on July 24, 2012
Gail Simone is one of the freshest voices in super hero comics. Her career originated in an online blog where criticizing the victimization of women in super hero stories ("Women in refrigerators") brought new perspectives to a cliché genre. When she took over DC's Birds of Prey she wrote the character Oracle for years and gave her a depth rarely experienced in mainstream comics. Barbara Gordon was one of those victims described above having been shot by the Joker and using a wheelchair since. As the secret leader of those Birds of Prey she grew into a role model for people with disabilities never giving up and serving her best by use of her cunning abilities with computers. Simone, a redhead herself, said that it had been her dream to write Barbara Gordon since her days as Batgirl.
When DC revamped its whole line of super hero comics in 2011 (The New 52) there were many critical voices regarding this decision, one in general that so all those characters with their long history were bereft of their history, the other especially regarding Barbara Gordon who was installed as Batgirl again, evidently not needing a wheelchair any more. (Coincidentally the most prominent wheel chair user of the Marvel Universe, Charles Xavier, walks these days too, miraculously healed.)
Readers using a wheelchair themselves and having chosen Barbara Gordon as an idol felt cheated. They lived in a world where no miracles happened.
In defense of Gail Simone you have to keep in mind that it was editorial decision to make Gordon Batgirl again. And though hesitating Simone finally thought that if it would be done anyway she could be the one doing it in a decent way. And she did. The incident that brought Gordon into a wheelchair DID happen and somehow she got back onto her legs. But the scars kept their mark not only in her body but in her mind and soul. And the story is dealing with it. So the character builds on history and the individual history of the character is the center of the story.
All in all you get a comic book that is a high quality blend of Silver Age touch and modern approach. Ardian Syaf, Vicente Cifuentes and Ulises Arreola add flawless pencils, inks and colors that subordinate to the storytelling and avoid cheap effects. If you think that super hero comics are crap anyway I will not be able to convince you otherwise. But if you like comics, what you get here is a modern and classic approach to a female hero beyond a voyeuristic T&A perspective. If you like comics at all it does not really come better. By the way, compared to other recent publications of both DC and Marvel the price of this beautiful hardcover is modest.
on October 22, 2012
I must confess something, When the new 52 re-launched, I had no intention of trying to read Batgirl. I was coming in for Batman and Catwoman only. But let me tell you that would've been a grave mistake, because Batgirl is one of the best comics rewritten in the new 52. She is a lot like her counter-part from the 1990's animated series, even going so far as to use words like "doofus" and it is really cute. If you liked the show from the 90's, you need to buy Batgirl's comic because it will be a refreshing taste of nostalgia and it might even get you into reading more comics. Batman is the Dark and Nightwing is the light and Batgirl fits neatly in between those two extremes making it appealing to just about everybody. The story is rich and real, and I actually liked both of her villains a lot. They aren't Batman's villains, but they could be. No other Bat Comic has bad guys anywhere near as interesting as Batman's so this is a huge plus for Batgirl and her Author. For the fans who got upset by Barbara being able to walk again, don't be. As soon as you read it you will see that Barbara "Was always meant to be Batgirl." One of my favorite moments of the book was the interaction she had with Nightwing for one issue. This story was definitely written for us girls and when Nightwing and Batgirl part ways so she can find her confidence on her own again you will be so heartbroken. Just as I Believe Batman and Catwoman were Made for each other, I Believe Barbara and Dick are practically soul mates and I Love Barbara's inner monologues. They are very sophisticated but still filled with emotion. The Story on it's own is already good, but Batgirl is definitely first and foremost about the character. What she does is only one part of it and that is how you keep readers engaged.
on July 17, 2012
Now this Batgirl is Barbara Gordon, the classic one everyone and their mother was harping for before the reboot and everyone was cursing when this was announced. First thing to note is that "The Killing Joke" did occur so she was paralyzed and she was Oracle (I'm guessing) but now she's been healed and it will not be known until second or third volume depending upon how generous DC feels like being with these trades. If you want to read in single issues it will be issue number 0 coming in September of 2012.
GOOD: Barbara Gordon is handle by the only person suitable to handle Barbara Gordon coming back, Gail Simone, the writer who made her name by establishing the modern Barbara Gordon. This Barbara Gordon is also one at a very interesting time as she's coping with getting out of the wheelchair, finally, and coming back into the crimefighting scene. Ultimately she's out of her game and trying to regain the confidence that was shattered by the Joker.
The first villain is decent and seems fitting, although Killer Moth would have been nostalgically nice, but nitpicking aside as a villain The Mirror does a great job at challenging the heroine on multiple levels, not just physically by being a tough SOB but mentally and emotionally by making her doubt her recovery. This makes the heroine interesting and the villain threatening.
