While it is definitely one of the best issues in the series, this issue is still far from being near perfect. The main premise of this issue is that Batgirl believes the only reason she lived through the Joker experience, is because something went wrong. Naturally, she’s right. It turns out that one of Joker’s lackeys wasn’t particularly into killing young girls and called the cops to get her help. Three years later, Batgirl tries to help him, he figures out her secret identity, and then he dies. The curse of Batgirl continues. For the most part this issue is great. Batgirl deals with her past, comes to terms with the fact that someone saved her, it’s all very touching. For whatever reason, though, Gail Simone has decided the story can’t be good unless someone dies. It’s almost to the point where for every person Batgirl saves, another dies. Batman and Nigihtwing feel she should retire because she’s not ready to be back on the streets, but clearly she should retire for the sake of the good people (crooks) of Gotham. Barbara’s mother makes another appearance and explains that she left because she was afraid of her 5 or 6 year old son. Of course, he turned out to be a psychopath anyway, which brings us to his return in the last page of the issue. James is a fascinating character, so it will be interesting to see how well Batgirl can handle herself against him. 4/5
When the series first began, Bruce and Damian’s relationship was tremendously strained. The two seemed as close and as different as apples and pears. With the end of this arc, however, Tomasi has brought them closer together by demonstrating that the two are more alike than they, and the readers, may have thought. The issue itself was a bit of a breather issue, especially in comparison to the last issue, that mainly focused on the aftermath of what Damian had both gone through and done. While that may seem like a very stale story, the end result is actually terrifically done. Damian is almost back to being the kid we saw towards the end of Grant Morrison’s run on Batman and Robin, and Bruce is beginning to act like a guy who isn’t raising his first child. 4.5/5
With every issue in this second arc there is an ever present battle between it being interesting and confusing. When taking the entire story into consideration, the story is compelling enough for a second arc. Unfortunately, the way that it’s written is a complete hindrance to the overall story. With this issue, and the past two issues, being separated into different points of focus and different points in time, each story gets but a handful of pages. Read as a collected story, this doesn’t pose a problem, however, on a month to month basis this pacing is just an invitation for confusion. Meanwhile, in the story, Kate Kane is quickly becoming a character that is hard to feel bad for. Which isn’t to say that the book isn’t great, it is; however, because of the way the book is paced, there is little in the way of character development. As a result, her actions tend to make her seem hasty and uncaring. Reeder’s artwork still continues to shine in this otherwise tame issue. 3.5/5
After being used to beat up the Teen Titans, Superboy decides that it’s time for him to stop being a slave to N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and attempts to take them down. As noble a decision as that may be, he’s going up against the same people that created him, which makes this somewhat of a bad decision. This issue is a bit of a prelude into the upcoming crossover event, The Culling. It will take place across Superboy, Legion Lost, and Teen Titans. It’s not exactly clear what the Culling is, though it sounds remarkably unpleasant. As far as issues go, this one wasn’t the best in the series. While the action was well done, that fight between Superboy and Grunge being terrific, the issue had pacing issues. Things that occurred in the last issue were left unresolved, and there were gaps in history that even with the aid of Teen Titans remained unanswered. On that note, Lobdell is relying heavily on the idea that everyone who is reading Superboy is also reading Teen Titans. The two series are so deeply intertwined that it’s hard to imagine being able to read just one and still understand what is going on. That being said, reading both makes for a fantastic read, you just have to be willing to drop some cash to get them. 3/5
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