Putting A Spell On You: Reviewing ‘Batgirls’ #4

No matter what is happening in the world or in one’s day, it is seemingly almost impossible to open an issue of Batgirls and not have a big smile or at least have a really fun time by the time the final page is turned. The fourth issue of this fantastic series was no different.

Within the first three issues, Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad have built a solid foundation for the title characters as well as a fully fleshed-out setting. The Hill is a section of Gotham that has been mentioned and featured before, but it really feels alive and diverse here in this book. We’ve already gotten great views of neighbors of all types, even visiting the business of one here and continuing to string along the ominous mystery of another neighbor at the same time.

As noted in the previous review, every single issue just feels jam-packed with stuff. There is a ton going on and it never feels like its bloated or there is too much. When a creative team can take an average-sized comic book and make it feel like it’s twice the size just by the amount of characterization, action, plot forward movement, and fun they pack into it that is a great thing to me.

It’s all been helping build the Batgirls their own corner of this shared world, and not once has it relied on needing to have Batman or Nightwing or someone actually swoop in for a cameo or to save the day. This is 100% Steph, Cass, and Babs book which is fantastic to see.

Jorge Corona and Sarah Stern continue to do amazing work, blending the fun and serious nature of this story perfectly within their artwork. In the year that I’ve been writing these reviews, there are things that naturally I began to pick up on more with art, and the way that panels are laid out is one of them. Corona has a great skill for laying out the pages where no two pages look alike panel-wise, making fantastic use of the white space as borders to frame the panels and draw the eye inward. Irregularly shaped panels, especially in the fight scenes, play into the chaotic energy that would be felt in these action scenes but also bring a lot of the fun energy that radiates from this book.

Colorful colors can be found all over these pages, splashes of bright reds and greens alongside all the black and purple and Stern makes it all pop but also fit together. One thing that just caught the eye of this issue was the way the colors totally accurately change between the day and night scenes. In the daylight, they are still there but are muted, as things tend to seem in such bright sunlight, but in the evening and later scenes, those colors are brighter with pop while still being shadowy and somewhat muted. It’s such a great little touch not only for its realism but also in how it keeps things fresh and different throughout the book.

Becca Carey rounds out this great creative team, tackling the lettering side of things. All the great changes to the font sizes and styles are on display in order to make words stand out and fit personality and tone into different characters’ words. Even the SFX fit into this realm as there are bigger bolder ‘louder’ ones but then there are small barely noticeable ones that help make it clear how hard something is being hit or knocked on or whatever the SFX is tied to. A lot of the fun comes from the colors of the bubbles and the block letter yelling bubbles and the always great throwing a styled logo into a bubble when someone is saying their codename (like the really sweet one that is part of the cliffhanger moment of the issue).

In a blending of the lettering and writing work on the book, the captions deserve their own shoutout here. And not just because in this issue there was a really fun bit where the captions complimented the reader (including an editor note that also complimented the reader). That is part of it though because the captions being this third-person style that is so meta and making quips/jokes along the way fits the energy of this book perfectly. It’s just another piece that makes this book stand out from all the other bat-books being published, where really almost none of them really match one another which is just how it should be.

Batgirls #4 is now on sale in print and digitally from DC Comics.

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