Barbara Gordon is Batgirl again. She couldn’t walk for three years, now she’s back on her feet and kicking arse. But not that well. As we join her, tackling a gang of murderous home invaders, luck and psychology play as big a part in her eventual success as physical skill. Because while years of handling a wheelchair have given her good upper body strength, her legs aren’t as strong as they were.
Next morning she’s moving to her new flat and getting to know roommate Alysia when an alert takes her to the Sacred Hands of God Hospital, where one of the home invaders hurt by Batgirl is being menaced by the killer known as Mirror. Irony is the newcomer’s thing, putting down scumbags in the manner in which they saw off others. So it is that at the start of this issue a man involved in the loss of 27 sailors suffers death by water pistol. It’s different …
Racing into the hospital on her Bat-Cycle, Batgirl confronts the villain and freezes. Mirror points a gun at her spine, bringing flashbacks to the day she was shot by the Joker, and someone pays for her hesitance.
This is a fast-paced, yet meaty read. Barbara Gordon is as likeable as ever, younger than when we last met, and not as well-resourced. Like Clark Kent over in Action Comics #1 she can’t afford a great apartment, but like him, she’s happy to make do. What’s important is fighting the good fight, and she’s delighted to be back in the fray after her enforced break
But she’s not ready, she leapt back onto Gotham’s rooftops too soon – physically, Batgirl’s not bad, mentally, there are issues. She lost her spine literally, and here loses it metaphorically. It’ll be interesting to see how she works things out as the series progresses.
Gail Simone’s script is typically well-balanced – dark in places, but with enough lightness to leaven the reading experience. The new villain – apparently an avenging flasher – is interesting, tough enough to prove a challenge to Batgirl but not super enough to belong in some other book. A couple of new characters are introduced in roommate Alysia and Det Mel McKenna, and both women benefit from great designs from penciller Ardian Cyaf and inker Vicente Cifuentes; they look strong, intelligent, capable of many moods.
Jim Gordon’s in here too, looking younger and more ginger than ever before. That’ll take some getting used to, but it’s always good to see Barbara and Jim interacting. The fight sequences are nicely choreographed by Simone and her artistic partners, refreshingly believable for a Gotham-set book. And there’s room for humour, including one great moment involving the Bat-Cycle.
My only niggle is that while a ‘miracle’ that Barbara ‘can’t believe’ happened is teased, we don’t get the extra panel or two telling us what that was. Maybe I sound like the little kid who demands all his presents on Christmas Eve, but really, I just want the revelation out there, so we can move on.
A nice touch, mind, is that Barbara still has the wheelchair lift in her van – handy way to move the Bat-Cycle, or a hint that she can’t believe the mystery cure will stick?
Adam Hughes supplies a lovely cover, but let’s cut down on the realism just a tad – those stippled gloves make it look as if she’s off to tackle a criminally large pile of dishes.!
This is a solidly entertaining start to the next phase of Barbara Gordon’s rollercoaster life; under Simone, Cyaf and co, she’s in good hands.