’s grown up and not the same kid who moved to Burnside, she looks more grown up. While Jung slips into the issue almost seamlessly, it’s Barbara who looks more refined. Jung’s work with tiny details and shadowing help put his own stamp on the work.
To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t looking forward to another short story arc; especially once I discovered that ‘Strange Loop’ would be Larson’s last. I like meaty stories, but the twist at the end pulled everything together for me. I’ve always called this title a perfect model for a Batgirl TV series on the CW. And while it still could be, this issue feels a bit different. Not necessarily darker, but definitely more adult than the CW typically goes. If you’ve been a fan of Larson’s work in the past, be sure to soak this in—it’s one of her best Batgirl issues yet!
Images courtesy of DC Entertainment