The new Batgirl series is easily the most controversial of the bunch. Many people, myself included, didn’t want to see Barbara Gordon back as Batgirl. I felt that she was a much more important and dramatically powerful character as Oracle, in a wheelchair.
This book is written by Gail Simone and drawn by Adrian Syaf. The artwork is the comic book-y stuff with a dark edge and good amount of detail that you would expect from a Batman related series. It’s nothing amazing but it’s solid and it does its job well.
I actually saw a preview of this book a couple of weeks ago. It was more or less the first five pages, if I remember correctly. Based on that alone, I thought that this was going to be one of the books I would cut first. It also made me question why Gail seems to be so popular as a writer. Well, just as you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you shouldn’t judge a comic book by the first few pages.
We’ve been told that the DC universe is now set to a time where superheroes have only been around for about 10 years, excluding Batman and Green Lantern who have both been around longer. In that time they have become more and more common. The Justice League has apparently been around for five years. In this issue, we learn that Barbara Gordon was shot by the Joker three years ago and couldn’t walk. That’s the old story set in the new timeline. It’s unclear, however, if she was ever Oracle.
This book has “Babs” just returning to being Batgirl. She had been in the past, was paralyzed, and is now back. She’s rusty and it gets her into trouble. You see a little bit of development toward growth in this issue and I think it’s pretty clear that the series will largely be about that. There will even be some attention to her recovery from being in a wheelchair. That’s cool. Even though what I feel is the better character for Babara Gordon is now gone, she hasn’t just been disrespectfully erased.
This issue also included a prologue where a character is introduced. I expect that this “Mirror” is going to be the villain for the first arc. He seems to have some ability to let people see their “true selves” or at least something that terrified them. Then he kills them. Mirror seems like the sort of badass that you don’t normally see in media; He doesn’t point his gun then talk or intentionally hesitate or whatever. If he wants someone gone he just fucking kills them so nothing will stop him at the last minute. At least, it seems that way until he encounters Batgirl at the end of the issue. He couldn’t just kill her because that would make this the shortest ongoing series ever but it still feels like a break from character when he doesn’t. It may have been intentional, however. He points his gun at Batgirl in the same way that the Joker did and she freezes. Then he wins the day by getting his target while Batgirl just stands there (with people witnessing her failure, no less).
While there could have been more background stuff included, Gail Simone probably felt it was safe to go light on that with such a well-known character. She’s probably right but I’m still personally of the belief that this relaunch should have been a full reboot, starting with origin stories and all. Aside from that, this is probably the most solidly written book of the few I have read so far. It introduces the character, it shows where she is at in life currently, and it hints at where she has been. It introduces the villain, leaves plenty of questions about that villain, and, probably most importantly, it introduces heaps of conflict and potential conflict that are entirely unrelated to the super villain. This one was very well done and if you haven’t read it yet, you should. I’m sure that there will be at least a second printing. Now that word is out about the quality of this book, though, there could be even more.
Oh, before I’m done, I do have one nitpicky thing to say. Apparently, Babara found her new roommate (at a university, I think) through “Greg’s List”. That made me, as they say, facepalm.