The last time I purposefully picked up a copy of “Batgirl” was the Barbara Randall-written, Barry Kitson-drawn “Special” from 1988. Soon after, “Killing Joke” set a new status upon Barbara Gordon, and the rest, as they say, is history. Comic book history. This means it can all be undone in the blink of an eye or at the whim of an editor-in-chief bent on returning things to a happier time. Rest assured, Barbara Gordon is in this issue — in her wheelchair. Beyond that, well, I’d rather not play spoiler.
Miller’s story focuses on Barbara Gordon and a few other characters touched by the mantle of the bat. The Batgirl legacy has touched more than a pair of young ladies, and this issue focuses on the connection between those ladies. This is a book filled with self-doubt, introspection, and the attempts made to alleviate oneself of those doubts.
Garbett’s art is both moody and marvelous. Any title set in Gotham is going to be filled with shadows, and Garbett’s use of shadows is on par with the best in the business. His style is comparable to a Barry Kitson with a sliver of Mark Buckingham, and that amalgamation works nicely for the characters, situations, and action in this issue of “Batgirl.” Unlike Kitson, however, Garbett has a tendency to cram details into panels, opting for more rather than better. The skill is there, the talent is being utilized, now Garbett just needs to focus on what is important in the story and make some choices to promote inference above intimate detail.
This Batgirl definitely has fans, and vocal ones at that. I’m certain those fans will be pleased with the developments revealed in this issue as the Batman corner of the DC Universe continues to figure itself out. While that happens, this title promises to be engaging. Miller needs to make a concerted effort to distinguish this title beyond the other Bat-books. Having two fan-favorite characters in this series might be a great first step in the right direction.
Going in with low expectations, this issue certainly delivered more than I anticipated, but in the comic marketplace today, books have to aim a whole lot higher to earn a reader’s money. DC seems to be banking on their readers’ sense of nostalgia as well as the symbol of the bat. Surprisingly, the bat icon plays an important role in this issue, offering a sense of duty to the character wrestling with her decision in this issue. If this book featured OWLgirl instead of BATgirl, I’m not certain it would have seen print.