This Isn’t Goodbye, It’s a New Path
“Strange Loop” Finale
Writer: Hope Larson
Artists: Minkyu Jung, Jose Marzan Jr, and Mat Lopes
Part of the reason it’s taken me a month to get this review up is I simply wasn’t ready. Batgirl #23 is Hope Larson’s final issue on the run of this title, and I wasn’t ready to accept that. When I started reviewing comic books in the fall of last year, the first title I picked up was Batgirl. I feel in love with Larson’s writing and her story. The Batgirl she gives us feels right at home within CW‘s Berlanti-verse (or, as most people call it, the Arrow-verse). Those shows are my everything, and to get that feeling while reading—even more so to some degree—is one of the greatest gifts that could be given to me.
While I know Larson is leaving for great reasons, it was an emotional moment for me when I realized that her final issue becoming a reality. A better reviewer would have done their job—I suppose being the boss in this instance had its benefit. I’ve read this issue a half a dozen times in the last month. I needed to soak everything in; while I knew Batgirl wasn’t going away, a piece of her was. Batgirl is decisively not meant for me; a 33-year-old male (much like those CW shows). But the beautiful thing about storytelling is that when it’s done right; it doesn’t matter who that story is meant for—it’ll connect with everyone. Not only is Batgirl—Barbara Gordon—a relatable character, Hope Larson created a relatable story for the last two years.
Batgirl #23 picks up immediately where the previous issue left off; Barbara realizing she’s actually still in the apartment, trapped in her own mind. While in the previous issue, she spent most of the time thinking she was in the real life; this issue she spends her time knowing she’s trapped in her own mind. Batgirl#23 deals with living the life with a dual identity and the consequences of always putting others first. The biggest question asked is what does Barbara want? As much as Batgirl #23 is about closing chapters and choosing new paths; it’s about finding balance.
Batgirl or Larson?
Batgirl #23 is a nearly perfect. The final chapter of Larson’s run carries so much emotion; both for Batgirl and for Larson. I couldn’t help but feel like Larson was talking through Batgirl throughout the issue. Is it Batgirl who is stuck in the loop of putting others lives ahead or her own; or is it Hope Larson?
I can’t help but feel that Barbara’s dad is a placeholder for DC Comics here. While Batgirl‘s story is beautiful, the deeper story about Larson stepping out of her comfort zone—choosing herself over the company and family she’s been part of for so long—is a masterpiece.
What else could I say about Hope Larson’s work here? It’s her at her absolute best. While this may not be Larson’s swan song, it plays like it is in the world of Batgirl and DC Comics. While I’m sure, and hope, that she returns to that path once more; I’m also very excited to see what Larson does on the path not taken.
I need to switch gears, for just a moment, and shift who I’m speaking with at the moment—this next paragraph or two is for Hope Larson. There are moments people will never forget, and yes, some are more important than others—meeting the love of your life, witnessing the birth of your children, etc. But those other ones hold just as much weight. While I don’t remember a lot about the comics I read prior to being in my 30s, I can tell you moments. Marvel‘s Civil War run in 2006 brought me back into comics. Scott Snyder’s run on Batman in The New 52 was my first official experience with DC. All of that is important in my world of pop culture.
However, one of the most important things to happen to me, when it comes to pop culture, is reading your run on Batgirl. Before reading this title, I stuck to “mainstream”. There was never a world I was going to pickup something that didn’t feature Batman, Superman, or some of the popular characters from “across the street.” But reviewing your work on Batgirl has changed the way I view pop culture. This title was never meant for me; but it connected with me in ways I’m sure I don’t even realize yet.
Batgirl #23 is the final issue in Larson’s run. While the story is about Batgirl struggling to find balance, it equally feels like a story about Larson saying goodbye. I didn’t touch on the art in my review, it’s (as always) wonderful. Minkyu Jung feels right at home in the world of Batgirl. Hope Larson leaves this title at the top of her game and while both her new path, and Batgirl’s, is an unknown… anything is possible.
Images courtesy of DC Entertainment
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