The dialogue is well done and I can see that Ms. Simone is doing a great job at setting things into place for later stories. Artwork is also good with the mirror shots being really nice to look at. It also makes the fight scenes clear and interesting.
The development of Barbara's mother is building up and if you keep reading you are bound for a really great payoff.
BAD:The second villain is...not very memorable and if I didn't look up her name I wouldn't be able to tell you. Sure she has some interesting backstory but...idk she feels throwaway and I have feeling that we'll never see her again. She doesn't add much like The Mirror did, but at least I could still enjoy the comic because of the main character, something that I find hard to do with Batman comics since the Villains are always the best part.
OVERALL: The story is interesting simply because the character is interesting, though don't expect much from the second villain. By the by I do find this to quite possibly be the second best Batfamily comic.
on January 18, 2013
OVERVIEW: The New 52 Batgirl Vol. 1 is absolutely amazing, and adds a new and fascinating chapter to the life of its titular protagonist. Since her appearance as Batgirl in Detective Comics No. 359 in 1967, rejecting Batman's assertion that she cannot fight crime since she's a woman, Barbara Gordon has always been something of a female icon. Unlike previous incarnations of Bat-girl/Batwoman, who only served as rescue-fodder and romantic interests for the dynamic duo, Barbara Gordon's Batgirl stood on her own as a costume crime-fighter who could think on her toes and put the hurt down on Gotham's criminal element. The New 52 Batgirl brings all of that out and more! Longtime fans of Batgirl won't be disappointed at her return to the cowl, and I think even fans of Barbara Gordon's turn as Oracle will be pleasantly surprised at the depth and intensity the new Batgirl displays.
WRITING: What can I say about Gail Simone that hasn't been said already? She is amazing. The nuance, timing, pacing, dialogue, depth and complexity that she brings to the story are just incredible. She is far and away one of the most talented writers in comics today. Most integral to the New 52 Batgirl is the variety of complex motivations she brings to the table. Both the title heroine and each of her foes are imbued with a realistic sense of purpose and definition that firmly grounds their shared story in the dark and gritty Gotham we've all grown to know and love. Simone's characters show real development, and her Batgirl is a palpable force of justice and compassion in the DC Universe! Based on Batgirl alone, I'll be buying a lot more of Simone's work.
ARTWORK: Gail Simone gets a lot of well-deserved credit for writing Batgirl, but Ardian Syaf makes that writing come to life with some amazing illustration! The New 52 Batgirl is surprisingly realistic, especially when compared to the distorted female figures of comic-book yesteryear. Gratuitous displays of cheesecake are few and far between, and yet the title character still comes off as sexy and sweet. Syaf's Gotham is also pretty cool, combining just enough 60's nostalgia with a hefty dose of shadowy "Gotham-by-night". I'll definitely be checking out more of Syaf's work in the future!
CONCLUSION: Buy this! If you like comics, female superheroes, Gotham, the Bat-family or just great writing and artwork, BUY THIS!
on January 3, 2014
Mirror and Gretel do represent the Batgirl's darkest reflections. Mirror, through the many mirrors on his uniform, reveals to Batgirl her many faces of fear. Gretel, on the other hand, reminds the Batgirl of what could happen to women who want to gain power in a world ruled by men. Like Batgirl, both are survivors. Thus, these two villains are really alter-egos of Batgirl.
In spite the fact that Gail Simone has done an excellent job raising Barbara Gordon from the wheelchair to confront villains who represent her worst fears about herself and the world, her plot lacks the tension necessary to weave a complex superhero story that intends to mix the private life of the alter ego with the superhero's crime-fighting life; and the existential crisis that often occurs in contemporary comics: the "be or not to be" thing. Classic heroes, such as Spiderman and Batman, have gone through this phase. Even writer Cary Burkett used this plot in one issue from 1980, titled Vengeance Trail, where Batgirl considers quitting seriously after breaking her arm (Detective Comics 492, July 1980). Bringing in the private life and the existential crisis has often worked in the past because there are opportunities for narrative tension.
Unfortunately, Simone waters down this tension by abusing Barbara Gordon's voice to tell readers the story in every minute detail. Every time a new issue starts, there is Batgirl retelling past events. Even while Batgirl fights Mirror in a cemetery, she gives readers some history about Gotham's last cemetery. Simone wants to make this Batgirl magazine socially conscious of the evils of urban renewal, but she takes it too far when she wants to use almost every single panel for social commentary.
