Batgirl #26 is one damn-near perfect end to Gail Simone’s “Batgirl: Wanted!” saga. After interruptions in her story due to both Villains Month in September and Zero Year last month, Simone comes out swinging and so, for that matter, does Batgirl. Not only is Barbara Gordon put to the test against each of the villains of her past, but also she is finally forced to confront her own father, Commissioner Gordon, who has been leading his own manhunt against our hero. How Simone handles both the high-octane battle with Barbara’s foes and the tenser moments with her father is phenomenal; Batgirl #26 is well-plotted, exceptionally-paced, perfectly written, and to cap it all off, Batgirl gets to be a total badass in it.
Batgirl #26 also has the distinction of accomplishing a rare feat: The cover—another stellar contribution from artist Alex Garner–is actually indicative of what happens within the course of the issue. Yes, after donning her signature cape and cowl for the first time since the end of issue 22, Batgirl unmasks herself in front of her father and as expected, it is the emotional crux on which this issue excels. Simone puts one hell of a capper on the Batgirl/Commissioner Gordon chase with a face-to-face conversation that takes a turn toward an unexpected, but utterly apt, end. It is only in the reappearance of an inevitable familiar face in the last two pages of the issue that breaks this issue’s otherwise pristine flow and emotionally affecting story.
Throughout the issue, Batgirl’s various villains—including Grotesque, Bonebreaker, Mirror, and Gretel—make reference to this being a much different Batgirl than the one they have faced before, and Daniel Sampere’s art reflects that sentiment wholeheartedly. Several times throughout the issue, Sampere draws Batgirl as a shadow, the eye slits in her mask the only visible light coming from an otherwise pitch-black figure, giving her a form that is unmistakably Batman-esque as she takes down her foes. Sampere hits the emotional moments just as hard, rendering a Barbara in tears that is in step with Simone’s dialogue. Hopefully when it is collected in trade, Simone’s “Batgirl: Wanted!” epic can be read with the continuous momentum it was meant to have, and not be doused with interruptions. Read as one unremitting entity, this is certainly a definitive Batgirl story arc.
GNN Comics Grade: MINT (9/10)