Gail Simone and Ed Benes’ “Batgirl” #0 opens up four years ago, shortly after the start of the rebooted universe and covers a whole year by the end of the issue with a final panel that is as stark a cliffhanger as this new “Batgirl” series has endured. Although readers already know what comes after the final panel — a problem with the selective reboot — Simone is a talented enough writer to overcome the obstacle.
Using Barbara Gordon as the point of narration, Simone takes the reader on trip to Gotham Police headquarters where Barbara and her brother James Jr. spend the day as guests of their father, Commissioner James Gordon. Barbara uses the ruse of performing research for her criminology class, but she’s really there to try to learn more about Batman. Simone writes Batgirl as if it were her own voice. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were revealed that Simone puts on a cowl when she writes this book.
Naturally, Commissioner Gordon’s worst fears are realized as the station is attacked. With an ox of a man pursuing them through the precinct, Barbara and James Jr. have to outwit their foe. The plot allows for a non-standard artistic offering from Benes. Clothed in a casual skirt and top outfit throughout the story, Barbara isn’t subjected to some of the poses comic readers have come to associate with Benes’ drawings of females. Benes focuses on delivering clean figures in a detailed world and does a great job of it. This is a beautiful looking book as Benes’ art looks like Ulises Arreola colored it straight over the pencils. The duo delivers a montage page worthy of framing, filled with sentimental warmth due to lighter “inks” and softer colors.
Zero month is supposed to be an outreach program that lures new readers to comics and it’s something the Bat-family of titles has done very well so far both in quality and concept. In “Batgirl” #0, Simone and Benes deliver another good series installment that utilizes the zero month concept to the full, setting up the character’s future adventures, reflecting on the past and teasing out some mysteries to be revisited another day. More importantly, Simone hits the nail on the head with this book, making it the perfect entry point for readers of all ages.