Review by: Josh Elliott

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Avg Rating: 4.1
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Story by Gail Simone
Art by Daniel Sampere & Vicente Cifuentes
Colors by Ulises Arreola
Letters by Dave Sharpe
Cover by Ed Benes & Ulises Arreola

Size: 32 pages
Price: 2.99

Seeing Batgirl fight the man who crippled her is reason enough to pick up Batgirl #15, but now that longtime writer Gail Simone has been unceremoniously dumped from the series, her Death of the Family storyline will be her swansong with Barbara Gordon.

Though DC Comics didn’t give her a choice, she couldn’t have picked a better story to leave on.

Simone takes the story exactly where it needs to go. The Joker has Barbara’s mother hostage in a bowling alley, and he’s got wedding bells and murder on his mind. Now Barbara gets to face the man who shot, crippled, and tortured her four years ago. She knows the Batman no killing rule, but there are degrees of violence she’s ready to live with where the Joker is concerned.

Daniel Sampere really makes the art work in concert with Barbara’s rage. Her face – when we see it – is filled with rage and brimming with tears. When she’s at her angriest he obscured her face in shadow, making her the glowering, dark bat figure we rarely see out of Barbara. This is Batgirl cranked up to full intensity. No fun. No quips. Only hatred.

In between Batgirl’s confrontation with the Joker at the bowling alley, we get flashbacks to an earlier Joker undergoing psycho-evaluation at Arkham. The pre-cut Joker face here is fittingly reminiscent of Brian Bolland’s work on The Killing Joke – the graphic novel where the Joker crippled Barbara. The old school Joker is suitably creepy as he shares a journal of his ideas with one of the doctors. Inside, he’s got plans for his wedding (among other things).

The whole wedding concept is a strange way for the Joker to try to get at Barbara, but there are hints that he’s trying to twist her into a more vicious version of herself. If that’s the direction the wedding takes, then it will be well-panned. If not, then it’ll merely be the vehicle through which we get to see this great confrontation played out.

James Gordon Jr. is the real joker in the deck here. He’s on the edges, following Barbara’s confrontation with the Joker, and it’s unclear who he’ll side with.

With Barbara Gordon back in costume and the Joker back in Gotham, this is the story that had to be written, and Gail Simone absolutely does it justice.

Story: 4 - Very Good
Art: 4 - Very Good

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