Batgirl (2011 Series) #1
Writer: Gail Simone
Pencils: Ardian Syaf
Inks: Vicente Cifuentes
Colorist: Ulises Arreola
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover Artist: Adam Hughes
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Publisher: DC Comics
This was one of those “New 52” books that made me feel a real mix of conflicted emotions. I love Barbara Gordon… as Oracle. And I’ve loved her as Oracle for years. But I also trust writer Gail Simone, the person who made me love Oracle, to tell the greatest stories about Barbara Gordon possible, no matter what costume she’s wearing, no matter whether she can walk or not. I was nervous. I’ll admit. But I shouldn’t have been. Gail Simone knocked this out of the park.
Barbara Gordon has regained the use of her legs. We don’t yet know how, but so far that doesn’t matter. With the use of her legs back, she’s reclaimed the Batgirl identity she originated and taken to the streets of Gotham City, seeking a serial killer who calls himself The Mirror. Barbara is back in fighting form, but even though we don’t yet know how she regained her legs, she certainly hasn’t forgotten how she lost them. Flashbacks to the Joker’s crippling gunshot to her spine still plague Barbara… and when the time comes, will she be able to rise above her fear and become a hero of the streets once again?
I’m not really surprised that we don’t yet know how Barbara is walking again, but it’s fair to say that lack of knowledge is the only thing about this issue that disappoints me even a little. Considering how sensitive an issue this is, it may have helped to give a more substantive answer than to chalk it up to an unnamed “miracle” (which I don’t take literally, but some irate fanboys online apparently have). I’m willing to give Simone the benefit of the doubt on this one, I just wish we’d been thrown a bone.
That aside, everything else about this issue is virtually flawless. Simone knows Barbara’s character better than anybody who has ever written her, and even this younger Barbara feels like the same person who graced the pages of Birds of Prey for all those years. She’s tough, but not Batman-tough, and she uses her brain as a weapon moreso than anything else. At this point, her own fear is her greatest enemy, and that makes for a totally gripping read.
Ardian Syaf is one of those artists I truly believe will soon crack into the echelon of DC Superstars. He’s in that position where Ivan Reis or Nicola Scott were a few years ago – turning out beautiful work on a book that isn’t necessarily top-tier (although it’s hard to say exactly where the top tier of the New 52 will wind up), but that’s far too good to be ignored. I hope he has a very long run on this book, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him moving on to the likes of Justice League or Batman should the artists of those titles decide to step back.
Wonderful story, beautiful artwork, and in just the second week, one of the New 52’s greatest comics.