After the Mirror arc, the next adversary that Batgirl encounters has a simple story and gets wrapped up in just two issues. Short and sweet, just how I like it.
Gretel isn't all that Babs has to deal with, though. We get more of a look into her past when it shows up at her doorstep uninvited, and on top of it all she invades Bab's home on a baking spree. The issue of Barbara's mother, briefly introduced at the end of issue 4, continues to slowly unfold. And through it all, Babs is still struggling with nightmares about her accident.
One of the things I liked about this arc with Gretel is that her character kept changing her appearances. One day she's blonde, another she's got pink hair, then blue. The extra splash of color and the stylistic difference with that character's art made a great contrast with Batgirl, who used her stellar powers of deduction and research capabilities to find out who this woman really is. Or was.
She enlists the aide of the Batman who, surprisingly, fully cooperates with her down to a T. I half-expected there to be some kind of fake-out in the end, where Bruce was "one step ahead" and got away with Batgirl's triumph over Gretel. But he didn't steal any limelight away from her. Instead, he followed by the theme with issue 0 in which he discovers her talent and praises her. Validates her.
I feel like she got another dose of validation here, too. She briefly felt some doubt about the relationship she shared with Bruce/Batman while he was fighting her, presumably under Gretel's influence. Batgirl stuck to her guns, and thought back on when Batman went to visit her in the hospital after being shot. Just when she pushed her personal doubts aside and decided to keep doing the right thing, he dropped the line she needed to hear -- that she was meant to be Batgirl. It's a powerful line; one that was no doubt crafted specifically for this character, who has a completely different and noble destiny in another universe that doesn't involve running around Gotham in a cape and cowl.
I don't know if things are over with Gretel, though. She seems capable of getting herself sprung out of any situation in which there's a man nearby to hypnotize, so I'm not sure why Batgirl just let her go to the cops without warning. Maybe she decided to have faith in the girl after she confronted her with information about her past, and about how she didn't need to get revenge on anyone any more. And then, despite all the rage earlier in the book, McKenna totally just let Batgirl go like it was no big deal. "See ya around, girlfriend!"
I'm looking forward to the next section. And, I know I've already raved and gushed about the covers, but they just keep getting better. The two for these issues were beautiful, and the upcoming ones are just sublime. Here's your reminder to check out Adam Hughes' DeviantArt gallery.
Grab the first six issues of Batgirl on hardback at Amazon: