Babs Gordon gets comfortable in her new Keds in Batgirl #36, written by Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart, with art by Babs Tarr, colors by Maris Wicks and lettering by Jared K. Fletcher. How’s the fit feel in her second month?
This book has truly done a 180-degree turn from what it was before. It’s blessed with beautiful art, a fresh youthful and urban feel and overall is a take on Batgirl that actually feels young and hip, something Gail struggled with. It features a diverse new supporting cast, the colors are bright and trendy, it’s a current comic dream. But I’m not really on board.
The art is trendy and gorgeous. I do, admittedly, love it. The colors are bright and punchy. The characters, being introduced at a whiplash pace, makes the book a bit crowded but it’s very clear they’re trying hard to be inclusive with diversity. It’s welcomed. I liked the flashback to Babs’ childhood relating to the villain and the cartoon show she was a fan of. Touches like that do make Batgirl more well-rounded; Gail Simone was given such a short leash it was impossible to really get a feel for how Babs was. This is way younger, and it’s almost too young, which plays into some of my negative thoughts about the issue and the shift in general.
In the grand scheme of things; in this narrative, in this continuity, the struggles Batgirl is going through and her tone are not believable with the narratives already going on in Gotham. Gordon is in deep heat, Batgirl was a wanted criminal, supposedly Eternal is beginning or going on in this continuity too, is it not? The doings over in Batman & Robin? In all of these Barbara is needed as a professional and she has been. This new plainclothes costume and MO is unbelievable and such a departure from where she was.
In any other alternate universe I’d have said yes to Batgirl moving to a trendy little nook of Gotham like Burnside. Her need to go back to basics, so much so that she even needs a mental vision of her father to wipe out enemies, speaks of such a lesser, greener Batgirl than even the one we saw before under Gail’s pen. Besides, her move just comes off as irresponsible given existing story arcs. I just don’t think normal life in any capacity fits the Barbara Gordon that DC has been giving us. Id like it to. But that’s not working. Not with the stakes that she was up against which have all been skirted away.
Do the problems in Gotham just not happen over in Burnside? Is Barbara really that broke and that proud to not get even the slightest bit of help from Bruce (granted he may be somewhat broke too now but Barbara is smart! Where are her secret Batgirl funds? Where are her technology back-ups?)? Would Barbara Gordon really be that unprepared? Really?
This in general continues the fault with Barbara they’ve had since they put her back in the Batgirl go-go boots. How can Barbara, the supposed genius, a girl that may still have it in her to be an Oracle-grade bad-ass, still be this bare bones in the same continuity where heroes younger than her and of her same age (Dick) have maintained or surpassed her in competency. I understand she was shot. But she can still grow. DC has effectively stunted the growth of Batgirl as a character because despite the “growth” of moving on to a new place and getting involved into college, Babs really isn’t growing with this make-under. I may sound a bit sour, and you may be like “Oh, you’d rather have Gail Simone’s angstfest or would prefer Stephanie Brown as Batgirl?” and the answer there is no too. I mean, technically, this reads and feels like a book Stephanie could have headlined. It is odd that they ditched a Batgirl that acted like this and shoehorned another backwards into the role, and then three years later return to a similar tone to the young Batgirl they ditched.
I just want consistency. She can be lighter, she can be allowed to lighten up. She deserves it. But where are the smarts? Why is she 21? Above all, she has been through a lot. She should still be angry. I don’t like DC using The Killing Joke to define her past, keeping it in canon, but neglecting to show how she got better. No flashbacks to the struggle. The surgeries. The physical therapy. Help from other superheroes. The PTSD of that event ruled her underneath Gail’s pen, but not once did she ever show her overcoming the physical side in order to be mobile again. Here it’s just as glossed over if not more so. No one has shown just how strong Barbara is. This irritates me. Besides, someone who has gone through that would never wear what’s she’s wearing to fight crime.
Again, if this was an alternate universe where she wasn’t shot and this was a sequel to a Year One situation, a Year Two or Three, I’d all be for it. If this was the rebooted Batgirl from the get go, I’d be more or less okay. I just don’t think this return to a Barbara this green and small time was worth sacrificing Oracle, Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown’s history. As a comic however? It’s glorious. But it won’t get a fifth star because of the plot holes and lack of continuity. I love the cast, and I love the art. I just don’t see this as fitting in the regular continuity. It would be killer (and it is killer) otherwise. It is too much of an anomaly. And it’s a shame (because it is…good).