By Ginger De Los Rios
I’m very excited to be reviewing the 1st Batgirl issue of the DC Comics new 52 and to be honest I don’t particularly know why. I have never been a serious comic book collector and never really owned a Batgirl title. My real comic book knowledge comes from tearing into…err…gently reading nearly every Batman comic book my brother had in his big collection from the seventies and eighties. That is the Batman/Batgirl/Robin etc; I have grown up with, and grown to love most. But I am caught up in the fervor of the new releases and Batgirl has been down for too long. After reviewing this I’m going to watch the wonderful Batgirl episodes from ‘Batman the Animated Series.’ And did you know that Batgirl even had her own unaired Pilot in the sixties? It is available on YouTube.
The cover art is gorgeous and will immediately catch anyone’s eye. Batgirl is coming right at ya in all her splendor. The entire comic is beautifully rendered in shiny, bright colors that really pop. I love her costume! It’s sleek, and it preserves the big yellow bat across her chest. (Though it’s looking more golden now.) She also has a very feminine purple lining on the inside of her cape. The mask is pretty, though it may be too revealing around the eyes. But what the hey? The average frightened crime victim may never take the time to notice, especially in the dark. This new version of Batgirl doesn’t stray from her roots. She is still Barbara Gordon, the beautiful, determined, redheaded daughter of Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon.
This is Batgirl’s first mission since the Joker shot and paralyzed her three years prior. Everyone remembers Alan Moore’s ‘The Killing Joke’ from 23 years ago? WOW, I didn’t realize it’s been that long since poor Batgirl has fought crime! In this new revamp, Barbara had been away for some time. It’s not really explained or shown how she retained the ability to walk, let alone become the daring Batgirl again. But you are left to imagine that she may have had the best of the best doctors, surgeons, physical therapists, etc, no doubt paid for by a mega-rich benefactor named Wayne. She was after all, Batman’s star pupil. (Barbara’s words, not mine.)
Our story revolves around a ruthless new villain called ‘Mirror.’ Because I haven’t read comics in years, I had forgotten how brutal and violent they have become and surprisingly Batgirl is no exception. Right in the first few pages we see an ominous gloved hand with spikes on the knuckles holding the water hose against the mouth of an old man tending his garden. This is no random killing, there is a list with crossed out names and you clearly see that Barbara Gordon is on it. The old man is literally drowned when the gloved killer shoots water down his throat. Their reason for the killing is a little vague, but we’ll surely learn more in future issues. The victim is told– “You survived the sinking of your transport ship off the coast of Portugal during routine maneuvers in calm conditions. Twenty-seven of your fellow sailors did not.” The entire scene gave me the chills and unfortunately as Mirror goes down their list, you know the body count will rise.
Meanwhile, Batgirl had made an explosive entrance on a nicely rendered splash page, she’s in peak condition and ready to fight crime. We eventually learn through her sleek, black, purple and yellow texted thought boxes that Barbara is torn between her desire for hero-worship and her paralyzing fear of failure. She single-handedly brings down a whiny, murderous gang in Halloween masks that has made a home invasion on a couple just for kicks. Barbara thinks like a very young woman and when the wife thanks her and calls her ‘Batwoman,’ she corrects her. She’s Batgirl.
Our new Batgirl is ready to grow up and move out of daddy’s apartment, but it’s not clear what she does for employment since she sleeps the days away. I’m hoping she’s still a librarian. Babs is still haunted by dreams of the Joker, but she is determined not to let the past get the best of her. She moves in with a new roommate named Alysia. She is a tough Asian girl and self-proclaimed activist that paints ‘FIGHT THE POWER’ in red on her walls and gives her a fist bump, yet later she’s also a ‘hugger.’
I’m not too keen on the idea of Superheroes having roommates unless they are willing to share their secret identities. It’s just not practical. Alysia is already questioning why Barbara has a wheelchair lift in her van. And Babs thought she could hide the inside of her van from her. What makes it even harder is that she also keeps her very cool Bat-motorcycle stashed in there…somewhere. But I guess the economy is hitting everyone hard these days. How Barbara and Alysia’s friendship evolves remains to be seen in future issues.
Batgirl reveals a cool trick on her cell phone; she secretly routed her father’s text messages to stay on top of her crime-fighting game. However, she has a lot to learn. Would Batman seriously drive his bat motorcycle “Sorry, Batgirl, Emergency!” through the hospital and find himself wasting precious time getting stuck in an elevator, motorcycle and all? There’s one thing about Batgirl that puzzled me; she never had a real reason other than she idolized Batman enough to take on the mantle of crime fighter. There was no driving force. Well now that she had been nearly killed by the Joker there is, and she has brief thoughts about how she hates home invasions and hospitals. No doubt her biggest sympathies lie with those types of crimes.
The dreaded Mirror is finally revealed toward the end after they storm a hospital, slam the receptionist with their knuckle spikes and shoot the security guard point-blank in the head. Ouch. Oh, and then they shoot and kill a police officer and wound a female detective. They are after the next person on their list, one of the ‘murdering scuzz’ from the earlier home invasion Batgirl thwarted. This threw me off a little, because back on page 3, Mirror crosses off the name ‘Graham Carter’ which you assume is the old man. Barbara Gordon is supposed to be the next victim, not this dude. Apparently Mirror took some detour…unless they already know Batgirl’s secret identity and planned it that way for the shocking cliffhanger. Maybe Mirror is Alysia, but it’s too soon to guess.
Mirror looks like a twenty-first century Grim Reaper in a full black hooded costume with mirror shards covering the face and a round mirror across their chest. Have a good look at yourself before you die. They are there to make retribution.
This lunatic could give any Batman villain a run for their money and I almost wish Batman would stick his nose in somewhere in the future. He’s desperately needed here after the cliffhanger. Let’s just say that Batgirl is now right up there with Batman as a vigilante menace to society and is promptly labeled a murderer. Poor Barbara’s posttraumatic stress couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Overall Grade 9 /10