I spent some time over the weekend tearing through my back list of unread comics and finally got to reading Batgirl Annual 3. I was actually pretty surprised when this came into my stack a couple of weeks ago. DC has been sportatic with these annuals and there doesn’t seem to be a pattern of when these come out (even stranger this Annual came out the same date as Batgirl issue 42).
Annuals come in a lot of different forms but usually one of three ways. Either an over sized self contained story, an over sized issue to end a big story arc, or an anthology issue (a single issue made up of several short stories). This issue is the first time that Batgirl has done an anthology issue which is one of my favorite types of comics.
Each part of this anthology has Batgirl teaming up with a different member of the Bat family in order to solve the case of the Negahedron. Batgirl works with Huntress/Grayson, Spoiler, Batwoman, and Maps/Olive of Gotham Academy. Whats cool is that this issue changes the art depending on who Batgirl is working with in the story.
The first part Batgirl is on a mission with Huntress (and Dick Grayson although she doesn’t know it) to take down the Negahedron. It features art by Bengal in the style of the Grayson ongoing series which is drawn by Mikel Janin. Here is a sample what it looks like.
The second part continues the Negahedron story with Batgirl working together with Spoiler (aka Stephanie Brown, aka Batgirl number 3). At first I thought the art (drawn by David LaFuente) was in the style of the Catwoman ongoing series drawn by David Messina, since they reference Catwoman 42 in the story. However, looking at the art I think they style they are actually going for is a style based on the art of the current Batgirl series drawn by Babs Tarr. It has a similar stylized and animated look, which you can see in a sample below.
The next part continues the Negahedron story with Batgirl working with Batwoman and is drawn by Ming Doyle. It is drawn in the style of the recently canceled Batwoman ongoing series which was originally drawn by J.H. Williams III. You can see a sample of the art looks like below.
The last part takes place in Gotham Academy and concludes the Negahedron story with Batgirl teaming up with Maps and Olive of Gotham Academy. This part is drawn by Ivan Plascencia in the style of Karl Kerschl. Even though this is the last part of the story this is actually when I noticed the art was not just changing each part, but changing to match the comic of the person Batgirl is teaming up with. The art style of Gotham Academy has a distinct anime / Japanese art style that it is unmistakable (check out the sample below).
For a Annual that I didn’t even know what coming out I was pleasantly surprised by this one. Rather than just a story about Batgirl you basically get a Batgirl comic along with sampler of 3 other comics. I like this issue a lot and hope some other comics use annuals as a way to try out cool new ideas.