We’re All Mad as Hatters Here
Written By:Hope Larson
Art By:Rafael Albuquerque, Dave McCaig
Lettered By:Deron Bennett
On Sale Date: August 24, 2016
**NON SPOILERS AND SCORE AT THE BOTTOM**
I endeavor to visit the Asian continent, though I must admit that the prospect intimidates me. It’s not so much the language barrier as it is the culture gap. I witnessed much of that gap first hand, growing up in Flushing, Queens, which is now New York City’s Asian center and the hub of Korean business in this hemisphere. When I was growing up, the gap was in emigrated Chinese and Korean people trying to assimilate into American culture, which I must say happened pretty rapidly, though a few from the old neighborhood would say otherwise. Sure, all the businesses down on Main Street are Chinese- or Korean-owned, but everyone’s walking around in brand-name clothing, rocking expensive sneakers and shopping at Target. I’d say that where it counts, these residents are well assimilated. So what else is there…Batgirl #2, huh? I guess I can put aside my ruminations about the old neighborhood and give this a look-see. Join me, won’t you?
At the suggestion of Okinawa’s legendary elderly hero Fruit Bat, Batgirl finds herself in Singapore, looking for whatever it is that allowed Fruity to deflect any projectile or blow. She’s carousing around with her old buddy Kai, who she seemed much more suspicious of last issue, now she’s throwing caution to the wind and putting the two of them up in fancy hotels—even as he becomes more presumptuous about their “next” destination. For the time being, however, they split up: Kai down to get some food and Babs to look at some rare reference books at the library…or so she claims. Really, she’s headed to the Adapt Tower to try out for a mixed martial arts match! Barbara had to like to Kai because…wait a minute, didn’t he figure out she was Batgirl at the end of last issue? I mean, did they just drop that completely or what? Anyway, Adapt doesn’t want to sign up Barbara because, of course, she’s a girl, but as she storms out of the building she’s accosted by a guy who offers her an opportunity to fight May, owner of the Lightspeed Gym. Do you think Barbara has the right Pokémon?
Babs and May hit it off because they’re both tough broads, I suppose, and May tells her that Adapt isn’t using female fighters because they were spurned by another mixed martial artist that signed with an outfit in Seoul, Korea. Since that fairly well killed the lady-fightin’ scene in Singapore, May came back…from Gotham, of course! Everyone in the DCU must have been born or lived in Gotham City, by law. Babs decides to use an alias—Amy Beddoes—which is sort of ballsy since May having come from her hometown only increases the odds that she’ll know Barbara’s lying, but that’s the life of a Police Commissioner’s daughter! Or something. So after some more light banter, the two get to sparring…for like three panels. May puts “Amy” down and they’re about to go again, then the action cuts to three hours later and Barbara is going back to her hotel room feeling battered and bruised. Kai is already there and wants to hit the town, which of course Barbara agrees to because she doesn’t want him to know she was training with a martial arts expert and plus she thinks he’s a hot hot hottie!
They head to the Sands Casino at Marina Bay, where Kai uses his mysteriously-acquired room card to gain entrance to the rooftop pool, which is a key opportunity for young horndogs to check each other out. Kai lies to Barbara about having gotten a data distribution job through a mutual friend, but even though she can tell he’s full of it they share a nice smooch as the sun sets over Singapore. Of course, now Barbara regrets it and is essentially pushing Kai off to his next destination without her. He calls his grandfather and says he’s gonna be delayed—and now it’s time for a dating/fighting montage! We see “Amy” and May fighting on Sunday, then Babs and Kai eating fish eyes on Monday. Then it’s “Amy” and May fighting on Tuesday, Babs and Kai riding in a rickshaw on Wednesday. It’s a pretty cool page that gets the job done without a lot of exposition, and I appreciate that. On Friday, when Barbara is to officially fight at Lightspeed Gym, Kai takes off but says they should meet in Beijing when their tasks are done. Barbara commits to nothing, then takes off for a warehouse in Kallang, Singapore, where she will fight Wen Lu, “the Moth,” who is a mute woman built like a jackhammer that stands a full six inches taller than Babs. When they begin tussling, Barbara notices that she flutters erratically—like a moth—making her unpredictable and difficult to hit. On Wen Lu, Babs spies a tattoo—the very same one worn by the Sailor Moon clown ninja from last issue—and that’s just the opening Wen Lu needs to knock her ass out!
This issue wasn’t as action-packed as the last one, but I still enjoyed the story. I don’t understand why Barbara was rightfully cautious of Kai last issue but now she’s giving him smooches, or why they don’t even mention her being Batgirl this time around, but I can chalk that up to capriciousness and tact. The art is evidently spectacular, and the action scenes in particular look like they’re flying off the page. Looks like this is going to be a little Asian tour we’re taking with Barbara Gordon, which is good because the idea of eating fish eyes in real life kind of freaks me out.
Bits and Pieces:
Born in Gotham some years ago/ A red-headed smarty named Barbara/ She loves to read, but what she loves more/ is fightin' 'round the world! She fights her friends and she fights her foes/ with feet and knees, fists and elbows/ If there's one thing that Barbara Gordon knows/ it's fightin' 'round the world! Learning moves and pummeling crooks and fightin' 'round the world!