Hello and welcome to the World of Bats, the Batman Book Club!
This week we’re continuing to explore books during the beginning of the New 52 era of DC for it’s ten year anniversary by exploring what might have been one of it’s most controversial decisions of Barbara Gordon returning as Batgirl. For this, we will be looking at the first six issues of Batgirl, written by Gail Simone and drawn by Adrian Syaf.
This will be the current reading from 2021-09-11T05:00:00Z → 2021-09-17T05:00:00Z, but if you’re busy with an experimental surgery in southern Africa, you can always come back and share your thoughts then!
Really looking forward to discussing this one with you guys.
This series was the best of the Bat-Books in the New 52 launch. In fact, it’s not even close. Gail Simone’s characterization of Barbara is the best version since the Bronze Age. She makes the re-Batgirl-ing of Babs work superbly well, which naturally raises the question of why this wasn’t done twenty years earlier. (After all, Bruce recovered from having his back broken in record time, right?) At the same time, Barbara’s lingering emotional trauma keeps her recovery from feeling too easy. (Contrast Knightquest: The Search.)
I think one of the biggest payoffs of Batgirl (2011) is that Gail Simone was dropping breadcrumbs in each issue. Ranging from her brother to the big bad. I will admit, I didn’t want to see Babs as Batgirl as there was an Oracle shaped hole in my heart but Gail Simone definitely eased me into the world of a physically healed Barbara Gordon. The biggest downfall of this series, and this is more of a complaint of modern comics, is the crossover books didn’t fit the story that was being told every month. To get back to the positive, issue 1 of this series has one of the most iconic covers in the past 10 years.
To paraphrase a character I didn’t like from a movie that I don’t like (minus a few scenes):
“Now this is Batgirl!”
Oh boy, do I love Simone’s run.
Barbara was my Batgirl growing up, via back issues and trades, so while I love Oracle as much as anyone could, I was very excited to see Babs come back under the cowl in 2011, especially knowing that Gail Simone would be handling her adventures.
I’ll partially agree with @AlexanderKnox in that Batgirl was the best Bat-book of Wave 1 of The New 52 as far as the titles that starred allies of Batman were concerned. No others even came close in my four eyes, and this is coming from a big fan of Nightwing (not only in general, but of his own New 52 solo gig as well).
One aspect of these initial issues that I was also a great fan of was Adam Hughes’ covers. Even if it was just cover art, it was still great to once more be getting something from Hughes on a consistent basis.
I’m also a big fan of The Mirror. It was fun to see Babs take on a new enemy once she was under the cowl again, as opposed to retreading the past and having her antagonist be…Killer Moth, maybe? That could have worked, but having her take on a fresh opponent really lifted up the whole series and made it of the now, as opposed to a modern rehash of the past.
I completely agree. Adam Hughes’ cover was not only a nifty attention-grabber, generally speaking, but it also heralded the return of the original identity of one of the greatest heroines in pop culture history in grand fashion.
I’d say that his cover for Batgirl #1easily ranks up there with Jim Lee’s cover for Justice League #1 and Chiang’s cover for Wonder Woman #1 in terms of iconic, definitive, New 52 iconography.
All in all, very solid issues from a very solid period of a title starring a very solid character whose adventures were under the guiding hand of a very solid writer.
I don’t have much to say that hasn’t already been said; this was a really good reboot of a character. Simone did a great job mixing humor seriousness and bringing a unique voice to Batgirl. Mirror was also a great adversary and a nice fit thematically.
Seriously, while I think I would put a few others over this one, I would say that Gail’s run is pretty high on the list of New 52 Bat titles. Definite top 3-5 contender.
Agreed – I’m not sure if there were any creators working at DC at the time who could do it as well. From what Gail has said, she honestly felt the same way, which is why she agreed to do it in the first place.
I think when it’s considered in terms of how the universe has worked, I agree that it probably should have happened sooner, but I can also kind of see why they waited, because Oracle did fill a unique slot at the time, and having a paraplegic character as a hero is a good move in diversity. Plus…Bruce Wayne just can’t be left in a wheelchair forever, he has to come back because DC literally lives or dies on Batman.
I definitely feel like this is what made the transition work – it’s not like she was magically healed and everything was honkey-dory again. We see how she got back on her feet and how much work she had to do, and more importantly, the emotional scars of how her injury happened is always present.
She wasn’t a stand in for people who have become wheelchair-bound anymore, but she became a figure for people who had suffered through traumatic assault.
I can see that – while the Bat books wasn’t quite as bad as the Super-books got after a while, the were definitely some tie-ins that interrupted things. I think Gail by and large did a decent job with adapting to them – I think her tie-in to Death of the Family was one of the strongest of them all.
That’s kind of how I was too – like, there were some Oracle stories I liked well enough, but if I was perfectly honest, when I first thought of Barbara Gordon, I didn’t think of Oracle, I thought of Batgirl. Specifically, I thought of Batgirl from B:TAS and Gotham Knights.
Oh yeah, Adam Hughes covers were amazing. Love his work. It’s just as shame he doesn’t do interiors – I mean, I get why, covers are probably easier and more lucrative for him, but still, the All-Star Wonder Woman that could have been…!
Definitely – it’s funny, it’s not until I read all these books in this era again that I realized just how many new enemies that they were trying to make during this time. Of course, not all of them stuck, in fact, most of them really didn’t, but I appreciate the attempt to bring something new to the table.
Definitely – I remember some bits both in these issues and in subsequent that felt a little off in it’s attempt at humor, but I think they mostly worked. I mean, Gail was at the time one of the funniest voices in the industry, it only stood to reason.
Thank you all for sharing your thoughts on this series!
I’ll always have a soft spot for her original suit (especially it’s brief glimpse in the Untold Legend of The Batman mini, which was my first comic exposure to Barbara), but I’ll absolutely agree that Babs’ New 52 suit is far and away the absolute best look of hers in the modern era.
Her armored suit is definitely up there in terms of favorites, but I think her current look in Fear State might be up there. It feels like a more streamlined and, for lack of a better term, grown-up version of her Burnside outfit.