Sunday, July 31, 2016

Batgirl #1 = A Review

In need of a vacation from her day job and a new direction as Batgirl, Barbara Gordon has traveled to Asia. It is here at a hostel that she runs into an old friend named Kai, whose life took a decidedly different path from Barbara's. And when he's attacked by a clown-faced school-girl assassin, it's clear that he needs Batgirl's help.

I want to enjoy Batgirl #1 more than I did. It isn't a bad book but it just didn't click with me. Hope Larson writes Barbara Gordon well, presenting Batgirl as the smart, capable heroine I love. I am somewhat troubled at the amount of coincidence this opening issue requires (what are the odds of Barbara's hostel roommate halfway around the world being an old friend?) and the fact that Barbara's opening story arc here is now focused on saving a potential love interest. I admit I may be reading too much into the relationship between Kai and Barbara, but there's enough similar to the good girl comics of old in that regard to have me nervous.

I'm similarly conflicted about the artwork. Rafael Albuquerque is a fine artist and I've enjoyed his work on American Vampire, yet I have to wonder if he's the right artist for Batgirl. There's something about Albuquerque's gritty aesthetic that just seems at odds with Larson's story and a few panels where it seems like he's trying to imitate Babs Tarr. The neon-fueled coloring of Dave McCaig doesn't help matters, leaving the finished artwork looking faded and muted.

I'll continue to give Batgirl a hook me. The work here is high quality and I like what I see enough to see if it all clicks into place for me later. If nothing else, it's an interesting thing to see creators I respect craft something I'm not quite sure works for me which I still recognize as technically proficient.

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