Honestly, I haven't been this excited about Batgirl since my first glimpse of Yvonne Craig! Over the past month or so, DC has teased us with several preview covers of the mysterious new Batgirl. Her enhanced feminine appearance as compared to Cassie sparked intense speculation over who was actually behind the cowl. Did Barbara regain the use of her legs? Did Cassie finally grow up physically? Is it Steph, is it Mistfit? The different look of the multiple teasers led us to even think that there may be multiple Batgirls.
Well the wait is finally over; Batgirl #1 hit the stands this week. While we were somewhat led to believe that the mystery of Batgirl's identity would be played out over several issues, Dustin broke the news that in fact Stephanie Brown is revealed to be the new Batgirl. And if you listen to TBU Comic Podcast or participate in the Forums, you know that Steph was the odds on favorite from the beginning. So now that the mystery has been revealed, was the book any good? Well, it wasn't perfect that's for certain, but overall I enjoyed it.
Bryan Miller focuses his story equally on Steph and Barbara, smartly exploring how fate and circumstance have played a pivotal role in each of their present lives. Barbara has become increasingly bitter and void of purpose in her life. She is depressingly resigned to the fact that she will be in a wheelchair forever. Stephanie is addicted to the thrill of crime fighting and wearing the Bat, but she is struggling with the promise she made to herself and her Mother that she would live the life of a normal teenager. Miller brings the two opposites together full circle in what may turn out to be a new exciting mentor/apprentice partnership.
An element of Miller’s writing that may turn off some is his characterization of Stephanie. He writes her very much like Buffy the Vampire Slayer; a teenage girl struggling with everyday issues that all girls her age go through, but at that same time leading an extraordinary nightlife. We see Steph at home engaging in Mother/daughter talk, stressing over not doing her homework, and at school daydreaming in class. This may be a little “girly” for many comic fans, but it worked for me, at least in this first issue. Greg Rucka kind of wrote a similar treatment of Kate Kane in Detective but she is older, so it wasn’t as “Twilight” if you know what I mean. I was recently talking with a female friend about what kind of comics attract young women readers. I think this is book is exactly geared towards that demographic. I do like the way Miller portrays her as Batgirl. She is eager and full of moxie, but doesn’t have the skill of Cassie. I think this lends well to the future relationship between Steph and Barbara. I think Babs will see a lot of her young self in Steph, and will hopefully help her come to terms with her inability to walk.
Cassie’s treatment was disappointing. The nonchalant fashion in which she abandons the cape and cowl was a slap in the face to all the fans who love her. Hopefully her decision and future will be explored in this or another title with the depth her character deserves. Also, the transition between her and Steph was pretty weak. But I suspect this will be dealt with in upcoming issues.
Lee Garbett does a decent job with art. I was hoping for a more provocative Batgirl, especially after the cover teasers, but at least his action sequences were exciting. What I did like a lot was how he drew Batman. It reminded me somewhat of the later years of the animated series. Although the scene of Batman and Robin surveying Batgirl, and Damian thinking it is Cassie and questioning how she could be such a lethal assassin, but Dick knows it isn’t Cassie, was written very awkwardly…..much like this sentence!
I think this book has some potential. It isn’t as adult as I had hoped, but it has the potential to reach an untapped audience of future Bat-fans…….and who knows, maybe some new fans of The Batman Universe as well. Now that can’t be a bad thing!
Reviewed by tiggerbrown