So, I’m not gonna lie here, ever since the New 52 began back in 2011, I’ve been hard on DC Comics. This is mainly due to the fact that in order to make their books more accessable by (selectively) dropping/revamping the continuity of their universe, they lost a lot of the heart and soul of many of their characters. This has lead to much more mediocre storytelling than not. There have been pockets of awesome (Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man, Scott Snyder’s Swamp Thing, Geoff Johns’ Aquaman) but not anything that’s really stuck around. Because of this, I’ve found it hard to stick around myself and read very little DC these days. But I haven’t given up hope.
I keep my eyes and ears open, always listening to what the Distiguished Competition has upcoming in hopes that I may return to their universe for some fun reads in the near future. So far, this method has paid off. I was quite happy with the first few issues of Grayson and am now have the book on my monthly pull list. When it was annouced that there was a revamp of Batgirl coming care of Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr, I made plans to pick up this book with the hopes that lightning would strike twice…..and thankfully, it did! Here’s my review of what I hope will be the first of many positive experiences with Batgirl.
Written by: Cameron Stetwart and Brenden Fletcher
Art by: Babs Tarr and Cameron Stewart
So Barbara Gordon has moved out of central Gotham to the college town community of Burnside. The local residents are mostly trendy college kids that are obsessed with social media and hooking up. After a wild housewarming party, Babs wakes to find that she, along with alot of other folks in the area are missing electronic devices. A trip to the coffee shop puts her in pursuit of one such thief and a chase ensues. Not really gaining any answers from it (as she doesn’t realise there’s a case brewing as of yet) she returns home to find Dinah (aka Black Canary) sitting on her doorstep. Dinah’s building burnt down and she needs a place to crash. This puts Barbara in an awkward situation for a couple of reasons: she’s not talking to Dinah and, oh yeah, she secretly hid all her Batgirl stuff in Canary’s storage space. It’s around this time that the electronics theiving starts to add up and Barbara’s got no time to be mad at her former friend. There’s a crime to be solved.
Through some keen detective work that connects to an online dating social network called Hooq and a blackmail site called The Black Book (which airs all your personal and private info), Barbara tracks down the culprit and throws down with him a nightclub bathroom of all places. Oh, and she also constructs a new batsuit that’s pretty cool. All the while, she still attempts to keep things cool with her new roomate Frankie, and the Canary that’s now living on her counch. The issue ends with another personal problem being dropped in Barbara’s lap: Who knows that she’s Batgirl?
Okay, like I said, I haven’t been reading much DC. The last time I read Batgirl or Birds of Prey was 2011, so there were a few things I was not up to date on when it comes to Barbara Gordon. Thankfully, Stewart and Fletcher provide enough information that new readers can understand what’s going on. The important info is there with the proper amount of implication without having to resort to long exposition or flashbacks of past issues. There’s really no time for any of that as the pacing of this book non-stop. The book is fast and furious with it’s plotting yet does not feel like a runaway train. Each moment is presented clearly, each plot point is concice. We get to know about Barbara’s new life rather easily and it’s a fun read because of it.
What I find most interesting was the exploration of social media and technology and how the current college generation depends on it so much for both work and play. 90% of this story is connected to something computer based. Whether it’s Barbara attempting to find her laptop that has all her work to the showdown with the issue’s baddie, Riot Black, there’s some form of technology at play. What amazes me is that even Barbara is presented as a type of computer in a way. When it’s time for her to jump into action as either a crime fighter or detective, her brain looks at all the angles and brings the most important clues/info to the surface. She investigates her appartment like a crime scene. She calcualates all the scenarios to take down a mugger in seconds. She’s presented as super sleuth 2.0 and it suit her well. The artwork provided perfectly adds to this device.
Babs Tarr and Stewart give us some great visuals. The splash page of Babara’s appartment is a sight to see as it demonstrates everything we need to know about Batgirl and her methods. On top of that, the interweaving of the social media graphics and small asides are seemless and give the book it’s own distinct feel. Add to it some fantastic facial expressions that sell the subtlety of each moment and some fun action sequences and you’ve got a home run in the illustration department.
Riot Black was a weak villain (the guy spoke in hastags. #lame) but served his purpose and the issue definitely had a “CW Pilot” vibe to it, but all in all, a great start to this new chapter for Batgirl. I highly recommend you give this book a read as it’s something fun from DC, which has becomes something of a rarity these days.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!