Tag Archive: Batgirl


Review by C.J. Bunce

If one word sums up Barbara Gordon and her new Batgirl persona, it is feisty.  She gets knocked down.  She gets right back up.  She makes mistakes.  She tries to recover from her mistakes—both the long-term lesson learning variety and the instant kind–a bad kick or punch here or there.  And she will keep after the bad guy, here a grim reaper type baddie called the Mirror, who carries a list of the soon-to-be-dead around as a checklist.  With a quick moving story line her decisions are split-second choices.  She has no choice, she must be focused.  Having the use of her legs return only in the past several months, all indications are that this heroine is engaging in the secret crime fighting gig too soon.  And that is the current theme of her character’s growth.

Issue #2 of the DC Comics New 52 Batgirl is peppered with seemingly irrelevant details that actually help build our understanding of Batgirl’s Gotham City, like the fact there is only one cemetery left in town that hasn’t been demolished and replaced with parking lots and malls.  We see real-life reflected here, or at least the over-development, economic strife and questionable priorities that make Gotham the worst of what is real in any society.  We also see a microcosm of the individual, living the single life, trying to get through the mundane tasks of daily life.  Barbara Gordon is a poster girl for the individual in the big world.  Like all of us, she is forging ahead.

Writer Gail Simone continues to deliver the satisfying and snappy, Buffy-esque dialogue, that reminds us we’re talking about Bat-girl here, like the serious but silly “But I am done being afraid.  And I can’t die tonight.  I’ve got a lunch date!”

What I can’t get over, and Batgirl is today’s pick for best written series, is the first person narrative we get here, in the same style as Batman from Jeph Loeb in Batman: Hush.  In this way, we’re in her head as she smartly comes off as the almost-Batman, which is sort of what a junior Bat-hero should be striving for, right?

Batgirl’s positive outlook is counter-balanced with a well-constructed bad guy.  Unlike some other villains in the New 52, the character called the Mirror is smartly crafted with an engaging back story.  Family lost in a car wreck, he snaps and becomes this Final Destination inspired, twisted rationalizer of who lives and who dies.

Batgirl Issue #2 delivered on its potential.

But that’s not quite so with Issue #3, which had a lot to live up to considering the work on Issues #1 and #2.  For part one, Barbara Gordon becomes Sandra Bullock in Speed, in a psycho-orchestrated opportunity to save a train from a bomb.  Good stuff?  Check. For part two, she has some awkward catching up to do with dad, Commissioner Gordon.  Good stuff?  Check.  For part three, she goes to pick up her Batcycle, which had been impounded in Issue #1.  There she runs into Dick Grayson-formerly-known-as-Robin-who-then-became-Nightwing-then-Batman-and-now-he’s-Nightwing-again.  And an old, teen romance is rekindled, veiled as an effort by the Bat-team to get Barbara to dial back on the dangerous derring-do.  Gordon gives in a bit, but ultimately recoils into that comic book cliché of the superhero—“I just want to be alone.”

It’s not a bad follow-up to Issues #1 and 2, but the obligatory romance issue just seems a bit too soon for this new series.  Maybe it is intended to reflect the chaos of real life, where the individual is burdened with too much to do in too little time.  In that vein, Batgirl is very modern.  The writers must have intended this guest appearance of Nightwing to conjure up the most successful of the original Birds of Prey series issue, when Grayson returned to take Barbara on a date.  Definitely a bit nostalgic so no harm there.  But we’re eager to get back to the smart character building we saw in Issues #1 and #2, next month.

Another thing worthy of mention is Ardian Syaf’s illustrations in Issues #2 and #3.  Batgirl is both agile and tough balanced with naivete and some real street smarts, and we know this from how she is drawn on every panel.  I am also becoming a believer in the Adam Hughes school of cover art.  Issue 3 is one of the best of all the New 52 covers so far.

Review by C.J. Bunce

Batwoman is a bit of an enigma. To one extent she is historically just another Batman in women’s garb.  If you really wanted to bring Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl up to date in a new universe, the logical way to do it would be to drop the dated “girl” reference and finally give the adult Gordon her due as the “woman” superhero.  By way of background, Batwoman was originally brought into the DC universe to show fans that Batman was straight, several decades ago.  With Crisis on Infinite Earths in the 1980s, she was virtually extinguished from the DC timeline.  She was only brought back a few years ago as part of the DC series 52.  To diversify readership DC made her of Jewish background and a lesbian.  So she is unique in the DC universe for several reasons, but her alter ego as Kate Kane was so interesting and integral to the storyline of 52 that DC left readers begging for more.

The new Batwoman #1 (written and drawn by J.H. Williams III, with co-writing credits to W. Haden Blackman) is so good, as was Batgirl #1, you’ll easily push any reservations you may have aside and embrace this fully realized, modern superhero.

Batwoman has a lot going for it.

A driven, smart, savvy, sexy heroine?


Stunning visuals, including two-page spreads with a floating trio of story panels that carries you across the pages, and a truly unique storytelling style that you won’t see in other books?


A great costume, highlighted by Dave Stewart’s eye-popping choice of colors?  And a redheaded superhero that wears a red-haired wig?


Romance–Batwoman’s love life–her relationships–are one focus of her ongoing story.


Women in all the leading roles, from the superhero, to the sidekick, to the police detective who is after Batwoman.  And we get one brief scene with Commissioner James Gordon for good measure.


I had flipped through recent graphic novel pages of J.H. Williams’s work on Batwoman and was bothered by the strange, unique art style.  I couldn’t place it but it was almost like someone wasn’t using enough black ink on the artist renderings.  For whatever reason it just didn’t work for me.  The new Batwoman doesn’t have that.  The style is not only unique it is stylish, from the covers to the flashbacks in black and white to the fight scenes and bridges between the main plot points.

For those new to the character, Kate Kane has a few pages that give us some back story–to bring us up to speed with her world from the 52 series to the present.  Kane has past relationships and current ones, both of the friend and romance varieties.  In the first issue she is after a criminal element that is taking the children of Gotham.

As Batwoman she appears as an equal to Batman.  She is no longer a secondary character relegated to fill-in roles in crossover series.  By making her not just a woman version of Batman, it seems to have opened up storylines and possibilities for this character.  Along with Batgirl this is at the top of the new DC series, for both its design, story and colors, to its interesting storyline.

Review by C.J. Bunce

Three years ago Barbara Gordon was shot and sustained spinal damage by the Joker.  The crime was detailed in Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s controversial Batman: The Killing Joke, the first slick prestige-formatted comic book and one of the best looking comic books of all time.  Since then Barbara Gordon has been in a wheelchair. During the past three years Barbara had dropped her Batgirl costume for a computer and became the brains behind the Birds of Prey as the character Oracle, along with Dinah Lance/Black Canary, and Helena Bertinelli/Huntress.  She’s been living with her father, Commissioner Gordon, all the while.  And a miracle happens–she can walk again.  Now she wants to “spread her wings” and move out on her own.  That is where we meet Batgirl in the new DC Comics “New 52” Batgirl series.

It is only fitting that Gail Simone, who in recent years has spent more time creating Barbara Gordon’s voice than anyone, scripted the first new universe Batgirl story.  She understands the character and is my argument for why writers should stick with characters longer than they seem to be allowed at DC and Marvel.  Especially when the writer gets it right.  If you invest a lot of time in a character, you get in his/her skin and begin to think the character’s thoughts.  You get that feeling with Batgirl.

Obviously the “three years” in the wheelchair as Oracle is in DC universe time, since Batman: The Killing Joke was published 23 years ago, back in 1988.

The new Barbara is funny and endearing.  She shares her inner voice with us to contrast with her Batgirl exterior.  We don’t know what will come of it, but she finds a new roommate and a place she can afford to rent.  Her inner voice is determined, and she forces herself to be confident, even though we sense a lot of doubt in her about her abilities.  She’s young, but not too young.  She is a straight arrow, not gritty and also thankfully not vapid.  In the first story we see her crash a home crime, similar to what Gordon faced with the Joker.  She hasn’t been in the superhero business physically for years now.  She is successful, but she’s nervous.  Simone shares that the shooting will never leave this character, although we get the vibe that this series will be about moving on.  The art is clean, Batgirl looks good in her costume and the panels and design are creative.  Nice work all around by artists Ardian Syaf and Vincente Cifuentes.

Fans have asked numerous questions: Why pull her from the wheelchair?  As a model for disabled people, what is DC saying about people with disabilities–to be heroes do you need to be able to walk?  All these are fair questions and Simone has attempted to answer them this summer.  Ultimately this is a character and maybe DC thought every piece of her story as Oracle had been written.  And where else but comic books can a character live a dream that may not be able to be fulfilled with a person in an actual, similar circumstance?  It is difficult to say anyone but Simone could have handled this transition with the same level of grace and alacrity.  But it shows that no fan is free from the change in this new set of series.  The risk with so much change at once is simply human nature–humans don’t like change.  So everywhere you look in the new titles, something will be off-putting to everyone at some point.  What Issue #1 of Batgirl does successfully is wade right through those questions and deliver a new, fresh story that has promise.

The new Batgirl could be the lead in Veronica Mars. She could be a character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Or the writers will create someone who makes her own mark.  Not the Batgirl from the TV show, or the Batgirl from the Batman and Robin movie, but someone with the same energy and optimism.

First off she will need to encounter a new villain called the Mirror, who she meets at the end of Issue #1.  And her first big encounter is brief–and a failure.  Luckily for us readers, Batgirl Issue #1 is not.  Looking forward to Issue #2 next month!

DC Comics announced this past week plans to re-launch its entire comics line—52 comic book series to begin again at issue #1 this September.  Never before has a comics publisher taken such a big risk all at one time.  And DC promises major changes, releasing a few hints so far along with the creative line-ups for the new titles.  Some titles will continue, others won’t.  And expect some shake-ups in DC Universe continuity.

Some notable surprises:

  • Apparently Batgirl Barbara Gordon will be taken back to her pre-Batman: The Killing Joke attack by the Joker so she is no longer confined to her wheel chair as previously detailed in the Birds of Prey series via her other alter ego, The Oracle.
  • Look for digital and print double packaging as well as some staggered release pricing for the separate purchase of the print and digital editions.  DC is clearly trying to catch up with the mainstream digital media revolution.
  • Most of the key titles appear to be continuing, with the notable omission of the Superman/Batman title.

If you’re not keeping track, hopefully this line-up of books and talent will get you up to speed, all information direct from DC:

