Batgirls 2022 Annual #1 is published by DC Comics and written by Becky Cloonan & Michael W. Conrad. Art is by Robbi Rodriguez and colours by Rico Renzi, letters are by Dave Sharpe. The main cover art (left) is by both Rodriguez and Renzi.
Batgirls 2022 Annual #1 is available from today in print and on digital where all good comic books are sold.
It’s a freaky Friday when the Batgirls wake up inside each other’s bodies! That can’t be possible, right? It’s only stuff you see in the movies? Except Oracle has seen this happen before and the only person who may have the antidote to swap their bodies back…is Batman! And to make matters worse, Lady Shiva is here confronting her daughter about something…and it’s up to Steph to put on her best Cass to get through it!
2022 has been a wonderful year for Bat-family members. Nightwing has become one of DC’s biggest books. Tim Drake and Damian Wayne have both headlined solo series. Whilst over in Gotham Hill, the Batgirls have closed out the first year of their team-up book with a hugely exciting arc.
Going in to December, the team is dropping their first annual, an oversized issue which is a prime example of how writers Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad have nailed the formula for making Batgirls a blockbuster success. Rather than follow the annual formula, presenting an out of context, one-shot story, the pair has written a fitting coda to the Hill Ripper arc which also serves as an introduction for what comes next.
Across 12 issues Batgirls has beautifully balanced vigilante action and character beats. No matter the scale or the danger, Cloonan and Conrad have always found time to show the human impact of their stories. Given how much fans cried out for more of Steph, Cass and Babs, the approach to storytelling has been the perfect way to satiate its audience. With a near 40 pages of story, the annual has an amazing amount of breathing space for its characters to inhabit.
The opening monologue deftly moves on the narrative from where we left off. There’s a moment to catch up with each of the three leads, finding them each in a new headspace. These moments also lean on the series’ supporting cast. It’s great to see Bab’s hanging out with Alysia, the biggest constant in her life other than Dick. The same can be said of Steph, who is spending her downtime with Kyle. The development in her character outside of the costume has been the most evident. Cass differs from the other two, opting to spend time alone but in some unexpected circumstances. Collectively it’s clear just how important these women are not just as heroes, but as people.
The oversized nature of an annual also allows for a truly slow burning story. There’s no rush to get down to business and because of that the pacing feels much more measured. As a problem arises, we’re given time for Steph and Cass to investigate properly without rushing. There’s a crime scene to explore, clues to find and pieces to put together. As it continues it all adds up to a potentially very exciting new arc which will continue in issue #13.
But what about that freaky Friday tease in the synopsis? That does come in to play here, offering Steph and Cass a chance to walk in each other’s shoes. We’re only just beginning to scratch the surface but it certainly doesn’t feel like a forced plot device. Both women have points of envy towards how the other lives their life and now they’re being forced to quite literally live those out. That can only serve the story by pushing their development and their relationship even further in the future.
The team of Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi is unparalleled. The Batgirls 2022 Annual looks stunning. Much like the series has from the very beginning, it shirks the generic mainstream superhero aesthetic for something much more unique and stylised. Their version of Gotham is incredibly vibrant and full of life. Renzi’s colour choices are some of my favourite in any comic book of this year. Look at individual dominant colours for each Batgirl during their intros in this book and it tells you all you need to know about the wonder that lie ahead.
The first ever Batgirls annual arrives at the perfect time. It seamlessly segues between two arcs, giving closure on what has come before and teasing what’s next. Masterfully written and beautifully rendered.