Sunday, September 18, 2011

Batgirl #1

Batgirl #1 is an extremely difficult comic to review in the abstract. In the abstract, it's an okay comic with some troublesome storytelling devices (narration boxes and flashbacks) used to tell a opening chapter. But as a comic addict, I don't have the luxury of coming in clean, and that makes this issue problematic.

Writer Gail Simone may've just authored her first issue of Batgirl here, but she wrote the lead character, Barbara Gordon, for over five years over in the series "Birds of Prey". And those were some good stories, where Gordon shined as Oracle, a paralyzed information broker who doled out secrets to the good guys and stole them from the bad guys. She was competent beyond belief and the comic often had conflicts that extending beyond people getting punched in the face.

That's what makes this comic seem so weak in comparison. We have Barbara here, walking again (though without explanation), ready to literally kick ass. Simone's formerly deft storytelling descends into standard fare. Barbara finds a wacky counter-culture roommate, uses her father's connections as Gotham City Police Commissioner to track down criminals, and then confronts said criminals by beating them up. It just feels pointless, it's stuff that Barbara did throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s. It'd be like a 61 year old man going to a high school and making out with some of the students (and now you know why I don't like my dad).

Adrian Syaf, the book's artist, has a lot of work to do if this book is gonna start to look respectable. Batgirl's costume really needs to be tweaked. It's done in the style of the recent Batman films, with all sorts of striping, scalloping, and detailing. There's no way that drawing something this convoluted doesn't make Syaf consider sticking his number 2 pencils in his eyes. The amount of work that must go in to just keeping the suit on-model is insane, it must not leave time for him to do much else. The art is lifeless and perfunctory all the way through.

Buy again? No, sorry Gail, you're better than this.

New reader friendly: No, it attempted to return Batgirl to her decades-lost status quo, but ended up being confusing.

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