Barbara Gordon has had a tough life and even tougher last couple of months. There was that whole mess with Joker, then her mom came back, her brother died, her mom left again, and unfortunately her life just gets progressively more and more complicated. Gail Simone is doing a fantastic job with this story. When she first introduced Ricky and Alysia it felt forced, almost as if they were introduced specifically to separate Batgirl from the rest of the Bat-family. Whether or not that was the case, Simone has done such a great job with these characters, Alysia specifically, that I want more of them. Obviously, with the cliffhanger, that will not likely be the case, but this issue is a testament to how much this series as a whole has improved. Fernando Pasarin, Jonathan Glapion, and Blond do an excellent job illustrating this issue. There are a couple awkward moments here and there, but they’re overshadowed by the awesome fight scenes at the end of the issue. 4.5/5
Given its content and the fact the entire story takes place around 8-10 years ago Zero Year has been a surprisingly good read. Unfortunately, this issue takes a strange turn from great into just being a decent read. While the story isn’t complex by any means, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s constant shifting from location to location and past to “present” creates an awkward pacing for the story. In fact, FCO Plascencia’s colors are often the only thing keeping this issue from being downright confusing. His shift in color and palette is terrifically done and creates a sense of order in an issue that is otherwise too wordy and jumps around too much. In stark contrast, the backup story is as close to being perfect as a short story can get. Rafael Albuquerque’s art in tandem with Snyder and James Tynion IV’s story is a wonderfully presented gift at the end of an otherwise bland issue. 3.5/5
The city of Chicago has been completely taken over by the criminal known as the Prankster and time is running out before he can be stopped. Some of the greatest villains are just regular humans. One of the reasons Joker has been such a tremendous villain is because at the end of the day he doesn’t have powers, he’s just a psychopath and that’s what makes him creepy. Prankster is similar in that he’s just a regular person, or so we believe at least, who just happens to have a pension for destruction. What’s even better about him is that he’s practically a representation of what is going on in society today. He’s a cyber criminal who has utilized his skills to hold an entire city hostage, and the kicker is that in a crazy way he’s actually helping the city, violence and destruction aside that is. Kyle Higgins is doing a great job with this arc. Earlier on, his run had been littered with crossovers which stifled things, however he’s been able to bounce back from that and write a socially relevant story. 4/5
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