Batgirl #1 a review

I like female main characters sometimes more than male. Particularly in an area where a genre is male-dominated. It’s a different animal to see a female struggle with a problem than a man; particularly with comics. Bruce will often break a kneecap where Babs might do something with more finesse. Not that this incarnation of batgirl is above busting heads. The girl-centric books also seem to be unafraid of a little humor than the male books. No guy can get away with asking someone to “be a lamb and hit the 14th floor” while riding a motorcycle in an elevator.

Writer Gail Simone sets the story some time after Barbara Gordon’s recovery from paralysis in her legs. This paralysis occurred in the Killing Joke written by Alan Moore where the Joker opens the door to Commissioner Gordon’s home and shoots Barbara in the stomach- paralyzing her. We don’t yet know how this has happened and we’re all adjusting to this change. Barbara is also adjusting to it. In fact she still drives a wheelchair-accessible van.

One of the more interesting parts of the comic I found was Barbara’s new perspective when talking with other… what’s the correct term? Able-bodied? I’ll go with that for now. When she speaks with others about the disabled, it’s like there is a hesitancy to no longer include herself among them and it’s not till later we learn there are multiple ways a person can be “disabled.” I’ll say no more because I don’t want to ruin the surprise and what I would call the hook of the book.

I like that Gail is going with a new villain. Although I can think of a thousand new internet meme’s the Mirror is going to create with people asking, what he’s really showing people on his chest when he opens up his cloak/trench coat outfit? Still I like him as a bad guy. He’s simple in terms of what he wants (to kill people) and he’s methodical (there’s a list.)

Reviews are about good and bad and while I’ll say there mostly good, there was one piece of internal dialogue, something like “Gotham, bless my aim,” which sounds like something Wonder Woman would say to me, not batgirl. The rest of the internal dialogue is genius. It feeds into the idea that Babs is still trying to relearn this stuff and she is coaching herself in her mind, something you wouldn’t see Batman or Nightwing do. They don’t have to, they never really got off the bike. Okay, maybe they did once or twice, but not for three years straight.

Questions I was left with: if we’re going to keep continuity, besides the obvious one of miraculous healing, how is it Babs is so poor? She was Oracle not a month ago (our time.) You know, technogeek and infobroker to the hero community? I have yet to meet the IT geek who couldn’t pay a decent rent. It could be she’s just trying to distance herself from the oracle persona and part of that is a vow of near-poverty, I don’t know.

Other questions I have I want to ask carefully, so as not to ruin the surprise. I am curious to see how batman feels about Babs back in action. Also whether the two previous batgirls will make an appearance and perhaps a helping hand in new adventures. Both had to make the mantle their own and, in a way, redeem themselves or grow up. I’m wondering if they’ll help Babs make a similar change. If she’ll allow someone else to help.

One thing I hope I see more of us Barbara and her father. There is a side to both characters that only shows up when one is interacting with the other. I’m going to go out on a limb and say there aren’t many good family relationships in comics. This is one of the best when it’s done right. At least between people who are both still alive in the canon. In every version of Barbara and Jim, animated or comic, I always feel a warmth when I think of it; particularly when Jim tries to set his daughter up with a nice shiny new policeman on his force who just needs “someone to show him around town.”

All in all, I think this issue treated the strange request of undoing Babs paralysis perfectly. It sets up a lot of intrigue for the first story arc and I am digging the art. I can’t wait for issue #2.


About Keith Osmun

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