The events in Barbara's personal life also fail to deliver the tension needed for a good superhero story. Barbara Gordon has a roommate, she dates her therapist, and her mother is back. Tension-building opportunities abound here, but they are missed. The scenes where Barbara exchanges socially with these characters are flat and inconsequential to Batgirl's life. Simone could have added tension by fleshing out these characters, to make them real. There is a lot of narrative potential in Barbara's roommate, and yet, readers have her figured out as a die-hard feminist. There is a strong female cop who wants to arrest Barbara, but that's all readers see about her. Simone simplifies these female characters into an idea, depriving them of the multidimensional spectrum that a lot of these New 52 comics promise. In addition to this, other potential moments for tension were bringing Nightwing and Batman to the story, but Simone failed to leave her stamp on these characters.
Ardian Syaf's illustrations give readers a modern and realistic look to Batgirl and characters albeit they don't deliver equally in the action sequences, which also take away from the narrative tension. Carlos Cifuentes' coloring does an effective job at providing the necessary mood for a story taking place in Gotham. It is probably the best attraction of these issues.
Don't get me wrong. I n spite of it all, I loved seeing Barbara coming back as Batgirl. More than a Batman or Nightwing, she needs some strong narrative support.
on April 22, 2013
Batman said it best in issue #6: "You were always meant to be Batgirl, Barbara." I like that Barbara Gordon is unsure of herself, suffering from insecurity after having recovered from her paralysis at a South African clinic where she underwent a radical new treatment that restored her legs and got her out of a wheelchair (which Joker put her in by shooting her and damaging her spinal cord) (see "The Killing Joke" GN). I LIKE that she's not sure of herself, not a heavyweight brawler like Batman. She has to pick her fights carefully. She is fragile, and that is dealt with in these opening issues, where she's exploring her physical limits, trying not to re-injure herself, but driven by compulsion to fight crime.
There are two villains in this collection. First, a new character named Mirror, and another by the name of Gretl--both "damaged" by incidents beyond their control, which causes Barbara to deal with them out of compassion rather than anger or just the raw power of Batman. She "cares", but not to the point of allowing them to continue their murder sprees. First, Mirror lost his family in a car accident, his wife and two girls burned while he was forced to watch, as someone pulled him from the car and he alone survived. This damaged him, caused him to begin killing people who were saved by miraculous means, which he feels goes against the natural way of things--no one should survive when they were meant to die. Obviously a self reflection--hence, the name Mirror.
The second villain, Gretl, was similarly victimized, but not by an accident but rather by mobsters. She was an aspiring reporter who infiltrated a gang lord's inner circle but was caught, and then murdered. Only, she didn't quite die, and the bullet to her head gave her the power to hypnotize/mesmerize men to do her bidding.
In both of these cases, writer Gail Simone takes the reader on a journey through Barbara's mind, exploring her misgivings and doubts about herself as someone who overcame her disability and was able to walk again. There is a moment when she is uncertain, and even one incident where she freezes and allows someone to die--very human frailties and weaknesses that are often lost on the reader of Batman, who seems all-powerful at times, and only taken down by the most powerful of foes.
Among all of the Bat-series, (and I read them all), I put them in this order by preference:
Batman and Robin
Red Hood and the Outlaws
Birds of Prey
Barbara Gordon is back as Batgirl! As most people know, her character was shot in the spine and crippled by the Joker in Alan Moore's "The Killing Joke" and for years afterwards was in a wheelchair, becoming Batman's tech support as Oracle. With the New 52 relaunch last year, she was controversially taken out of the wheelchair to become Batgirl once again. Interestingly, the events of the "Killing Joke" still happened but 3 years of physiotherapy and pioneering surgery has taken Barbara from the wheelchair back onto her feet. Mentally though she's forever scarred and she's still not 100% physically fit and this book re-introduces her character for a new audience to get to know her.
Barbara is the best thing about the book. Getting to know her character, seeing her back in action as Batgirl, it's all handled superbly by Gail Simone who gives Barbara a genuine voice and depth. In a city like Gotham where Batman has such a firm grasp of the city, it's cool to see Batgirl carving out a niche for herself as another caped crusader while navigating the complexities of her own personal life.
That said, the book is let down by sub-par villains. The first is called "Mirror", a former army guy whose family died in a blazing car fire which he somehow survived. The incident snapped his mind leading him to somehow take revenge on anyone who'd miraculously survived a terrible event. It's not the most logical route to becoming a villain is it? I mean, if he was that distraught, wouldn't he just kill himself? Putting on an elaborate mirrored costume and enacting the "Final Destination" films is just too much of a stretch. The second is a villain who got her psychic powers over men after being shot in the head and surviving. Really?
