Batgirl gets a makeover this month.
Cameron Stewart and Brendon Fletcher take over on writing duties, Babs Tarr takes on art and even the tone of the comic has shifted: no more of that dark, gritty, super serious, and generic Batman-lite writing we got with the last run; here we’re promised something more upbeat and lively. How will the changes pan out? Is it good?
Batgirl #35 (DC Comics)
Barbara Gordon is moving on out of her old place (after a fire destroyed everything she owned) and into another district of Gotham called Burnside. However, as she moves into her new digs, she’s greeted by two problems right off the bat: One, Black Canary has shown up (they are still on the outs after that final issue of Birds of Prey). Two, her laptop and a bunch of other electronics were stolen from the apartment after a welcoming party. Not the best way to start off her first official day at the new apartment.
Hey, crime never takes a coffee break so suck it up.
Now this was an interesting first outing for this new team. Story-wise, this is a new beginning issue like how Green Arrow #35 was. It is pretty much setting up the new status quo for the series, who the characters and players for the story will be, incorporating new concepts and story elements, and all of that jazz.
On one hand, as with Green Arrow, this is a very big change from what we’ve seen in the previous run and one that could possibly put off fans of Simone’s run. On the flipside, this change actually gives the comic much more of a unique identity and flavor from your standard fare, grim and gritty Batman tribute. But even beyond that, this book might not be for everyone since its sort of like Gotham Academy in that it’s aimed at more of a target audience (young women) than the general public. Keep that in mind.
Batgirl #35 is also a dense comic. There’s a lot of dialogue, text, and panels within and a lot in general to absorb. Almost every scene or page is used to progress the story, drop hints for later on in the comic, or to develop the characters and tone. While the pacing of the comic can feel slow because of that, the density and amount of content here ultimately was very engaging. The narrative was very interesting since the dialogue and text never felt stilted, forced, or tried to be too hip or modern; the characters might be a little too full of personality and life instead of being mopey and depressed — but maybe some people respond to moving to a new home differently. The denseness of the issue catches up with the story towards the end as well, since the surprise seems shoved towards the very bottom of the page, almost like an afterthought.
Good hands? I doubt it.
The writing and characters here were ultimately very enjoyable. The pacing is a little slow, but it never feels like it drags and the storytelling is excellent. There is some fun humor to be found, the characters were all likeable, fun to read and accurately portrayed. Batgirl especially came out of this a big winner — it’s a joy to see her using her photographic memory and outwitting her enemies in clever ways. Plus, even better than that, there are no overly long internal monologues like in the previous run. That makes me a happy camper.
The artwork by Babs Tarr is very appealing and unique both in comparison to the previous run and almost all other DC Comics. It’s so bright and colorful (and not overly saturated in purple either), giving it a very lively feel and upbeat tone. The characters look great, easily distinguishable from one another and exhibiting a wide variety of emotions and expressions. The layouts are fantastic and creative looking at times, like the scene where Barbara tries to remember what happened at the party. The action is terrific and flows incredibly well during the fight scenes. My only problem with any of the art is that the lettering can be a bit too small in areas to the point where it’s a bit difficult to read.
One complaint I’ve heard about this artwork is that it looked like something out an Archie book and honestly, I have no idea what the hell those people are talking about — it looks nothing like Archie. So don’t let that deter you if you’ve heard something similar.
Is It Good?
Batgirl #35 starts off in a very different direction in comparison to the previous arcs. It goes for a more unique and upbeat take on the character; personally, I say that it is for the better and ends up making Batgirl a much more enjoyable experience in general.
The writing is great, the characters are enjoyable, the artwork is solid, and it delivers a very dense but engaging read from start to finish. If you are looking for a different type of experience with your superheroes, give this a shot.