Batgirl #13 acts as a bit of a breather before a new arc kicks in next issue, but it also serves as a nice jumping-on point for any readers out there curious about giving writer Hope Larson‘s celebrated take on the character a try. It’s a done-in-one issue, and these kinds of issues typically tend to be either disposable basic adventures or sharply introspective character studies. While I’m not sure Batgirl #13 is going to live on as a classic example of the done-in-one, what does make it stand out and a hoot to read is the way it perfectly captures the spirit of a Silver Age DC super-hero story while still feeling modern and fresh. In that way, though it’s a little on the slight side, Batgirl #13 is a charming and enjoyable caper with heart.
The story opens with seven year old Esme confronting a kid street gang, looking for a lost dog. Being one of Barbara Gordon students, this catches the attention of Batgirl, who teams up with the grade schooler to locate a missing celebrity dog. This brings them into contact with Catwoman, who is looking for a missing celeb pet of her own, namely her beloved cat Isis. Reluctantly forced to work together, the trio finds themselves involved in one of those crazily themed super-schemes that were commonplace in DC Comics throughout the Silver Age.
What Larson and artist Inaki Miranda capture so successfully is the wacky but enjoyable quality those stories had, where things were just crazy and fun and unfettered enough without tipping over into outright absurdity (mostly). As they face off against a villain who steals the best pets as a status symbol, it’s not a million miles away from the plot of a Batman TV show episode. But Larson and Miranda aren’t going for camp, just fun, and the issue uses its plot to provide us with a madcap adventure filled with spiky banter between Batgirl and Catwoman.
For new readers unfamiliar with Larson’s take on Batgirl, it’s a nice showcase of her talents with the character. Larson writes Barbara as smart, capable, full of personality and most of all, kind. Her rapport with Esme is really great, the kind of relationship between kids and super-heroes that never fails to hit my right in the feels when done nimbly as it is here. Esme is a fun character, not annoying at all, and retains her stubborn independence all the way to the end. And who wouldn’t love a kid who heads out on a mission to save a homeless dog? I mean, c’mon, it’d take a robot not to root for that.
Miranda’s art for Batgirl #13 is top notch, too. The layouts are really interesting, bleeding into each other without being cluttered or confusing. There’s also an interesting approach to movement in the issue, communicating for instance Catwoman slinking across a rooftop through the use of transparent figures to give the illusion of motion. The action is well-done as well, with the script and art communicating specificity and impact.
Look, does Batgirl #13 reinvent the wheel? No. Is it a fun and sweet done-in-one adventure that shows the love for the classic super-hero caper? You betcha. It’s a pleasant and fun read that has a great shape to it and certainly would make any new reader more than willing to join Batgirl and her creative team on their next adventure. 7.5/10