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Batgirl #1 review

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1 Batgirl #1 review on Sat Sep 10, 2011 11:08 pm

The Bill

Pretty much anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I have been a lifelong Marvel Comics fanboy. All I had ever gotten into over at DC Comics was the Green Lantern and Batman. Lately thou, Marvel seems like such a mess and too many of its characters are just so vastly....unrecognizable to me; certainly not the beloved heroes and villains of my youth! When I had first heard of DC's planned rebooting of their entire line of comics, the first thought I had was, "What, again?" (for those not in the know, DC had done a large reboot of its line back in 1985-86 with the storyline "Crisis on Infinite Earths") Due to my sources, I had heard about this a wee bit before the news went public, so I have been mulling this over for a while now.

At my local comicbook store, I was down to only two Marvel Comics (The Avengers and The New Avengers) and two Image Comics (The Walking Dead and Savage Dragon) that I have being pulled for me each month. This is an all time low for me and I was looking around for something new to pique my interest. At least a couple of new titles! Anything! However, I still wasn't sold on DC's reboot, until I saw a particular title in their list of 52 new series.

That name?

"Holy heck!", I thought to myself (actually, I used a bit more colorful term, but I try to keep my language clean on public forums), "Batgirl is going to be back in action? Barbara Gordon as Batgirl? No way!"

You see, I have a longstanding gripe with the way Batgirl had been treated by writer Alan Moore and DC Comics. Back in 1988, a graphic novel was released by DC called The Killing Joke in which Barbara Gordon was shot by the Joker, which injured her spine, permanently crippling her.

As soon as I read this story, it upset me. Yes, I may have only been 13 or 14 at the time, but even I knew then that you can't do something so henious to a character in serialized fiction without taking into account what this does to both the character and the fans. (In case your wondering, there was no plan for Barbara Gordon in place, outside of crippling her for the sake of this single story). While it's true that eventually Barbara was turned into the superhero information gatherer/computer hacker named Oracle, that was due to editor Kim Yale and writer John Ostrander, who were among those displeased by The Killing Joke.

As an aside, this is where my promise to punch Alan Moore in the breadbasket came from. I know people have wondered about that over the years...

Anyway, I could never get much into the concept of Barbara Gordon as Oracle because she was confined to a wheelchair.
Well, maybe I could get into her sometimes...
Hey, I am a dude!

Anyway, considering that she lives in a world of high-tech super science, time travelers from the future, and magic, there was NO reason for her not to be physically repaired. I am well aware of the arguement that Barbara was a legit handicapped hero and as such, she had a special role to play. I can accept that, but it always felt to me to be making lemonade from lemons. DC dug in their heels that Barbara Gordon would remain in her wheelchair and as Oracle forever more.

Until now!

I don't know the behind the scenes story of how someone managed to convince someone else to get Barbara back into the role of Batgirl, but I suspect writer Gail Simone may have had a hand in it. She was the longtime writer of the series Birds of Prey, in which Oracle was the ring leader. Simone is well known in her interest in the character of Barbara Gordon. However it happened, all I know is that I am ecstatic! It's as if a long ago crime is being undone.

Anyway, with all of my rambling out of the way, you may be wondering what I thought of the first issue of Batgirl. Even if you're not, I'm gonna tell you anyway:

The issue starts off with something I thought I'd never see again. Barbara Gordon, as Batgirl, swinging above the streets of Gotham City!

Batgirl had been stalking a group of thrill killers, who had been picking people at random from phone books and then killing them in their own homes. As they were about to do the deed, Batgirl comes crashing thru a window and proceeds to kick some butt!
Batgirl is thinking, "Screw you, Alan Moore!"

After Batgirl finishes off the group, she notes that her legs won't stop shaking and she has to go to the bathroom really bad now that the adrenaline rush is over. That had me laughing, as it really seemed to make her relatable; she's still getting used to being back into the swing of things, almost as if she's a rookie again. We also learn that she still has nightmares about being shot, but after three years of intense physical rehab, she won't recognize the Joker as having beaten her, or the bullet either for that matter. She's one tough lady!

There is also a mystery villain going around killing people whose names are on a list, including Barbara Gordon herself! Should be interesting to see where that leads.

All in all, I am happy with the first issue. Barbara Gordon is Batgirl once again, there was action, humor, the start of a mystery, and perhaps most importantly, Barbara is portrayed as an intelligent, competent, and tough superhero. (she also keeps fully clothed throughout the issue, which seems all too rare for heroines nowadays, but I was actually pleased to see)

Batgirl is written by Gail Simone, with the art by Ardian Syaf and Vincente Cifuentes and cover by Adam Hughes. If you're looking for a new title to try, I'd recommend it Cool

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