Camp, Parody, and Political Edge in Batgirl 19

By Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Last July, I wrote at length about Batgirl 13’s full-armed embrace of the campy spirit emblematic of the Batman TV show of the 1960’s, and with Batgirl 19 Hope Larson, Chris Wildgoose, and Jose Marzan Jr. continue to lean into that care-free aesthetic.

Consider Batgirl’s bubble car, outfitted with skis for easy snow mobility, looking like a Happy Meal toy mash-up of Adam West’s Batmobile and George Jetson’s space car.

Or that the devious criminal organization Batgirl initially suspects of nefarious deeds is S.P.U.R. — Stockmen Pursuing An Unbound Republic — a trio of anti-science libertarian cowboys who have taken up board games as a hobby now that the US government has done their job for them.

Maybe surprisingly, that’s not the issue’s only dig at the sorry state of America’s leadership. Burnside’s surprise snowstorm dovetails into some unexpected small talk about climate change and government funding and Larson is blunt in her assessment of Donald Trump’s presidency and the policies his deputies enact, specifically in regards to environmental issues, disguising the target of her ire as superficially as syndicated newspaper comic strips like Mary Worth go out of their way to make up a social media site like “Facelook” to avoid referencing Facebook; there’s no hiding the critique, but the fictional American Weather Administration and its climate change denier boss Denis Albraugh gives Larson enough distance from the real thing to allow a comfortable amount of parody.

That distance could prove useful going forward, since it seems unlikely that Larson’s political edge gets dropped in the near term. That Albraugh is called out so specifically as the cause of trouble without ever putting in a personal appearance in the issue seems a strong indication he’s more involved with the hacking of the AWA’s weather satellites than Batgirl realizes.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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