Writer: Hope Larson
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
Colors: Dave McCaig
Letters: Deron Bennett
Comics have an understandable need to reinvent themselves whenever a creative team changes. Understandably, the “rebirthed” Batgirl title sees a thematic shift from the Fletcher/Stewart/Tarr run from the “young female in the city” motif. The advantage is that this allows the story to start fresh; the disadvantage is that it effectively cuts ties with whatever came before, unless and until Hope Larson decides to bring some of those elements back.
So here’s Hope Larson’s new Batgirl #1, which, mind you, is not a “Rebirth” issue. (DC really needed a more consistent plan on which books get a “Rebirth” intro and which ones don’t.) It sees Barbara Gordon becoming the international traveler, apparently in an effort to find herself, or something. The motives behind taking Babs on a worldwide trip aren’t clear yet, except in this lone issue where she’s gone to Japan to interview her 1930s counterpart who’s still alive at 104 years old.
The issue is a little light on action, mostly revolving around Babs doing young adult stuff with a friend from Gotham that she just happens to bump into. Still, it’s not completely devoid of superheroics, as the story climaxes in Babs discovering one of those international conspiracies that always happens when a vigilante goes overseas. Keeping it spoiler-free, let’s just say that the issue climaxes in one of those moments that’s implausible in real life and yet completely acceptable in a girl-power superhero comic.
Overall, the book is OK–not a failure, but so far not tremendously phenomenal either. Larson seems to “get” Babs, but jettisoning the Fletcher/Stewart setting means that the book has to start over in terms of developing her larger backdrop. (Babs’ friend Kai is OK, but again, underdeveloped at this early stage.) Rafael Albuquerque’s art is also acceptable, though it’s not the same as Babs Tarr’s style that worked well for the prior run. Time will tell if this book grows on us.
Batgirl is acceptable for hardcore Batgirl fans and readers looking for a clean jumping-on point. We’ll just have to wait and see if the book can move past “acceptable” in the coming months.
Rating: Two and a half out of five Oracles.