Review: Batgirl #1

Written by Gail Simone, Art by Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes, Cover by Adam Hughes

Solicitation Info (from Previews): Yes, it’s really happening! Barbara Gordon is back as Batgirl – and she’s going to have to face the city’s most horrifying new villains as well as the dark secrets from her past. You won’t want to miss this stunning debut issue from fan-favorite BIRDS OF PREY writer Gail Simone!

Bias: Meh. I hate to say that, as this title seems to be such a hot bed of controversy, but I honestly couldn’t care one way or the other. I’ve never been that big a fan of the Bat-family books (including the core Batman titles, but excepting Nightwing under Chuck Dixon), and whether she’s Oracle or Batgirl, I’m not terribly excited about this title. Nothing against it, but Gail Simone is going to have to really excite me to get me to pick up issue #2, and I just don’t expect that to happen.

What I liked: The art is beautiful, and the overall story was well crafted. I love the forest that Gail Simone is crafting, even if some of the trees bother me.

What I disliked: The devil’s in the details, and that’s especially true of this issue. It required a lot of suspension of disbelief. I would get to a point where I would simply go “wait…what?!” then try to accept the premise, only to find myself in another of these moments. I put them in the comments because they’re pretty spoiler-ific.

Verdict: I’m going to wait for the digital copy to drop in price to get the second issue – and will probably get the trade paperback if I like it.

As always, SPOILERS in comments, including my favorite scene, thoughts on what happened, and questions about what’s to come.

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2 responses to “Review: Batgirl #1

  1. My favorite scene was Batgirl’s fight with the Brisby Killers – it was fun, Batgirl kicked much ass, and I never felt a need to consciously suspend disbelief. I also loved the “But…we don’t live in Brisby!” bit.

    Some of the details I disliked:
    1) One point that was more a fault of the reader than the comic was her roommate. When she dropped the sunglasses to show asian eyes, I immediately thought of her as Bridget Clancy, the Chinese-Irish landlady/medical student/clinical psychologist from the long running Nightwing series. (It didn’t help that the roommate is never named, nor given an actual profession aside from “working nights.”) So every detail that differed from Bridget just didn’t sit well with me, until I realized why that was. Still bugs me, but at least I know the fault is with me, not the comic.
    2) I didn’t like that the reason why she can walk was glossed over. This should’ve been front and center for issue 1 of Batgirl, especially with how people were reacting to this online. I wasn’t that concerned until I got to the line “For three years, I couldn’t move or feel my legs. Then a miracle happened.” Wait…what? What happened? Not explained (in this issue, anyway), and I think that was a mistake.
    3) She froze when a gun was pointed at her? Um…I’m pretty sure she’s had a gun pointed at her a few times as Oracle. Maybe I’m mistaken. Maybe she froze then, too, and never got over it. Maybe it’s different now that she’s upwardly mobile again (she didn’t have to fear her legs would be taken from her when she didn’t have their use, but now that she does, she’s suddenly afraid of going back to that condition…) Unfortunately, all I could think was “this girl’s screwed if she’s going to freeze when a gun’s pointed at her – practically every mook of every Gotham baddie carries guns!” which lead to the thought that “she’s just not ready to be Batgirl again.”
    4) My biggest problem with the comic was right at the end, when Detective McKenna points her gun at Babs for letting the bad guy push the serial killer out the window. My problem? The bad guy was still in the room! Why would you point your gun at someone who failed to help instead of the person who actually did the deed?! And to blame Babs for not acting, when she had a gun pointed at her seems pretty hypocritical, since Ms. Detective didn’t draw her gun and shoot the bad guy when he had his gun pointed at her! That whole scene just bugs the hell out of me, and since it was the last page of the comic, it’s the note I was left on. Ugh.

    There were good details, too:
    1) I loved the idea of having a mobile base of operations – having all her equipment (including her motorcycle) in the back of the van is just genius.
    2) The bad guy’s modus operandi. I love that he’s killing people who “should not have survived” whatever near-fatal situation they found themselves in – and especially that Barbara Gordon’s name is on the list. That has definite potential, and I can see all kinds of fun Gail Simone is going to have with that one!

    Oh, and as for the Mysterious Hooded Woman…I couldn’t find her in the issue, and I scoured every panel of every page four times! So I’m left wondering if I missed it, if they just didn’t have her in the issue, or if there’s a reason why she wasn’t seen. Maybe the mystery woman is actually one of the women seen in the comic, but from a time before she became the mystery woman. Are we seeing her pre-origin? (I know, I know – doubtful. It was still fun to consider, though!)

  2. Aha! I finally found the mysterious, hooded woman from Flashpoint #5 in Batgirl #1 (via searching online – I know, I know: cheating. But I wasn’t finding her any other way!) She’s in the reflection of the window on the far right of the bottom panel on page 27.

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