Guest post by: Tom Tomorrow.
I came to the last Batgirl volume fairly late in the game, but Bryan Q. Miller and Lee Garbett had a really good thing going. Stephanie Brown made a fine, fun, whimsical Batgirl, and the Batman Beyond-style relationship she had with Barbara Gordon’s Oracle was an excellent development for both characters. Between that and being an Oracle fan through several years of Birds of Prey, I thought that the decision to put Barbara Gordon back in tights was unnecessary at best and idiotic at worst. But I gave Gail Simone the benefit of the doubt.
And she deserved it. Simone puts Barbara Gordon in a very interesting place, back in the tights after a lengthy paralysis and “miraculous” recovery. But unlike some bat-themed heroes who can bounce right back after a terrible back injury, Babs still has some psychological hurdles to overcome before she’s completely comfortable in the tights. A lot of this comes out in Barbara’s ongoing internal monologue, which reads like a nice carry-over from both Birds of Prey and the Stephanie Brown Batgirl series. It gets a little muddled in a couple of places, where spoken dialogue shows up in the caption boxes, but that almost seems like more of an editorial concern.
In addition to the character drama, we get to see a nice moment between Barbara and Commissioner Gordon (who’s suddenly a redhead again), and some hints that her superheroics provide at least some internal tension to their relationship. Babs moves out and finds her own apartment, complete with a quirky roommate. Oh, and there’s a mysterious new villain involved, and a team of college-age serial killers who seem like a more sinister, low-rent version of the Terrible Trio.
Ardian Syaf’s art is richly detailed, laying out clear action scenes and the more intimate, personal moments with equal aplomb. He plays around with some unconventional panel layouts, though it’s not always entirely successful. There’s also a pretty glaring artistic continuity error in the first battle that speaks again to the importance of editing.
The biggest problem with the art is Batgirl’s overly-detailed costume. I can understand that Babs would want a bit more in the way of armor, since she’s just getting back into the superhero game, but the whole package looks overdesigned, like it might make a good action figure, but not so much a costume that you might actually consider wearing. There are just too many ribbed, textured, or otherwise fussy details, and I don’t envy anyone who has to draw it for page after page.
But that’s a minor complaint, and overall, minor complaints are really all I have about the new Batgirl. I would certainly have liked to see Stephanie Brown stick around (and apparently she is, in some capacity, somewhere —Cassandra Cain is a murkier situation), and I’m not sure that this book has yet justified the loss of Oracle, but this is Gail Simone doing what she does best, and Ardian Syaf is no slouch either. I hope future issues tighten up the editing a bit, but I’m eager to see where the story goes. KEEP IT.
My Best of 2012 Playlist by Eric Garneau
After being inspired by some friends, for the past few years I’ve been really into documenting my musical exploration with year-end mixes. I realize this is not a particularly novel thing to do, but hey, who has original ideas any more? Anyway, this has gotten even easier to do thanks to new technology like Spotify. read more