Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Batgirl #35 - A Review

Rudyard Kipling once said that "There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays. And every single one of them is right!" I first heard this quote in an article Dennis O'Neil had written about Batman and his belief that Kipling's saying could be applied to writing Batman. Be it the space-fairing scientist of the 1950s, the campy Batman of the 1960's TV Series or the grim urban legend of the 1990s, all Batmen are equally legitimate takes on the character, according to O'Neil.

I thought of this quote reading Batgirl #35 and how - on the surface - the Barbara Gordon we see in this book is quite different from the Barbara Gordon we've seen written by Gail Simone over the past few years. It's hard to picture Simone's workaholic bookworm getting drunk at a party and making out with some random guy. It's also hard to believe that someone as security-conscious as Babs would move into an apartment with two virtual strangers while trying to maintain a secret identity, even if she is keeping her Batgirl gear off-site.

Once a reader gets past those changes, they will find that this Barbara Gordon is still the same smart. competent Batgirl we know and love. Indeed, some of the changes are an improvement as we see Barbara taking advantage of her perfect memory several times through the issue in ways unlike anything this series have ever dared attempt.  We even get a scene where she, to borrow a phrase from Sherlock, goes into her mind-palace to bring about total recall of a crime scene.  We also get an interesting new enemy - a hacker/DJ named Riot Black, who steals personal information and pictures to publicly shame his victims at his shows.

The artwork by Babs Tarr is as different from anything we've seen on any DC Comics book in recent memory as the script for this issue is compared to previous Batgirl comics.  Tarr's style looks more appropriate to a slice-of-life web-comic than a superheroine title.  Given that more of the comic's focus is on Barbara Gordon's day-to-day problems than it is her time in the cowl, that's probably fitting.  Still, the action - once it comes - is well depicted and Tarr's character designs are unique and vivid.

Bottom Line: If you haven't been reading Batgirl, now is a good time to start.  If you have been reading Batgirl, there is no reason to stop.  It's different but it isn't bad.  Far from it.

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