The issue starts where #15 left off. Batgirl is on the run from the cops. As she runs, she speaks with Oracle.She jumps over rooftops with cops following, but because she's a nimble girl who works out, she makes more of the jumps successfully than cops following her. She gets caught in the spotlight of a police helipcopter and escapes by falling backwards through a skylight of a building that appears to have been filled from top to bottom with rotting wooden scaffolding. Her bat-rope punches through the rotting wood so she fall through the scaffolding.
Her shoulder is dislocated when she hits the floor. Dect. Inappropriate Age for Romance happens to be at the bottom of the building with no other cops as back-up. What a lucky coincidence for Steph. He pops her shoulder into the socket and gives Steph the planted bat-a-rang from last issue's crime scene. The Steph-cycle shows up and an escape is made.
Cut to campus with Steph with her left arm in a sling. We see her study group. Jordanna is calling for Batgirl's blood in an organized protest, complete with signs and a bullhorn, but is basically using the murder of Fig Newton as an excuse to get out of a test.
Cut to Steph at the Batgirl secret HQ. They speak exposition and out how to track stuff via a radiation signature. We then see Proxy at the University at night. She has constructed a mockup of what was stolen from Fig through collecting the flash drive that the "Reapers" took from Newtown based on fragments skimmed from Wi-Fi routers placed around the campus. She's also talking to her dead brother Marvin. Apparently the Reapers are stealing tech that will create artificial powers.
A guard shows up. Kicks her out. She says to said guard "Are you seriously kicking out a girl in a wheelchair." Barb says that have to talk. The guard says he saw her through the video cameras.
Barb hacks the camera and sends info to cops while Steph traces the reapers via radiation signature mentioned in prior panels. Checkov's gun pays off again. They fight for two pages and the cops show up. They rush at Steph, panic, but on the next page which is accessed by turning it, we see them rush past Steph to the reapers.
The bad guys are captured. Steph's radiation detecting device in her cowl goes off. Suddenly we see a whoosh. The bad guys and their stolen equipment are gone. The cops and Steph are dumbfounded and helpless. Steph vows to get them.
We cut to Reapers gloating and talking about how they'll continue their crimes. Last page is a full shot of "Blink" the artificially-created speedster.
What I liked. Not a lot. The issue wasn't bad, but nothing popped. Everything seemed rote. The art didn't thrill me. The action scenes seemed static. The exposition was clumsyily introduced.
I got no sense of danger from the villains or the cops. The logic holes were huge.
St. Nick is committing a felony by giving Steph the bat-a-rang. The dialogue of him calling it a boom-a-rang and her correcting him and calling the name bat-a-rang ridiculously awesome wasn't worth the candle. Plus, that's called tampering with evidence. It's a serious felony. Even if Steph is innocent, the bat-a-rang is a clue. Barb pointed out it had residual radiation. It might have had fingerprints from the reapers. Good cops don't tamper with evidence.
Having neither the cops or Oracle figure out how to use video from publically-displayed security cameras until a guard tells Proxy about them makes both Barb and the cops look bone-deep stupid.
I don't understand why Barb said she and Proxy had to talk after Proxy tried to guilt the guard into not kicking her out from the computer room after hours. Her quote about asking the guard if he was actually kicking out a girl in a wheelchair seemed like good tactics. If Proxy was actually subtextually saying something else, I failed to pick up on it.
The whole Jordanna makes a protest was a waste of two pages. It really broke up the story without contributing much.
The Reapers are now supposed to be set up as Steph's new rogue's gallery, but I wasn't impressed.
Overall, the issue didn't impress me, which is disappointing because Miller had three strong issues in a row. I understand what he is trying to do, for the most part (see my Proxy confusion). But the execution was just dull. Also, is Proxy really thinking she's talking to her brother, which is sad and creepy and a lot like what her deranged father was doing, or is it just a habit twins have, and she knows he's not there.
I did like how the Reapers said they have to be careful now that a Bat is on their tail. Steph took Newton's death personally and vows to get the guys who killed him. Good for her and good for Miller. All too often in comics and even bat-comics murder is treated lightly. It's nice to see someone take the killing of a human being as more than an opportunity to work out some angst.
So I give this issue a C+. Not awful, but not all that good. The perfect definition of damned with faint praise.
Or I could be wrong. Go team Batgirl.
I liked it better than you did, I think. I think the art for Batgirl has been way better over the past few issues, for one. It's not top top quality art, but for a mid/low selling character like Batgirl anyway you're not going to get the cream of the crop unless it's just something they happen to be passionate about.
For the bat-a-rang scene, I was able to suspend disbelief. I thought it was cute. And I don't blame detective wazzisname for flirting with a young college co-ed batgirl in a tight spandex costume. What would you do in that situation?
The video display plotline was silly. The point of it seemed to be to make Proxy seem useful. I liked her negative tone in that scene, and hope she develops into some sort of traitor at some point and become Steph's Arch-Nemesis. That would be a nice payoff for that not-so-great setup. Might not happen though. But it would make this scene have way more meaning.
I understand the point of the protest too, and wasn't so bothered by it. They're setting up Steph = Female Peter Parker. Gotta make the city hate Batgirl like that darn Spider-menace!
As for lack of sense of danger, that's not unique to Batgirl. That's coming across in every comic these days and is very unfortunate. It's all about comic companies unwilling to progress. For Batgirl as an example we have her coming back from the dead mysteriously and sayin "surprise, I'm batgirl now!" That makes it really hard to think of much danger especially after how emotional the Spoiler death was to begin with. Kinda kills that old storyline. Same with the Bruce Wayne magical return. Subconsciously, you have to think of both in there and realize "well nothing bad's gonna happen here."
This issue was a whole lot of set up for a pay off down the road for almost every plot thread, and I hope those pay offs happen. Because of that, it's really hard to judge it on its own. It really depends on how good Miller twists the plot and how good he resolves things for almost every one of the issues you present here. I've had fun with the book so far, so I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt.