Overview: In Batgirls #1, the trio of Batgirls are back in action and are already finding themselves surrounded by trouble, against Barbara’s best efforts!
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): Batgirls #1 begins in an undisclosed location, within a dark room where computer monitors cover the walls, Seer grins up at a screen displaying pictures of three young women. The faces of Barbara Gordon, Stephanie Brown, and Cassandra Cain are frozen on the screen. All this time, Seer has remained in the shadows, a little obscure and invisible. But soon, that will change.
Over in the Hill, recently named ‘The Jewel of Gotham” by the city’s Realtor Association…although ‘Ghoul of Gotham’ might be more accurate, Barbara reminds Stephanie to keep her excitement under wraps. The top floor of the building that they’re staring up at is all theirs, but they need to keep a low profile. They climb the flights of stairs leading to the top level amid Stephanie’s protest that she and Cass are the very souls of discretion, and Barbara rebuttals by reminding her of several past events that prove that is very much not the case.
As they tour their new place, Stephanie states that their room is practically perfect because it has bunk beds. After making several trips to bring up the rest of their stuff, Stephanie and Barbara focus on making breakfast while Cass unloads the rest.
Only Cass doesn’t return with their last few bags but with bruises; she had been intercepted by some street thugs demanding she hand over their bags as ‘move-in-tax’. Knowing that she had to keep a low profile, Cass handed over their things and didn’t fight back. (Well, that’s the response she tells Barbara, at any rate. The reality was the exact opposite).
Later that night, Stephanie realizes that Cass hadn’t been quite truthful and mentions it to her. Cass insists that nobody saw — she put a bag over her head, which is solid enough concealment for Stephanie.
The next morning, all three of the girls gather together for their morning meeting. To kick it off, Barbara hands them walkie-talkies and secured burner phones (for emergencies only), items that are low-tech enough that Seer won’t be able to access them. Barbara will need the other girls to set up her encrypted grid while she goes out to buy food and leads the girls outside to the garage where two motorcycles are parked. Leaving the girls to go do their work, Barbara heads off to the grocery store.
After exchanging a glance, both girls agree that the bikes look terrible, and Cass has a different solution. Not only had she thoroughly kicked the mugger’s butts the previous night, but had also taken the keys to their van.
A cutscene later, Stephanie and Cassandra are blasting through the streets in their stolen punk-esque car (which they name Bondo), fully decked out in their Batgirl costumes. Half a gallon and free-climbing-a-skyscraper later, the girls have placed all but one of Barbara’s devices around the city, one step closer to rebuilding the Oracle network. With their assignment done, the girls should head back to their new flat but get sidetracked when they catch sight of what looks like a street fight, thugs against honest-looking construction workers. Upon closer inspection, the workmen look less honest and more like in a deep zombie-like trance.
A dozen well-placed kicks later, the thugs are taken care of and the construction workers wander off as they come out of their strange trance. The Batgirls creep back home as quietly as possible, but their efforts are unnecessary, as Barbara clicks the light on right as they slip into their room.
She’s not mad; she’s tired and disappointed. It’s more dangerous out there for them now than ever, and all of them need to be careful. Getting into street fights doesn’t help with that.
Despite promising to go to bed and do better in the future, Stephanie and Cassandra’s words go out the window after they spy their grumpy downstairs neighbor dragging a body-sized bag outside and into the dumpster. They slip out in costume, go to investigate, and don’t react in time before two smoke grenades roll right up to their boots.
As the smoke clears, Stephanie radios Barbara, sheepishly speaking into the walkie-talkie that the Batgirls might have…gotten in over their heads.
Before them stands The Saints of the Magistrate: Tarsus, Assisi, Valentine, and Fido-5.
Analysis: Batgirls #1 kicks off with a bang, full of vibrant colors, loud energy, and fantastic character dynamics. To gain some time to get their feet back under them because of the hacker Seer, the Batgirls have moved to the other side of town where Barbara can reconstruct her Oracle grid and keep an eye on her two young charges. The story is narrated from Stephanie’s perspective, and her personality and inner character thoughts give the issue a fabulous vibe. The dynamic between each girl is wonderfully done, and I absolutely love Cass and Stephanie’s chaotic energy mixed with Barbara’s tired, parental mood.
Written by creative team Michael Conrad, Becky Cloonan and brought to life by Jorge Corona and Sarah Stern, this team brings the story to life. Corona’s somewhat exaggerated and cartoonish style gives the whole story a very distinctive look and feel and gives each character a fantastic, personal look and style that makes them all feel very individual and unique. Against the dark backdrop of Gotham, Stern’s art explodes across the pages with vibrant pops of colors and contrasting hues.
There are bits and pieces of layers of the plot speckled throughout the story in Batgirls #1; Seer’s musings at the beginning, the trance-induced construction workers, and the arrival of the Saints. Overall, the story takes its time establishing its characters and tone first, dipping into the plot slowly but surely.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with a copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue digitally on Comixology through Amazon or a physical copy of the title through Things From Another World.