Batgirl (Volume 1: The Batgirl of Burnside)

Monday, June 29, 2015


Batgirl (Volume 1: The Batgirl of Burnside)
Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr, 2015

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley for the purpose of review.

Premise: Babs moves to a new neighborhood for a fresh start, a new look, and a new outlook.

Reviewing this book is really hard. I think I'm too old for it. (For what it's worth, I am 33.)

I like the art; I like the humor. In principle I like the lighter take and I liked aspects of the story. But for me, it's not my Batgirl, without quite being a brand new Batgirl.

In this volume, they did a soft reboot. The character gets a new outfit, new friends, a new neighborhood to protect, and the protagonist has been called (both affectionately and not) "hipster Batgirl". She does live in a Brooklyn analogue, and is making dumb mistakes the way young people in their early twenties do ... although it bothers me a little that at the same time she's struggling with, not college, but her dissertation. That's just one of the little story mis-matches that gave me pause.

I really enjoy the current Ms. Marvel, whose success clearly paved the way for more lighter, woman-centric fare. And I liked quite a bit of this. The tone is fun, the art is snappy: it has a striking, singular style, without losing clarity. The facial expressions are often great. The visualization of her eidetic memory was very cool.

The writing between Babs and Dinah, or with her other friends, feels pretty good. The love interest(s) I found forced and awkward. The moral is... something about protecting people? I'll admit, at the end there I was far more interested in the pathos of (spoiler) her unhinged AI clone, and was sad when that story wrapped up in such a simplistic manner.

Maybe I would enjoy the next arc more. This one feels like a transition to me. If there had been absolutely nothing connecting it to anything that has gone before, I might have been able to just go with it as a full reboot. But as it was, there are just enough callbacks that remind me of my Barbara: adult, capable, meditative, goddamn majestic at times. And then cute early-twenties-but-acts-like-a-teen Babs is just...cute. Capable enough at times, but not the same at all.

Erin had a really good point about this version of the character: she's Batgirl from the animated show The Batman. If you missed that one (it aired from 2004-2008), it started super rough, but grew into a perfectly good show. This is a great comic version of that character.

This is hard for me, because the book is getting a lot of love, and I'm really happy that lighter comics and comics targeted at girls are being released and gaining traction. This one just isn't for me.

2 Stars - An Okay Book (But, add a star if “The Batman” is the animated superhero series of your childhood, and maybe add another if you’ve never read a comic with Oracle in it.)

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