Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Daniel Sampere
I haven't read a lot of this Batgirl series until Death of the Family, but since I have gotten the first story arc. What I've read of this series I've enjoyed, and not only the Death of the Family stuff. Gail Simone has done an excellent job on this series, and her removal from this series will be disappointing.
This issue sees Batgirl placed with an ultimatum of marrying the Joker to save her mother. Also in this issue Alysia Yeoh phones Barbara's brother James Gordon Jr. (who set her up to face the Joker in the first place) and tells him about Barbara being attacked.
This was another brilliant Batgirl issue, and although not quite as good as the previous still very enjoyable. Simone has done a brilliant job in the writing of this series, and besides Scott Snyder on the main Death of the Family story, in Batman, has done the best job writing wise during this crossover. The only thing I didn't like about this issue was how it jumped back and forward between Batgirl, James Gordon Jr., and the Joker set-up story, which didn't make a lot of sense till the end of the issue. Besides that Simone has done an excellent job of showing how Batgirl handles Joker now that he's threatening another member of her family. I also like that despite it being noticeable that Batgirl holds a grudge towards Joker for paralysing her during Batman: The Killing Joke, she still thinks of others (in this case her mother) first.
The art in this issue was very good, and I enjoyed Daniel Sampere's art a lot more in this issue than the last. This is probably because I prefer one artist on a comic, and can't enjoy the individual artist if someone's sharing the work load. With him being the only artist on this issue I was able to enjoy and appreciate it more. The way he draws fight sequences is amazing and I love the expressions on the receiving end of a punch, as well as the expressions in Barbara or Joker throughout the issue. The way Sampere's draws people who are panicking, or upset is also very good, and I love that despite Barbara's mother not having much to do in this issue, that you can still see the discomfort, and fear on her face. I also liked how Sampere's drew Joker in the present and the past, and felt that this issue showed the differences between the two better than any other I've seen, and how his mask looks a lot more tattered in his artwork.
The continuation of Joker's proposal in this issue was very interesting and I liked the way it was handled. It was a big surprise at the end of the last issue when Joker asked Batgirl to marry him, and if it wasn't for the unpredictable nature of the Joker I wouldn't believe he did it. The whole notion of Joker marrying Batgirl seems strange to me, but in a good way. I would never in my wildest dreams imagine Joker marrying Batgirl, and was happy when it was revealed that there was a reason behind it. I also liked how Batgirl reacted to this initially playing along, as she doesn't want her mother to die. The desperation on Batgirl's face whenever she's reminded that her mother may die is also brilliant and very well done.
I liked how we saw a very different side to Batgirl in this issue and how she was sick and tired of letting Joker have it easy. It was also interesting seeing Batgirl almost break her vow not to kill anyone, and after what Joker has done to her I'm not surprised, and don't blame her. It was nice seeing Batgirl not holding back for a change, and the action that came with it was excellent. I also liked that despite the fact Joker didn't anticipate Batgirl's attack just before it happened that he still had a plan in case she did attack him.
James Gordon Jr.'s appearance in this issue was also very interesting, and after him setting up his sister to face the Joker I was even more interested to see him take a interest in her well being. It was also interesting to see Alysia phoning James to ask for his help, and especially how she referred to Barbara as her room mate, which implies she doesn't know that Barbara and James are related. I haven't read every issue of Batgirl but I assume that Alysia and James also met at some point, and that he didn't divulge that he had a sister. I've also liked whilst reading this series on and off that James has played a big part in the last couple of stories, and am interested to see what Batgirl will do to him after Death of the Family.
There was a recurring sequence throughout this issue, which shows Joker in a therapy session at Arkham Asylum, quite a while before the events of Death of the Family. For most of the issue I was questioning the relativity of this sequence, and felt that it was taking up space that could have been used for the main story. The end of this sequence explains why this sequence was necessary, and although it made it worth reading I would have still preferred more time spent on the main story. I did however like how the Joker was written in this sequence and liked how it was very easy for him to upset Dr. Yi, and he easily got under her skin. The sequence itself also had a Silence of the Lambs feel about it with the sinister villain telling his story.
This was brilliant issue, and although not as good as the previous still an exceptionally good issue. I would highly recommend this issue, and the previous issue also. I am also looking forward to how this part of the story finishes in the next issue, and will be upset to see Simone leave the series after issue 17.