Anyway, the book is still a great read with enough going on to distract from the hows and whys of these oddball villains showing up - just tell yourself it's Gotham City, the home of the performance artist villain. I'm conflicted over the decision to take Barbara out of the wheelchair as it seems a bit of a cynical decision (and what was wrong with Stephanie Brown anyway?) but Gail Simone's written a fantastic book that gives Barbara Gordon/Batgirl an energetic and fun re-awakening.
on August 21, 2012
After Barbara Gordon was gunned down by the Joker, fans of Batgirl gave up the idea of ever seeing her don the cape and cowl as the greatest female superhero again. Leave it to DC Comics to find a way to miraculously heal Gordon and give the wheelchair-bound character the ability to walk again.
The publishing giant took their New 52 reboot as the perfect opportunity to get the most famous Batgirl back in the game after being confined to helping the Dark Knight and his many family members behind the scenes as the technologically proficient Oracle. "Batgirl Volume 1: The Darkest Reflection" collects the first six issues of her new adventures.
"Batgirl Volume 1: The Darkest Reflection" is made up of two story arcs. The first one pits the superhero against a revenge-seeking nemesis named Mirror. She must stop the villain from killing people who lived through tragic events. Mirror doesn't believe in miracles and plans to play the role of Reaper. Batgirl goes up against a killer calling herself Gretel in the second tale. Gretel uses her power over the minds of men to force them to do her bidding.
Gail Simone is no stranger to penning tales about the females of Gotham City. Her work on Birds of Prey led to the job of writer for Batgirl. She gives Barbara Gordon the emotional layers the character deserves. They help to get you attached to her and invested in the stories. Simone successfully brings Batgirl back and shows her to be a vital part of the Bat-Family.
Ardian Syaf's penciling adequately provides the images to accentuate Simone's words. His illustrations aren't anything unique but bring the story to life in pictures favorably. Syaf's art is strong visually and pleasing to the eyes.
Fans of Batman's extended family will be pleased to see Batgirl back in action. "Batgirl Volume 1: The Darkest Reflection" shows her in fine form and ready for hand-to-hand combat. Her excitement shines through every page of this book and proves contagious as you discover a craving for more adventures.
on June 3, 2013
I've just recently been getting into comics, particularly Dc's new 52 since it's being considered a good place to start for new readers. I loved Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls. I also thought Superman Action Comics Vol. 1 was great. I never imagined that Batgirl Vol. 1 would be my favorite so far! I've always liked Batgirl, but I've never seen her as more than a sidekick to Batman (I grew up watching the classic 90s cartoons). However, what this volume does is make Batgirl a powerful standalone superhero. Batgirl is all the things a great female superhero (or just a hero in general) should be. She's strong and vulnerable at the same time. She's incredibly smart and sexy. Best of all, she's fun! As much as I love Batrman is all his gloominess, it's great to see Batgirl constantly dishing witty comments as she's kicking butt or getting hers kicked (she's kind of like Spider-Man in that sense). Moving beyond Batgirl/Barbara, the other characters are all great as well. The villains are unique and terrifying, the supporting characters are all compelling (from Barbara's father Commissioner Gordon to female police officer Melody McKenna), and the artwork is fantastic throughout. The images are so kinetic and lively, with great colors and detail. Plus, it is filled with action! The overall story arc of this volume is also very satisfying, and without spoiling anything, the last panel of this volume was one of the most poignant things I've seen in a comic. It was the perfect way to conclude this volume, and anyone who is a fan of the Batman mythos will likely love that last panel. To anyone who is a Batgirl fan, you will most likely love this, and those who aren't might become fans after this excellent volume.
on March 16, 2013
This first hard backed volume collecting issues #1-6 of the Batgirl title have been a true treat to read. No more having to suffer through watered down legacy knock-off characters that tried to supplant the character of Barbara Gordon with her super hero crime fighting identity as that Dominoed Daredoll better known as Batgirl, this first volume hits the ground running and doesn't stop!
We meet up with Barbara Gordon on her first night back as Batgirl, after being three years in the past shot through the spine by the Joker, and one year ago having had a surgery that repaired the damage but required a full year of physical therapy to undo the physical wounds, but leaving a bad case of PTSD in it's place as Batgirl tries to get back out into her city to help it's citizens against the criminals of Gotham.
This first volume was a joy to read, and it's so very clear the love and adoration that writer Gail Simone has for this character. The villians are a tad on the gruesome side at times, so I don't recommend giving this volume to any child under tween level, but anyone older as well as adults can enjoy and appreciate this entertaining book.