  1. Justice League #1.  DC co-publisher Jim Lee will be drawing this series, to be written by Geoff Johns who did a nice job on the All-Star Superman series.  The cover has been released and looks like the usual suspects Superman, Batman (Bruce Wayne, not Dick Grayson), Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg (?).  Personally without the next tier of characters like Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Hawkman, I hope this one works as I have viewed the JLA as the lynchpin of the DC universe.  The last reboot of the JLA team didn’t seem to work as well as the classic team.
  2. Action Comics #1.  You’d think they’d ride this longest running DC series to the magic 1000 mark, but not now.  The great news is Rags Morales will be penciling this series, written by Grant Morrison.  I loved Rags’ work on Identity Crisis.
  3. Superman #1.  Classic favorite artist George Perez of Crisis on Infinite Earths will be writing this series, with artwork by Jesus Merino.  I’ve always wondered why we need two Superman books, but there’s clearly enough talent to go around on DC’s #1 superhero.
  4. Supergirl #1.  Writers Michael Green and Mike Johnson and artist Mahmud Asrir will be giving us a new look at Supergirl.  To me, the ultimate Supergirl was penciled by the late great Michael Turner in the Superman/Batman series.  I’ll look forward to this team’s take on the ethereal cousin from Krypton.
  5. Superboy #1.  Newcomer Scott Lobdell will be writing this title with shared drawing efforts by R.B. Silva and Rob Lean.  I’m surprised this title made the final cut, but there must be some diehard fans of this character out there.
  6. Detective Comics #1.  Writer/artist Tony Daniel will be helming this classic DC title beginning with (yet another) Jack the Ripper-type Batman storyline.  I was always a fan of Mike Mignola’s work on Gotham by Gaslight so yet another take on this villain type could be interesting.
  7. Batman #1.  Scott Snyder will write the series featuring the return of Bruce Wayne as the Dark Knight with art by newcomer Greg Capullo.
  8. The Dark Knight #1.  David Finch will be drawing and writing this title sure to feature a dark villain-filled Arkham Asylum story.
  9. Batman and Robin #1.  Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason will helm this story with Bruce Wayne and son Damian Wayne as Robin.  How many Robins are we up to now anyway?
  10. Nightwing #1.  Kyle Higgins will be writing the return of Dick Grayson as Nightwing along with Eddy Barrows’ art.
  11. Red Hood and the Outlaws #1.  Scott Lobdell will be writing this title with art by Kenneth Rocafort, focusing on the old universe’s fan-killed Robin, Jason Todd.  I’m curious what they will be doing to continuity with this title.
  12. Batwing #1.  Former Green Arrow writer Judd Winick and artist Ben Oliver will be creating this title with the first black character to wear the Batman cowl.
  13. Birds of Prey #1.  It looks from the cover like this title will feature Poison Ivy and Black Canary, written by Duane Swierczynski and illustrated by Jesus Saiz.
  14. Catwoman #1.  I like the cover on this one.  Judd Winick will be adding to his Batwing duties by writing this storyline along with Guillem March pencils.
  15. Batgirl #1.  The return of the original Barbara Gordon will be written by Gail Simone with art duties shared by Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes.  I see this as a stand-out book in the new DC line.                            
  16. Batwoman #1.  I’m also anxious to see where they will take the cutting edge Batwoman in the new universe.  J.H. Williams III, Haden Blackman and Amy Reeder will be teaming up on this title.
  17. Green Lantern #1.  With the new summer’s expected blockbuster title coming soon DC’s website is all green with Hal Jordan.  The striking cover features a bloodied hand—look for a darker tale this time around for Hal.  Geoff Johns will write this title with art by Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy.
  18. Green Lantern Corps #1.  This title will feature our other favorite Lanterns Guy Gardner and John Stewart and will be written by Peter J. Tomasi with art by Fernando Pasarin and Scott Hanna.
  19. Green Lantern:  The New Guardians #1.  My least favorite Lantern Kyle Rayner will be the focus of this comic, written by Tony Bedard and art by Tyler Kirkham and Batt.
  20. Red Lanterns #1.  Another Lantern title?  Really?  And no Zatanna title?  This book will be written by Peter Milligan with art and cover by Ed Benes and Rob Hunter. 
  21. Wonder Woman #1.  Brian Azzarello will be writing this new story with the great artistic talent of Cliff Chiang (Green Arrow/Black Canary) drawing the beautiful Amazon warrior.  With a new TV series in the works Wonder Woman should be as popular as ever.
  22. Aquaman #1.  Geoff Johns will be busy this year with yet another title, this time with artist Ivan Reis.  Thankfully it doesn’t look like they changed much visibly with Aquaman based on the preview of the cover os the first issue.
  23. Flash #1.  Artist and freshman writer Francis Manapul will be taking us through Barry Allen’s new story with art by Brian Buccellato.
  24. Fury of Firestorm #1.  I always liked Firestorm storylines in the old JLA series so I am glad to see this title.  Ethan Van Sciver and Gail Simone will share writing duties on this title with art by Yildiray Cinar.     
  25. Savage Hawkman #1.  “Savage” huh?  Tony Daniel will write this book with art by Philip Tan.  Hmm…No mention of a certain female hawk friend…
