What is this all about?
Batgirl and Nightwing team up to solve a mystery, y’all! In this issue, Batgirl and Nightwing are called to a rooftop where they are instantly bombarded by two henchmen wearing matching red leotards. They spend the rest of the issue trying to figure out who’s trying to take them out.
This story gets interspersed with flashbacks of Barbara Gordon in high school. In the flashbacks, Barbara is the new kid on the block, fresh from Chicago. One of the first friends she makes is a substitute teacher named Ainsley. The significance of this is that the two henchmen they fought on the roof look an awful lot like Ainsley.
Who are these henchmen that called Batgirl and Nightwing to the rooftop? What connection does Ainsley have in all this? Read on, and find out.
The issue starts with the fight on the rooftop. Right off the bat (no pun intended), things start off tonally inconsistent. At one point, Batgirl and Nightwing are trading quips about how they would have sent a more menacing text. The next moment, the two henchmen straight-up just fall off the roof, onto the street, meeting their deaths. It’s a pretty sharp turn. After the girls’ deaths, our two heroes realize The Mad Hatter must be behind this.
At this point, the story gets divided between the current narrative of hunting down The Mad Hatter, and flashbacks of Batgirl when she first moved to Gotham. Barbara’s first real friend in this new city is Ainsley, who is a substitute comp sci teacher. The two bond over computers, and later in the story, they bond over both working at Olive Garden (sorry, Chive Garden).
Neither narrative concludes in this issue. The one thing we do know is that something definitely happened between Barbara and Ainsley. Nightwing suggests Ainsley is back in town, so she can’t be dead. Barbara vaguely comments that she never told anyone about what happened “that summer.” Clearly, something went down, and Barbara may have an “I Know What You Did Last Summer” experience sometime in the near future.
It’s a good issue. We get an old-fashioned Batgirl/Nightwing team-up, and we get a fun backstory of when Batgirl and Nightwing (then Robin) first started teaming up.
SPOILER: The issue ends with the reveal that “The Red Queen” is actually the one pulling the strings. The Mad Hatter is simply a pawn. We don’t see The Red Queen’s identity, but it seems pretty obvious she’s Ainsley. It appears almost too obvious, so hopefully, there’s a nice twist to keep the readers on their toes.
Given the title of the next issue, one thing is certain. We’re going to get a lot more Alice in Wonderland references very, very soon.
Reviewed by Mike Bedard
Written by Hope Larson
Pencils by Chris Wildgoose; Inks by Jose Marzan; Colors by Mat Lopes
Published by DC
Release Date: 8/23/17