Review: Batman and Batgirl #21 (Spoilers)

Batman and Batgirl 21 cover
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Peter Tomasi
Artist: Cliff Richards
Released: 6/19/13

Damian’s death has really affected Bruce Wayne to the core. While he’s been going through an even darker nighttime of the soul, he’s been pushing away more and more of what remains of his family. Between shoving Red Robin aside when Red Robin prevents him from learning the secrets of Frankenstein and having a brawl with Red Hood in the sands of Ethiopia where Jason was murdered; to say that Bruce isn’t handling Damian’s (completely unnecessary) death very well is a vast understatement. Continuing on with the stages of grieving, it’s Batgirl’s time to attempt snap him out of this funk. Does Barbara Gordon help or hinder the Dark Knight’s grief?

As the issue starts, Batgirl is still dealing with her own family issues with her supposedly (not really, as people have found out in recent issues of Suicide Squad) killing her psychopath brother James Jr.  However, her tracking down a heroin shipment to the Gotham docks has a higher purpose, to talk to Bruce to help snap him out of his dark depression.  However, since she recently tore off her own Bat-symbol in recent issues of Batgirl, he isn’t exactly in the mood to talk to her. Babs herself seems reluctant to talk to her father; a sequence where she monologues to him hypothetically is paired with her watching him clean his gun. With Gotham’s top civilian and vigilante enforcers of the law having both lost sons, she is in a unique position as the connection to both. Later on, she tracks Batman down and records him acting even more violent. A one on one “intervention” in the Batcave doesn’t work either. All her attempts at trying to connect to him, including volunteering to be Robin, falls on deaf ears as he throws her out; ending this story on an unsatisfying note.

This entire story seems “meh” to me. It’s retreading old and very stale ground. The tracking of Batman and volunteering to become Robin has been done before in the A Lonely Place of Dying story arc that introduced Tim Drake to Batman comics back in the early ’90s. While it does a wonderful job of bridging Batgirl’s own tragedies to Bruce’s, it’s still incredibly stale. The intervention serves as the story’s highpoint, with enough palpable tension due to Bruce feeling betrayed at Babs having removed her Bat-emblem.  But, again, it retreads on old paths; with Damian replacing Jason as the dead Robin. Even the case Babs breaks open contains Jason’s Robin tunic; reinforcing the feel of this story, and perhaps this entire story arc, to be a rehash. The few good moments is Babs’ monologue (which could have been done for an issue of Batgirl), a quick cameo by Harvey Bullock to help illustrate Batman’s loss of control, and Babs attempting to volunteer. Another good point is that Carrie Kelley is no where to be found; she has been a constant irritant for me as I feel she is best in the Miller-verse and she feels more forced to be the heir to Robin as opposed to a more natural progression,

Richards, stepping in for regular Patrick Gleason, redeems this story with art that flows easily with a nice color palate to suit the various environments. A nice example of this is Babs’ monologue where she is stuck in cold hued Gotham while her father is in a warm hued home. This shows her feelings of alienation from her own family in the art as well as in the text. However good art cannot save a mediocre story.

As many of you probably know, I am NOT a fan of Damian’s unnecessary death. I felt it was unworthy of a character who still had plenty of stories to have. While the first two stories in Bruce’s grieving period have been good reads, this issue shows what this really has become; a retread of a classic story. Only this time, they killed a fan favorite character, in an undeserved fashion, because ONE author had to have his way. And it has led to this; blatantly showing this is just a remix of a classic. And like many a remix, this is a pale imitation of the original and hits way too many wrong notes.

6 out of 10

About the author

Daniel Kalban

Daniel is the writer of The Eagle webcomic and aspires to one day join his favorite writers at the Big 2. Until then, he keeps plugging away at various projects, as well as serving as a reporter for Word of the Nerd on various subjects, especially the DC Comics "beat".

Contact him at

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