[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Writer: Hope Larson
Artists: Rafael Albuquerque & Dave McCaig
Barbara heads to Singapore in order to improve her martial arts abilities and to figure out what is happening to her childhood friend Kai.
I love the cover by Rafael Albuquerque. The yellow background is a nice and unique touch that works well. I also like that Batgirl’s opponent is in silhouette. The poses suggest a chase which is also fitting.
The interior art is by Albuquerque with colors by Dave McCaig and it is excellent. I enjoy the way that Albuquerque draws Babs’ facial expressions. Her reactions throughout the story are funny and add a lot of heart to the piece. I also like the little freckles. I have never noticed freckles on her face before this run.
I also love the way Singapore looks in this. I always enjoy artists’ take on real cities. There is a particular panel in which Babs and Kai are looking over the city landscape that is quite beautiful. McCaig’s colors assist a lot with this. The backgrounds especially stand out but without distracting from the story. The colors helped pull me into the story and enhance the tone.
In my opinion, writer Hope Larson shines the most in Babs’ narration. There is a self-reflective quality to Babs in this that humanizes her. This can be obnoxious because it sometimes feels like the writer is analyzing their own material and spoon feeding the themes to the audience. However, Larson is able to do it naturally while still getting those ideas across. Barbara’s narration is exactly the kind of inner thoughts we all have. People tend to exaggerate and over complicate things too much in their own brain. The key word in this issue is heart. Babs is easy to relate to on a basic human level and not because her life sucks like Peter Parker is typically written. She acts, thinks and talks the way a normal person would. And it is fun to see someone process these incredible and sometimes ridiculous situations in that way. I just love Larson’s characterization of Batgirl.
I love the idea of exploring different cultures in Asia. Diversity is an important aspect of entertainment that seems to getting better but diversity should not be limited to just characters. The idea of taking these stories outside of America is exciting to me. An opportunity to teach Americans, especially the young kids that I hope are reading this series, not just about different countries and cities but the cultures within them. There is an exploration aspect of this new run that is fun.
I like the idea of Babs trying to find herself through martial arts. While she is obviously skilled, there is always room for improvement for everyone. I like how willing she is to try new things without fear. And martial arts can therapeutic. It’s not about becoming a better fighter so that she can kick someone’s ass. She’s simply trying to make sense of herself.
This is a wonderful issue. Babs is as lovable as ever if not more so, the story is interesting and unique and the art and colors are spectacular. I highly recommend this issue especially for kids. If you have kids that have an interest in comics or you want to introduce them, this series is a wonderful place to start. It’s colorful, fun and might be a little educational for kids.