Review: Batgirl Annual #1

[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]

Writers: Hope Larson & Vita Ayala
Artists: Inaki Miranda, Eva De La Cruz, Eleonora Carlini & Mat Lopes

Summary
In the first story, written by Hope Larson, Batgirl and Supergirl team up to free a Cadmus prisoner. In the second story, written by Vita Ayala, Barbara tries to find time to spend with Alysia while also trying to defeat Riot Black.

Positives
The cover by Bengal is cool. It sets up the fun tone of the first story really well and looks cool.

The first story features pencils and inks by Inaki Miranda and colors by Eva De La Cruz. And the art is gorgeous. This is a team I’ve loved since New 52 Catwoman so I was thrilled to see their names on this. The colors give a wonderful tone and atmosphere and the faces are very expressive and well detailed. It’s a joy to just look at the pages. Also, Supergirl wearing a cowboy hat is really cute.

The second story features art by Eleonora Carlini with colors by Mat Lopes; it’s great as well. It is more in line with the recent style of Batgirl which makes sense since they’re the current art team on the book. It’s unique with a lot of fun backgrounds and I love how Carlini draws the characters. Babs is very expressive as are all of the characters. It feels similar to an anime.

Larson gets Supergirl. Immediately, she just has the voice down. There’s also instant chemistry between Babs and Kara which is an insane amount of fun. The story could have been them just talking and it would have been great.

I like that the story by Ayala is about prioritization. We all have jobs and responsibilities that require attention. But we also have friends and family that need attention not just for them but for ourselves. It can be a tough thing finding time for everything and everyone; I think that Babs has to deal with that. She has a life outside of being Batgirl and that’s somewhat rare for superheroes.

Negatives
There’s a moment in Larson’s story in which Kara and Babs start talking in “text speech” but it doesn’t really make sense. For example, Kara says “Wh4t3v3r.” What confuses me is what is she actually saying out loud? Is she just saying the word? Or is she spelling it out with the numbers? Babs is doing it too and I don’t get it.

I like the idea of a story being set between the New 52 and Rebirth. This takes place before Batgirl #1. My problem is I don’t think the conclusion of Ayala’s story makes sense in context. I like that Babs resolves to spend more time with Alysia but she doesn’t. Barbara leaves and goes to Asia. And even when she comes back, she kind of gets absorbed in the son of Penguin stuff.

Verdict
This is a great issue. I wish we didn’t save this format for just the annuals; I like issues that have more than one story. It’s a lot of fun and shows a variety of different talent. I also like that we get essentially a stand-alone story with Ayala’s section. That’s also too uncommon in modern comics. The writing in both stories is top notch with wonderful dialogue and interesting plots. I want to see a Larson Supergirl story now really badly and there should clearly be a Batgirl/Supergirl team up series because this was inspired. The art from both teams is fantastic with different and unique styles that both work really well.

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Sean Blumenshine

I am currently a senior at Wichita State University studying communications. I started reading comics in 2013 because of how much I loved Man of Steel and season one of Arrow. My favorite hero is the Green Arrow and my favorite villain is the Joker.