Monday, September 5, 2011

Batgirl #1

Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Adrian Syaf
Company: DC Comics

Batgirl and Gail Simone.  The two go together like jam and toast.  Like peanut butter and bananas.  For years, Simone's characterization of Barbara Gordon in the Birds of Prey title has enamored people and made her one of those characters to always root for.  She was the glue that held the team together, the one who never forgot that she was a hero, even when the chips were down.  She suffered for that at the hands of the Joker.  She was strong and always in control and never stopped.  Now, with the DC relaunch we get to see Barbara in a new light.  No longer is she behind the computer, fighting crime in her own unique and awesome way, she is back on the streets and swinging from rooftops, cracking heads and taking names.

In this first issue we the reader are reintroduced to a younger Barbara, deal with her back history, are thrown into a home invasion,  introduced to a new and creepy Super Villain, and watch as our hero deals with the emotional trauma that stemmed from Alan Moore's story, The Killing Joke.  It feels a little strange that that story is still in there, but I can see what they're trying to do with it, and it is at this point one of those beloved stories.

More importantly than all that, what's great is Batgirl's character.  Through inner dialogue dispersed throughout the issue we get to know the new Barbara and find out that she's not too much different than she has been.  There are other things in the issue too, the things that the internet has been a buzz with wanting to know.  That mostly has to do with Barbara's injuries and her relationship with her Father, but half the fun of the issue is finding that out for yourself, so I won't be spoiling it.  Just know that it is referenced and done well.

The other half of the book, the art, is handled by Adrian Syaf.  A few years ago, Syaf hit my radar with his work on The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle.  Since then he's worked on several DC comics, most notable one of the Blackest Night minis.  His style is fairly traditional, all things considered, but it has been improving with every book that he tackles.  With Batgirl, his action is much smoother and snappy, and he conveys character emotion with a deft hand.  There's also quite a few characters that appear in this book, and it's never a chore or a problem to figure out who is doing what, no matter who is flipping, fighting, or being thrown out of a window.

Truthfully, I had hoped for a bit of a stronger opening for the book.  It's by no means a horrible start, but it's a little on the slow side and skews to the more realistic and dark nature that some of the new DC books are striving for.  I'm not a personal fan of that style of story telling, as realism in comics is highly overrated, but that in and of itself does not make this issue crumble or be any less enjoyable.  The neat ideas and the very character centric stories that Simone is known for are still there.

This is an advance review.  Batgirl #1 hits comic stands this Wednesday 09/07/11.

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