Friday, September 9, 2011

Batgirl #1

Continuing our look at the "New DC"...

After reading the first issue of Batgirl, I have to admit that I had the sinking feeling that DC has blown it again.

As I've said before, I thought DC missed a great chance to start fresh after the original Crisis on Infinite Earths back in the '80s - and despite all the promises of a fresh start, it looks like the "New 52" are anything but.

Oh, the characters have new costumes (Justice League) and their histories have been tweaked (Action Comics) - but apparently their backstories and the events of recent years are still (more or less) the same.

Thus, Batgirl is once again Barbara Gordon (just as when she first appeared in the 1960s) - but DC didn't reset continuity to a point before she was shot and crippled by the Joker, which led to her becoming the wheelchair-bound Oracle.

Instead, she has somehow miraculously recovered from her injury, and is back to being an acrobatic crimefighter.

Part of me is glad, because in my mind, Batgirl should be Barbara (just as the Flash should be Barry Allen and Green Lantern should be Hal Jordan. What can I say, I'm a child of the '60s).

I didn't like the story that put her in the chair, but having her magically recover is right up there with having Mephisto wipe out your marriage or waking up from a dream to find your long-dead husband taking a shower.

Now perhaps the story that explains her recovery will satisfy my misgivings. Gail Simone is a gifted writer, but it's going to take some spectacular efforts to make this right.

The story in this issue doesn't offer much hope - Batgirl confronts a gang who are terrorizing a family during a home invasion, and then encounters a mystery man who is murdering various individuals for unknown reasons. It's not bad at all, but it all feels very - well, typical, when it should be something special.

Let me add that there's no problem with the art - Adrian Syaf and Vincente Cifuentes turn in some powerful work here - lively, attractive and loaded with energy.

But so far, the story is a great disappointment - and so is the "New DC." They had a chance to start fresh with a new beginning for each character, with a clean slate and no baggage to worry about - but instead, they seem to have most of their comics still loaded down with decades of continuity, wrapped in a new look and a "first issue."

It's still early, but it's starting to look like another missed opportunity.

Grade: C+



Brett White said...

I agree with a lot of what you said. I think it's odd that they aren't starting totally fresh. I'm not giving up on Batgirl yet, though. I thought that Stormwatch and Swamp Thing were great (even if Stormwatch also had a mess of continuity in it).

Chuck said...

Brett, thanks for your comments - I'm not giving up on Batgirl yet, either. I have a review of Swamp Thing coming up in a couple of days, but I passed on Stormwatch. I've heard good things about it and the new War comic, so maybe I'll track those down next Wednesday.

Dwayne said...

This is the saddest thing about the reboot... Oracle was one of the most original and refreshing takes on a super hero. I shall miss her greatly.

Chuck said...

Dwayne, a recent article indicated that DC plans to add several new disabled heroes, so hopefully they"ll include a new Oracle. But I did like Barbara in that role. But then, I prefer her as Batgirl. I'm so fickle!

Dwayne said...

But the idea that at one time she was leaping from rooftops and having that taken away from her is tragic. That tragedy was at the heart of who Oracle was. DC took a great character and made her better. Now they just undid it and she's one of many, many, many Bat-characters.

Brian said...

I didn't like how dark and violent this title was. I want to read about a fun, hopeful Batgirl. Does every corner of the DCU have to be so grim and depressing?

(Though thankfully, issue #1 of the new OMAC comic WAS surprisingly fun. I hope you review that one soon!)

I won't be picking up Batgirl issue #2. This was a big disappointment.

Eyz said...

Yeah, it's all just shiny new logos slapped on covers, new modern costumes and #1 on top of the books...but it all looks like more of another "ONE YEAR LATER" than anything else :P

Chuck said...

Eyz, I agree - I didn't care for the whole "One Year Later" thing and this has that same feel...