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26 of 52: Batgirl #1

by on September 7, 2011

Okay… I picked the most obvious one (well, this one or Action Comics). I picked the one that everyone was buzzing about. Barbara Gordon back in the Batgirl costume, Gail Simone writing…

Hey sue me, but I wanted to make sure I started on a good note. And I have always enjoyed Gail Simone’s writing, which I cannot say about everyone else who has titles released today.

As always, I will try to keep the review as spoiler-free as possible. But there weren’t many secrets revealed here.

So let’s dive into my second New DC Universe Title: Batgirl #1

DC Comics: Batgirl #1
Writer: Gail Simone | Penciller: Ardian Syaf

A new villain called The Mirror is in town, and has a list of people who he is trying to kill, his face is that of a shattered mirror.

Barbara Gordon is back in costume and has been tracking the Brisby Killers, a gang of young rich thrill-seekers who live off the fame of seeing their names in the papers. The gang, wearing retro 70s Halloween costumes, invades an apartment, with the intent of adding a new family to their reputation, when Batgirl comes swooping into the house. She is able to pretty easily subdue the gang, and saving the lives of the family.

Barbara still has nightmares about The Joker shooting her in the abdomen and shattering her spine, confirming that she was indeed previously confined to a wheelchair. This is hammered home even more when she moves in with her new roommate, Alysia who she met on Greg’s List (DC Universe Craigslist knockoff). Her roommate helps her move her junk out of a van that has a wheelchair lift.

Barbara gets a message on her phone that an incident is happening at a local hospital, and Batgirl rides her Batcycle to investigate. In a hospital room, she confronts Mirror who is after a man being guarded by two Gotham police officers. The confrontation between Batgirl and Mirror ends the book.

Analysis:

A first episode is difficult no matter what. Your job is to cram enough information so that you care about the characters in the story, and provide enough story to have the readers be interested in a second issue.

On the good side, Gail does a really nice job of trying to place Barbara Gordon into this new DC Universe. In a short time, we understand what happened to Barbara, where she is currently, and what she likes to do. The artwork does the job. The new villain of Mirror and the mystery of the list is enough of a tease.

However, the execution of this comic book is too sloppy. The comic doesn’t explain how Barbara has been tracking the Brisby Killers. Barbara’s roommate is introduced, and three pages later her name is revealed. The art direction is really bad, several scenes that don’t make any sense from a visual standpoint. Most jarring is a scene where Barbara pulls out a Batcycle out of her van while wearing street clothes, and then is driving down the streets of Gotham in her Batgirl costume.

The characters are thrown together so quickly. Barbara’s roommate hugs her having just met her. In the final scene, a police officer assumes that her partner is dead (after he was shot), demands that Batgirl take down a bad guy (not knowing who she is), and then pulls a gun on Batgirl while accusing her of murder when the bad guy is still in the room.

And the depiction of Barbara just doesn’t really flow in this book. It has been over 20 years since Barbara has been in costume, and in that time there have been 2 Batgirls, 1 Batwoman, and 1 Huntress. Other than having the resources of being Commissioner Gordon’s daughter, this issue gave no indication of what makes Barbara Gordon unique.

Verdict:

I really wanted to like this book, but I was VERY disappointed. Anyone can write a rushed story, especially a debut issue. And there was undue pressure to reintroduce Barbara as Batgirl to a 21st century audience. Even the best sometimes fall short when the pressure is on. And it definitely felt that Gail and artist Ardian Syal were on two completely different pages in terms of communication.

There is a chance that I will continue reading this title (either online or in TPB); however, that will be on the credit of Gail Simone I like who as earned my respect, not due to the quality of this issue.

C- (Disappointed)

On the fence whether I will read next month, and I’m being kind

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From → Comic Books, DCnU

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