  26. Green Arrow #1.  My favorite character will be back again in his own title (phew!).  This title will be in good hands with a couple GA veterans.  Dan Jurgens will draw the Emerald Archer in his orphaned billionaire playboy incarnation with story by JT Krul.  This will be my personal must-read of the new 52.
  27. Captain Atom #1.  I am ecstatic to see Freddie Williams II in a new series of this powerful superhero.  Writing duties will go to JT Krul.  Another must-read series I will be looking forward to this Fall.
  28. Justice League International #1.  For this title Dan Jurgens will serve as writer with art by Aaron Lopresti.  It looks like yet another Batman story as he leads this international crime fighting team.
  29. Mister Terrific #1.  Eric Wallace will write this new title with art by Roger Robinson.
  30. DC Universe Presents #1.  DC is reviving the old serial titles of its past with this new series to feature new characters in an ongoing storyline, beginning with a Deadman story written by Paul Jenkins and Bernard Chang.  I was always a fan of the original Brave and the Bold and hope some fresh blood can keep this type of series going.
  31. Suicide Squad #1.  Harley Quinn, Deadshot and King Shark will be featured in this new sure to be off-the-wall title, written by Adam Glass with art by Marco Rudy.
  32. Stormwatch #1.  Even if the Martian Manhunter doesn’t look like he will at last initially appear in the new JLA, he will be featured with Midnighter and Apollo in this title written by Paul Cornell and illustrated by Miguel Sepulveda.
  33. Blue Beetle #1.  The angst-ridden teen hero and DC answer to Spiderman will be written by Tony Bedard and illustrated by Ig Guara and Ruy Jose.
  34. Blackhawks #1.  This modern-day, mercenary team series will be written by Mike Costa and drawn by Ken Lashley.
  35. Men of War #1.  This one sounds fun.  The grandson of Sgt. Rock will be the focus of this story, written by Ivan Brandon with art by Tom Derenick.
  36. All-Star Western #1.  This title features Jonah Hex in Old West Gotham with the founding father Amadeus Arkham.  Story by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti with pencils by artist Moritat.
  37. Deathstroke #1.  Kyle Higgins will have writing duties on this new Deathstroke series with art by Art Thibert.
  38. Grifter #1.  Written by Nathan Edmondson with pencils by artists CAFU and BIT, this will be a story about a black ops grifter in what appears to be an X-Files type storyline.
  39. OMAC #1.  The OMAC series returns with story by Dc co-publisher Dan DiDio and art by Keith Giffen and Scott Koblish.
  40. Legion Lost #1.  This story of seven teen time travellers from the distant future will be written by the Action Comics team of writer Fabian Nicieza and illustrator Pete Woods.
  41. Legion of Superheroes #1.  Apparently a tie-in story to Legion Lost, this 31st century story will be created by writer Paul Levitz and illustrated by Francis Portela.
  42. Teen Titans #1.  Red Robin Tim Drake returns to lead the team including Wonder Girl and Kid Flash in the new series by Scott Lobdell and artists Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund.
  43. Static Shock #1.  This new teen hero story will be written by former Green Arrow artist Scott McDaniel and John Rozum, with McDaniel also illustrating along with Jonathan Glapion.
  44. Hawk and Dove #1.  This team returns in a new title written by Sterling Gates and illustrated by artist Rob Liefeld.
  45. Swamp Thing #1.  Coming off this Spring’s DC storyline, Swamp Thing gets his own title, written by Scott Snyder with art by Yannick Paquette.
  46. Justice League Dark #1.  Despite the title this new series looks intriguing with a team-up of John Constantine, Deadman, Shade the Changing Man and Madame Xanadu.  Written Peter Milligan and artist Mikel Janin.    
  47. Animal Man #1.  Animal Man returns in this new series written by Jeff Lemire with artists Travel Foreman and Dan Green.
  48. Demon Knights #1.  This blurb sounds promising:  “Set in the Middle Ages, the Demon leads an unlikely team to defend civilization and preserve the last vestiges of Camelot against the tide of history.”  Written by Paul Cornell with art by Diogenes Neves and Oclair Albert.
  49. Frankenstein, Agent of Shade #1.  Funny title!  this Seven Soldiers hero story will be written by Jeff Lemire with art by Alberto Ponticelli.
  50. Resurrection Man #1.  This is the story of a hero who wakes up with new powers each time he’s killed.  Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning with art by Fernando Dagnino.
  51. Vampire #1.  OK, enough vampires already!  Written by Josh Fialkov with art by Andrea Sorrentino.
  52. Voodoo #1.  This new title will be written by Ron Marz with art by Sami Basri.


Phew!  That’s a lot!  The problem I see with such a big release?  Most people won’t be buying all or even several of these titles, especially in this economy, and DC may find itself just competing against itself come September.  But hopefully the extra push will help keep some small business comic shop owners in business.  Writers and artists will have to bring their “A game” this Fall if each individually wants to make a name for himself/herself with this kind of competition for readers’ dollars.  It’s hard not to find at least a half a dozen titles to catch your eye from this release.  Definitely I see a few I will be picking up in September.

–C.J. Bunce