It’s been about six months since I last gave “Batgirl” a whirl, which meant it was a good a time as any to take another look. And in that six months? I think Bryan Q. Miller has started to figure out what exactly works.
I like that Miller’s giving Batgirl a personal life as well as a superhero life; sure, most superheroes have the dual identity, but I think Miller makes it work slightly better than average here. It’s something as simple as Stephanie enjoying having no classes on Tuesdays, or playing ping-pong with friends; she comes across as a real person, one who talks back to Oracle’s new “Proxy” and enjoys both her out-of-costume and in-costume challenges.
As for being Batgirl, I think Miller hits just the right balance of competent (after all, she was Spoiler for years in addition to her brief stint as Robin) and learning; something as simple as being Batgirl during the daylight hours is a fun new challenge for her, and her attempts to try and help out the bank are a problem that could’ve happened to just about anyone. Miller also does a good job with Clayface, giving him a reasonable motivation and keeping in line with what we’ve seen from the character in years past. On the other hand, Batgirl’s subduing of Clayface seems to come out of nowhere (I guess if I read the book regularly it’s a tool I’d know about?) and the book in general felt like it ended a little abruptly.
Pere Perez provides guest art this month (no doubt regular artist Lee Garbett is working on his issue of “Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne”) and it’s all right. Some scenes have just what you want: good character designs, an easy flow of action from one panel to the next. Other ones, though, have some slightly misshapen characters (heads in particular seem a little too large in places) or some awkward poses. Clayface always looks good, though, and in some ways he’s the most visually important character in the issue.
“Batgirl” has quietly turned into a solid, dependable-looking book, I had my doubts before on it as a series, but I think Miller’s figured it out and moved it in the right direction. Fans of the character are definitely getting a book worth their time, and I appreciate that Miller isn’t afraid to tell single-issue, classic stories here. I’ll definitely dip in and take another look on a slow month. It’s a nice surprise to find a book where it’s been improving over time.