I'm a 35 year old Canadian living in Ontario. I read comics, I love to draw and I collect comic art. I also teach karate, play hockey, and am a dad to 3 girls! My comic book passion lies with Batman and his pals with Nightwing taking a very close #2 favourite position. I began collecting comic art in 2013 and I have several commissions done by Ken Lashley and an amazing Francis Manapul Batman. As well I have sold a few of my own creations!
Back in the summer of 2014 Batgirl got a huge make-over. This re-imagining took shape not only with a new art style and costume, but also with a new writer for her book. DC kept the issue numbers running, but as it has come out now in hardcover they started over with a new Volume #1.
What has transpired is that we have a clean break form Gail Simone‘s run as the main writer on the book; having written everything from issues 0-34. While I loved the first few volumes of Gail’s run, Volume #5 was pretty out there and honestly not that much fun for me to read, so I’m very happy to see this change! Brendan Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr have a whole new take on Batgirl and honestly, I think it’s far superior.
Old Batgirl – New Batgirl
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We jump in just as Barbra has moved to the hippest area of Gotham, Burnside. In the first issue we learn that she’s returning to school and living with a new roommate, Frankie. Dinah Lance (Black Canary) swings by and tells Barbra that her place has burned down destroying all of Babs’ Batgirl gear and Barbra herself is to blame for the incident. As well, later in the issue Barbra has her computer stolen during a party and has lost her thesis work which was the lynch pin for her returning to Grad school.
With all of her gear burned, we get a perfect explanation for the new outfit that is considerably much lower tech than her old suit, and her need to find a gadget making partner.
Meanwhile, Frankie works at a company called Hooq (which seems to be much like Tinder) and it’s through this app that the main villain for the arc is plotting their scheme to discredit Barbra and put herself in her place.
The art style in the book is like nothing I’ve seen before in a superhero comic and kind of draws on a manga-esqe feel with emotions sometimes showing as little emojis on the panels. Babs Tarr has done a fantastic job of breathing new life into the character and making her relateable.
Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher do great work writing as well. They’ve written a clean break from past Batgirl issues in the New 52 without needing to have a reboot, they explain the actual mechanism for Barabra being able to walk again which was shied away from in the previous 34 issues, and they even use that same explanation to fuel their storyline!
Also, highlighted is the social media awareness that is pretty much ignored in a lot of current comics, but with this book and the reboot of the Teen Titans, it has become a lot more apparent. In the first arc of Batgirl social media plays a huge part with things like Hooq, Pixtagraph and text blocks that depict what music characters are listening to or who they are getting calls and notifications from.
All in all I really feel like this is just what the Batgirl book needed. While some of the stories that Gail Simone wrote in the first five volumes were fantastic, the latter ones of the run kind of fizzled out for me. I also really prefer it when titles keep the same team of writers and artists together for a long stretch of time. I think this is the first Batgirl volume to have a consistent team since Volume #2.
This reinvention of Batgirl is fun, fresh, visually interesting and well written!
Have you been reading Batgirl since the start of the New 52?
What did you think of this change?
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Chris Barnes is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @Chrispy47