In South Korea, Batgirl gets caught in a showdown against Hardhat, Moth and Schoolgirl, who finally tell her the reason why they (and their mysterious Teacher) have been so eager to get their hands on Kai and it’s… to help them pass their exams?!
Barbara’s hunch about Kai being a human delivery system for a bio-encrypted formula proves correct, but it’s too late for him as he’s ambushed on the streets of Shanghai by Teacher. After doing some more research on the formula – which enhances brain power but has potentially lethal side-effects – Batgirl travels to see Kai and confronts him with the truth.
Kai, regretful over his actions, still fears for his life though as his business partner has run away with the money they were paid for him to deliver the formula. Now the formula has been extracted from him, he’s in big trouble. Batgirl, desperate to bring this matter to an end, has a flash of brilliance that Teacher must have recruited her students by placing adverts, and begins tracking her down…
Putting aside all of the other negatives about Batgirl #4, there’s a fundamental problem with this whole story, which is this:
Why should the reader even care?!
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t care about Kai, his problems, his safety or him being an old friend of Barbara Gordon. I don’t care about the bio-encrypted formula, I don’t care about the school and Teacher, I don’t care about Hardhat and Moth… and sadly, I don’t care about Batgirl/Barbara Gordon in this series.
Initially this storyline had some potential to be a fun one, but with each issue it’s becoming increasingly frustrating to read.
Barbara’s detective work is based on nothing more than a series of unlikely guesses, all of which magically are right, a huge disservice to her intelligence. Kai seems to get dumber with each passing issue. Barbara screws up the Wi-Fi of kids attempting to download their term papers with nothing more than an embarrassed grin, like it’s cute. Villains explain their plans to her – in English! – like they’re Doctor Evil, clearly not minding that Batgirl could stop them based on what they’re saying. Meanwhile, Teacher’s advertisement to recruit students to her clandestine operation on the internet is… well, you get the idea.
It’s things like this which bring this issue to a grinding halt at all the wrong moments. It’s still telling a relatively cohesive story, but that story isn’t particularly good. It looks okay on the surface, but the suspension of disbelief has crashed down with a dull thud. Because of that, at the end of the day the only thing keeping readers from ditching this series is a love of Batgirl as a character. But, as stated, there’s no reason to care about her here.