Written By: Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher
Art By: Babs Tarr & Maris Wicks
Let me start this off with an apology. I am sorry, I should have reviewed “Batgirl” when it initially relaunched at issue #35. So I’m making amends, today I will review issue #36 while dabbling in issue #35. The first thing to say about the series is that is the best way to reinvigorate the series. So often, comics relaunch without making significant changes and end up going away just as quickly (I’m looking at you Fantastic Four). “Batgirl” drops a lot of the baggage it had before in favor of a complete revamp. It also brings something the DC universe is sorely missing, fun.
In this issue of “Batgirl”, Barbra fights a pair of twins that ride around on rocket bikes with ninja swords. I want you to stop and go back to that last sentence. Did you read it again? I feel like I can mike drop now, point made. Batgirl actually fights some anime looking biker ninja chicks and it is a really colorful and fun fight. For so long, all of DC has decreed that fights will take place in dark sewers or dirty alley ways. So when “Batgirl” has a bright and colorful fight in the middle of a college campus with vibrant butt kicking, it feels like a glass of cold water in a desert of boring and dingy shadows and dirt. What’s even better is that “Batgirl” is cool fighting but it’s also a look into Barbra’s normal life.
So we all know that Barbra Gordon is a genius. She more than proved herself as Oracle and was on a higher level than Dick, Tim, and even Bruce. Now we see that pay off as she goes to college. Not as a student but as a research assistant, hired on because an algorithm she invented kicks ass! Yeah I didn’t understand it either because it’s written in such a way that it doesn’t matter if you understand the concepts, but what it does do is two things. First, it flushes out the world of Barbra Gordon. She lives in a place with people and stuff! Okay that does sound really generic bordering on sarcastic but it’s true. Too often, DC books are all about the world of the superhero and the life behind the mask just disappears. The second thing it does is show us just how mind boggling smart Barbra is. It helps for later when she’s solving crimes as Batgirl and looking at clues. You really get that she could suss these things out in her own brain, this isn’t just hand of God coming down to help the protagonist out of an impossible situation.
One of the other great things about this book is the people, the book is absolutely filled with them. By that I mean background people in “Batgirl” have personality. Take Black Canary for instance. Dinah shows up in issue #35, Barbra and her end up not on god terms but Dinah needs a place to sleep so Barbra lets her sleep on the couch. This does not mean they are friendly to each other! Issue #36 opens with Dinah being catty at Barbra for perfectly legitimate reasons. This is so much more personality than she ever had in “Birds of Prey” and she isn’t the only one with personality. Actual people are dropped into this book over and over. Her roommate? A code programmer for the equivalent of tindr and she has a vivacious social life. Her research assistant at university? A girl of Muslim decent with a brother in the tech labs who’s working on the jet engine bikes. All of these people build together and meld to create this lush world that Barbra inhabits, and none of it seems forced. This is just the life that Barbra inhabits.
I think the only criticism I can level at the book is that sometimes it comes off as what forty-year-olds think kids in their twenties are like. But you know what? I’m just edging out of my twenties myself and I don’t know what twenty somethings do so their guess is as good as mine. Honestly, the goal here was clearly to make a fun superhero book, something with heart more than anxiety. That’s clearly the case because the stakes truly aren’t that high in the book. Somebody might or might not know that Barbra is Batgirl and is threatening to maybe released it if they can find some time in the future. That’s it. But comic books don’t need the megalomaniac hovering his finger over a “Destroy Happiness” button for there to be interest in the book. Everything is just fine, copacetic, groovy, let’s move on.
“Batgirl” does what is so essential to making a long lasting book. It has to start at a point of low stakes, there has to be a clear world built around them, and they have to have wants and desires. “Invincible” was ten out of ten for this. Mark was in a world clearly dominated by superheroes and superhero troupes, he was just a kid starting out as a brand new hero, and he clearly wanted to be just like his father, an inspirational figure he looked up to more than anything. “Batgirl” did a great job relaunching because all of that is clear from the onset and allows the comic to move on and just tell the story, the story of how a sweet little red head struggled through being a regular human being while spending her off time leaping around at night in yellow boots and a purple jumper. “Batgirl” issue #36 is 88% Invincible and it’s only getting better with every issue.