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Batgirl #1 Review

Batgirl Issue 1 CoverEnter: Sailor Clown!

Creative Staff:
Story: Hope Larson
Art: Rafael Albuquerque
Colors: Dave McCaig
Letterer: Deron Bennett

What They Say:
The Batgirl you know and love is going global with Eisner Award-winning and New York Times best-selling writer Hope Larson (A Wrinkle in Time, Goldie Vance) and all-star artist Rafael Albuquerque (AMERICAN VAMPIRE). In order to up her game, Babs travels to Japan on a quest to train with the most elite modern combat masters of the East. But when a chance meeting with an old friend puts a target on her back, Batgirl may need to use her new skills to solve a deadly mystery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
After the fun of Batgirl & The Birds of Prey where we got things kind of formalized as to what’s in continuity with Barbara Gordon, I was definitely interested in checking out her solo series to see what they’d do there. I haven’t read anything from Hope Larson before so this is my first experience with her work, but I’ve enjoyed a lot of Rafael Albuquerque’s artwork over the last few years and am excited to see what he can do with something that’s a bit brighter and lighter than the usual darker works he does. The two definitely seem to click creatively and Dave McCaig gives it a kind of zip and pop that works really well without coming across as being gaudy or overdone.

What we get here works its own storyline that builds off of the other book as we get Barbara heading overseas to get away from Gotham and everything else for a while in order to expand and grow. It’s a standard “backpacking across Europe” kind of idea that can work well. Her first stop, amusingly enough, is in Okinawa where she’s looking to find out more about a 1940’s superhero named Fruit Bat that’s still alive. Noting that most superheroes tend to drop off in their 40’s for a range of reasons, finding out the reason for her longevity at well over a hundred makes for a good idea. Barbara takes the simple approach to doing all of this, living at a hostel and enjoying all the local flavor, though they play the odds in a way that leaves you knowing there’s more to events than you might think at first when she ends up in the same hostel room as her childhood friend Kai that she hasn’t seen in years.

The book has some fun with all of this as the two reconnect and you can tell he’s keen on her after all this time – who wouldn’t be? – but she’s just enjoying the locale more than anything else while excited to track down the woman who used to be Fruit Bat. This takes us to the action component when a young woman ends up going after the elderly woman – who is still immensely capable to the point of really turning Barbara’s admiration up a lot – and leads to the comical Sailor Clown comment that at least draws on how Barbara’s youth may have been through the usual time adjustments. What we get from all of this is that there’s a teacher out there that can help take her to the next level and we’ve got the heroes journey of discovery and training ahead, albeit one where she knows Kai is far more than he seems – and Kai proves to not be an idiot in figuring out that she’s Batgirl since she costumed up here. Seriously, what’re the odds?

In Summary:
While Batgirl doesn’t open as strong as I had hoped it would, there’s a lot to like here in taking her out of the city and familiar environments and breathing a new element into her storyline. I’ve not read anything about the character in years so I know nothing about Kai and what he represents or what she’s been up to with her clean energy company that she’s got, something that isn’t dealt with all that much for new readers unfortunately. The opening arc of this monthly series is off to a solid start and has me hopeful with where it can go, a good part of that is thanks to Albuquerque’s artwork as it’s solid throughout and has the right kind of fun with the layouts and angles to keep it moving and feeling energetic, even if a touch light and simple with some of the backgrounds.

Grade: B+

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: DC Comics via ComiXology
Release Date: July 27th, 2016
MSRP: $2.99

Chris has been writing about anime, manga, movies and comics for well on twenty years now. He began AnimeOnDVD.com back in 1998 and has covered nearly every anime release that’s come out in the US ever since.

He likes to write a lot, as you can see.

Chris Beveridge – who has written posts on The Fandom Post.


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