DC Comics 2012
The New 52 has been a pretty hit and miss proposition so far. Many books started off very strong and faded within a few issues, others started weak and gained momentum and improved. So far I have not seen much that has held quality through a complete volume yet. So far the only exception has been the Batman book The Court of Owls, an outstanding book from cover to cover. That was before I read the first Batgirl collection by Gail Simone and Ardian Syaf (with Vicente Cifuentes). This was a sold book all the way through.
It has been a year since the “miracle” that gave Barbara Gordon the use of her legs once more and she has wasted no time getting back into costume. For those that don’t know about the wheel chair days, it started in The Killing Joke(read it if you have not already done so) and ran for the last several years in books like Birds of Prey. Her paralysis reversed, she is back to being Batgirl in the new 52. It has been 3 years since Killing Joke in the new continuity (5 years since the first appearance of the DC heroes) and she gets right into the swing of things with a new villain called Mirror. He is a revenge obsessed mystery man with a list of potential victims; all people who escaped death thanks to miracles of one sort or another. At first, he seems like a throwaway bad guy for the first arc, and while we may never see him again, he is a very interesting character by the end of this volume. His story and another revolving around Bruce Wayne and another damaged villain called Gretel, make up the stories here, but the real treat is the way Gail puts it all together. This is a fun book. More adventure and swashbuckling style than dark brooding bat book, this is the Batgirl from the Silver-Age in many ways. That is even referenced a few times and the Barbara of this book is very fun in a style of storytelling that recalls those early stories. Simone knows this character inside and out, and is clearly trying hard to redefine her in a way that does not negate the powerful concept that the Oracle version of the character was.
The art is strong and consistent throughout most of the book, never really wowing, but never flying off the rails either. Much of the New 52 seems to have art that emphasizes action and style over storytelling. This book only suffers from that occasionally, but like most of the new crop, the issue persists. There are very few masters in the field on the art side of DC right now, and they seem to be leaving rapidly, but Syaf’s art is strong and generally easy to read. With time he could become one of the best they have in the stable.
This is a much lighter book than I expected. The bat books can be so dark, it was nice to be surprised. While not for the very young, I think anyone over the age of 12 can read and enjoy this book. As long as you are not still pining for the Stephanie Brown version, this is a fresh new start to an old concept. If this does not rapidly become your Batgirl, then I really don’t think you have an interest in the character.