Batgirl #16

Story by
Art by
Dustin Nguyen, Derek Fridolfs
Colors by
Guy Major
Letters by
Travis Lanham
Cover by
DC Comics

Nguyen's art here strikes me as a more playful version of Phil Hester's art. Sure, the two are contemporaries with regards to the start of their comic book careers, but I've seen more of Hester's work than Nguyen's. Nguyen's cover is much more painterly than the drawings under the cover. The interior work is primarily composed of stark character outlines with sparse (but critical) detail and backgrounds filled with what appears to be high-contrast lightbox drawings, like "photo tracing" of yesteryear, for many of the architectural forms throughout the book. Together, the end result gives the characters a near realistic ability to project up from the rest of the panel. Balancing the light and the dark, like Stephanie's effervescent personality being balanced against the shadows of the Bat-universe, is a snazzy look for this title.

Miller continues to deliver top notch characterization and fun, fringe-running stories that cast a nice balance between Stephanie's life under and out of the cowl. While Stephanie's supporting cast has expanded from the initial supporting characters introduced as being influential in Batgirl's new lease on life, Miller manages to keep the cast feeling very familiar. There have been a handful of artists that have joined Miller on the adventure and the story has never once skipped or lost a beat.

This issue is the second of two that has Batgirl framed for a murder that she had no part in. With the friends she has, and the discipline those friends exude, it truly seemed out of place to me that Batgirl would be accused of murder, but Miller spends a good deal of time in this issue setting up the case and fully revealing Batgirl's innocence (which, as I already mentioned, was never truly in doubt). This, of course, gives Batgirl a chance to question herself, be glad Bruce isn't there to judge her, and to realize (once again) that it's good to have friends.

With all of the hullabaloo surrounding the Bat-franchise lately, this title has been a little overlooked, just as it was before Bruce Wayne returned. Through it all, "Batgirl" has maintained its consistent, invigorating high quality level of story month in and month out. After sixteen months, Batgirl has grown as a character, but "Batgirl" as a comic has not put any distance between itself and its readership. Some characters are defined by their supporting cast, others gain fame due to their rogues, but Batgirl's very existence is defined by her recognition of self and her choice to try to make things better in the way that only Stephanie "Batgirl" Brown can do so. This is Stephanie's story, and it is a real enjoyable one. Batgirl - this Batgirl - may not be the most recognizable of characters in the DC Universe, but this book makes her one of the most believable, relatable, and approachable. The holidays are here; give yourself a gift of an awesomely fun read. Check this book out.

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