A really great second issue in mainstream comics is typically hard to come by. There’s neither the exciting newness introduced by the story change-ups of a first issue, and it’s always too early in a story for there to be significant and exciting moments or revelations. We’re at the lowest point in the rising action mountain climb so while Batgirl #2 doesn’t completely shake off those pitfalls, it does damn good job with what it's got.
This issue is all about taking the time and easing us fully into its premise set by the first issue. Barbara Gordon is taking a vacation across eastern Asia and in the process embroiled herself in conspiracy, a blossoming love affair, and the local mixed martial arts scene.
The story here is all about juggling—juxtaposing Barbara’s time sneaking out and fighting in the MMA scene against the romantic getaways with Kai. The sequential art does a lot of work here by paralleling the two, divided world’s she inhabits but unfortunately my interest couldn’t help lean towards the MMA side of the story.
This part of the comic has beautifully drawn fight scenes, plays towards the investigative heart of the Batbooks and transplants us into a new type of setting filled with intriguing characters. The alternate story with Kai is there to ground Babs with something relatable but hasn’t made a good case for their relationship so far.
Narratively, I don’t trust Kai, and luckily neither does Barbara. They grew up together in Gotham where he was in constant trouble and, now that they’re a decade and several continents away, things still look sketchy. As he’s presented, however, he’s a bit dry. I could see this story work if Barbara was using their relationship as her sub-vacation. Even though she’s not in Burnside or Gotham, she’s still acting like Batgirl and if she can’t take a break from being that then at least she can have some fun. Instead, though, she’s having these internal monologues about how her double life means their relationship can never work, and there’s not much of a sense of why she even wants a relationship in the first place. There’s not a ton of character to Kai right now, and their romantic scenes together play out like two separate characters in a different narrative.
For the time being, Kai’s a little too passive for the larger comic arc going on here, and while that doesn’t sink the ship, it definitely rocks it. The creative team behind this book has brought about some exciting elements and now that they have them all laid out and running, I hope to see them find some steadier footing.
[su_box title="Score: 4/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]