Batman Beyond Unlimited #18 Review: The Batgirl We Need

by Kristina
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New Batgirl featured in the Batman Beyond universe. Click the jump to read the review.

While everyone is still mourning the loss of Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain as the Batgirls of the DC Universe, there might be a sign of hope for a new Batgirl in the Batman and DC Universe. In Batman Beyond #27, we get a futuristic version of the character who is realistic and grounded in the Beyond universe. We couldn’t have a better writer who is introducing this Batgirl than Scott Peterson who wrote the fan favorite Batgirl in the early 2000’s starring Cassandra Cain. Peterson knows how to write simple interesting mystery stories that appeal to everyone. He is partnered with Annie Wu, who has a modern edgy style that screams excitement on the pages. Both Peterson and Wu are made for this introduction of a new Batgirl of the Beyond universe.

The Positives: From the beginning, you’re placed into the middle of a gang brawl. Everything is all over the Batman Beyond Unlimited 018-04place, but Peterson makes sure to stick a character that we all know and recognize. It’s Commissioner Barbara Gordon, who springs into action to kick ass and break up the brawl. Peterson writes Barbara with strong intentions of breaking up the brawl by giving her an air of confidence that is torn down as she underestimates herself against the thugs. In a way, it shows how much Barbara has retained a lot of her training under Batman’s regime prior to Batman Beyond. However, her age gets the better of Barbara suggesting that her mind is strong but her body is weak. She is no longer the youthful Batgirl, and the cowl for the next Batgirl needs to be passed on. Of course, this new Batgirl is not one for chummy celebrations. She has already taken up the cowl and is already making good use of it.

The story is very simple and straightforward since we’re being introduced to the new character, it is best not to complicate things at first. The best way to approach this story is to be open to the relationship between Comm. Barbara Gordon and Batgirl, since this issue does revolve around them. It is mostly focused on Barbara figuring out the corruption in Neo-Gotham and the sole person behind it. Peterson adds a little bit of nostalgic references for readers who know the Batman universe, if you’re very knowledgeable of the content then you won’t have a problem pointing them out. Peterson does pay a lot of tribute to show Barbara being Batgirl in this issue and it does bring a feeling of warmth to know that Barbara has grown up.

Batman Beyond Unlimited 018-06This Batgirl is rather dark, but probably not as dark as Cassandra Cain. However, this version is much grounded. She feels real with her homemade costume and multi-purpose escrima sticks that indicate the character is good at hand-to-hand combat as seen in this issue. She does not fight with wild moves, nor has precise strikes to suggest that she is a professional. This Batgirl fights like she is a gymnastic brawler, every move is meant to advance her to the next attack.  According to Barbara, she felt confident about not having to look over her shoulder to defend herself. She knew that Batgirl would have her back. The relationship between Comm. Barbara Gordon and Batgirl are left at an understanding that both will play a part in Neo-Gotham, which compliments the relationship between Comm. James Gordon and Batman prior to the Beyond universe. It was a nice touch to the end of Batman Beyond Unlimited #18.

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The most incredible part about this issue is that the Batman universe has become a bit more diverse with the addition of Luke Fox as Batwing and now a new Batgirl. The issue of diversity has always been the case since the launch of The New 52. It is good to see that DC Comics is trying to break more ground in this department with not only race/nationality/ethnicities, but also gender and sexuality. The two individuals who can bring this kind of issue to the spotlight and make it entertaining are Scott Peterson and Annie Wu.

Annie Wu who is a modern edgy artist who has illustrated in Hawkeye, has done coloring on The Venture Bros, and is the most fan favorite artist. The artist brings a fresh new take in Batman Beyond for Batgirl. The costume is superb and should be attributed to both Peterson and Wu, but Wu brought about the grounded appeal of not only Batgirl, but also Neo-Gotham as well. Even though, Batgirl’s costume is not as futuristic as Terry McGinnis’ (Batman). The costume pays a lot of tribute to the theatrical features of what made Bruce Wayne’s Batman such as the long cape and the open mouthed cowl. The elongated shoulders on this Batgirl’s costume may not seem appealing, but the shoulders are meant to give the character a menacing appearance. It may not look that way right now, but imagine if her shadow was looming over unexpected thugs. It’s basically how Batman was able to terrify thugs into submission.

The whole package is solid in this issue and it is a must pick up!

Batman Beyond Unlimited 018-25The Negative: Though the story is very focused on building the relationship between Comm. Barbara Gordon and Batgirl, the story should not have to suffer. Yes, it is simple and the antagonist has a one dimensional goal that screams classic villain in a mystery genre. There should have been more to the story that felt a bit more complex. Annie Wu does well with the action sequences, but there are some awkward moves that seem disproportional to the characters’ bodies. This is chiefly found with the female characters in this issue, and at times it is forgivable. However, if you really enjoy your action in comics, you will find yourself saying, “Well…this seems off.”

There is more than just an effort made by Scott Peterson and Annie Wu in Batman Beyond Unlimited #18 to introduce Batgirl. It is downright, another pioneer move to bring a new Batgirl who is diverse and will excite more demographic readers to the Batman books and to DC Comics. The move is accepted and appreciated at the most high regard from adult readers and from children who are racially and ethnically different.

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