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Batgirl #1

DC

Written by Gail Simone; Art by Ardian Syaf (penciller), Vicente Cifuentes (inker), and Ulises Arreola (colorist); Cover by Adam Hughes

Sep 09, 2011 DC Universe Bookmark and Share


When it was announced that Barbara Gordon would be returning as Batgirl in DC Comics’ New 52 universe, the main question comics fans had was how they would deal with her being paralyzed back in The Killing Joke, if they’d deal with it at all. Well, in this new continuity, the shooting of Barbara did happen and has, of course, deeply affected her, as is manifested in the last few pages of the first issue of the new Batgirl comic. This, not surprisingly, is the most interesting aspect of issue one. Without it, Batgirl risks being a fairly run-of-the-mill vigilante/superhero comic.

In Alan Moore’s acclaimed 1988 graphic novel The Joker shot Barbara, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down and wheelchair-bound. For the last 23 years of comics Barbara has been a behind-the-scenes hero, working as Oracle, a surveillance and computer expert who helps other heroes, such as the Birds of Prey team, remotely. It actually turned Barbara into a far more interesting character, the leading handicapped hero in comics for the last two decades. Whereas before she was simply a young protégée of Batman whose most interesting characteristic was that she was also secretly Commissioner Gordon’s daughter, post Killing Joke Barbara had to deal with her disability and find ways to take action without getting physical. Imagine going from the freedom of swinging from rooftops and kicking bad guys’ butts, to sitting behind a glorified desk and computer. It was devastating, but Barbara was all the stronger for it. Meanwhile, in the last two decades Cassandra Cain and then Stephanie Brown both took on the identity of Batgirl, but neither were as iconic or interesting as Barbara Gordon.

With the new Batgirl comic writer Gail Simone (who has long written Barbara as Oracle in Birds of Prey) hopes to have it both ways. Barbara gets to be physical as Batgirl, confronting a band of Halloween-themed serial killers in the first issue, but also has the weight of dealing with the aftermath of overcoming her disability. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out in the coming issues. And a new villain named The Mirror is intriguing as well. It’ll also be fascinating to see how this version of Barbara Gordon interacts with Batman and if, and when, she’ll confront The Joker again.

The art by penciller Ardian Syaf is good, but not particularly memorable, especially when compared to Adam Hughes’ striking cover. The star here is Simone, one of the best-regarded female writers in mainstream comics today. Let’s hope that she can continue to keep Barbara Gordon one of the most compelling female characters in contemporary superhero comics. (www.dccomics.com)

Author rating: 6/10

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