Wednesday, October 8, 2014

SPOILERS: Batgirl #35

As someone who tried for years to genuinely enjoy the New 52 Batgirl only to finally eventually drop it (like a week or two before this was announced, but nevertheless, It was dropped!) let me just take the time to say... Yes.

The Spoilers:

We all know the basic premise by now, Babs is moving out of Gotham proper to the young hip borough of Burnside because she's going back to school and... I don't know, hashtags? She's got a new roommate/old friend Frankie, and Frankie's got a party to welcome her. Next morning, babs wakes up hungover to find the guy she was making out with looking for his phone, then when she's out to get coffee, she stops a thief from jacking someone's laptop. 

When she gets back to the apartment, she finds Dinah aka Black Canary waiting for her, despite whatever terrible nonsense that happened in Birds of Prey that made them not want to talk to each other. Turns out Dinah's place burnt down, and despite not being on speaking terms, Babs was storing all her shit there. Babs looks for her laptop to see if she's got security footage from her van of what started her fire, but her computer is missing too. 

After remembering what she could of the party the night before, all signs point to some rando at the party as being the prime suspect in the missing tech. Babs hops on the off-brand so DC doesn't get sued Tinder, and ends up setting a meet up with the guy, and while she's waiting for the meet up, makes her new costume. Long story short, Babs doesn't show up, but Batgirl does, and the tech thieves are moving all this stuff to a guy named Riot Black, whose an overall douchebag that runs a site where he posts people's private photos and info.

Black is holding a party for his site, Babs crashes it. Turns out Black is basically Cybernetic Riff Raff and has got an eye that scans information and uploads it into his computer brain, something like that. Fight happens, Babs tricks him into erasing his info if she gives him a photo her without the cowl, his juiciest scoop yet. Turns out the photo is of her with a  QR code in front of her face that uploads some malware into his brain...

Unfortunately for Babs, she finds out her computer was wiped (had all her class info on it), double unfortunate for Babs, it seems that Black screwing with her laptop set off incendiary devices in her van, which burned down Dinah's place, and TRIPLE unfortunate for Babs is that she gets a text to her personal phone from someone who knows she's Batgirl, claiming she can't protect Burnside.


The Review:

You know what Batgirl had been missing from #1-34? Fun. It's pointless to discuss why that was, because it's the past, the important thing is that this new direction for the series is really fun, right off the bat. Gone is the oppressive tone of grim this, bodily dismemberment that, and in steps a tone of way more youthful, enjoyable energy. Honestly, the story itself is probably the lowest entry on the list of talking points about this issue, given the sweeping changes, but I will say that the tech aspect of it, mixed with the writers' use of Babs' intelligence and memory recall, was right up the alley of what a fun Babs Batgirl would be in my mind. The way she beats Riot Black? That was really clever and entertaining... But I really want to talk about everything else!

Going into this, a lot like Gotham Academy, I was excited for the change, just because it was needed, but had reservations that it may not be for me, which if that was the case, oh well. My main concern was that it would lean a little too heavily into the depiction of what "youth culture" is thought to be today, similar to my concerns of the new Teen Titans being too "#HASHTAG SELFIE." And while there are elements of hipster or trendy or whatever you want to call it, I didn't feel like I was being beaten over the head with it. I'm 25, I'm of the age group that this book is portraying, I'm in no way part of the "scene" Burnside is portraying, but as someone who went to a college with a big liberal arts focus, I get it. I know the crazy obnoxious side of what's being shown, and can tell you, this isn't it. 

I can talk about the setting all I want, but the important thing is how Babs is portrayed within it. There was... I don't want to say "a lot" but nevertheless, there was some bullshit about the preview with some people saying Babs was being portrayed as a dumb promiscuous party girl, or some hot steamy shit like that. But you know what this book relies on a lot? The portrayal of her photographic memory which those people bitching often cited as missing or probably going to be erased in favor for getting drunk... or what the fuck ever, best not to read that nonsense, because it's just that, it's nonsense. The writers have been clear that this is still the Babs we all know, she's just in a different element, and they deliver on that only a page or two past that preview. I'll admit, it's weird to see Babs at a party, or hung over, or whatever, but it's only weird because it's weird for superhero books in general. If we're to pick up any random book DC is publishing starring a hero, at the core, they're all the same. The main character is being a hero and they don't have a life. They may have a secret identity, but any scene we get with Clark Kent, he's always doing something or thinking something related to Superman. We usually never get to see the moments in a character's life which actually include their life. After a while, super heroes can get real boring because there's no variation in what we see of them... This issue on the other hand takes the time to actually show Barbara's life outside of the cowl, and I mean, really outside of the cowl, not just civilian Barbara thinking about Batgirl stuff. It's sort of like Hawkeye, we're seeing the hero when they're not being a hero, and like normal regular people, they aren't these pristine flawless gods comics make them out to be... They're normal. They make mistakes, they drink too much the night before, and they throw up in a garbage can... That doesn't take away from anything that makes them good or a hero, and to think so is extremely close minded.

Jesus christ I'm spending a lot of time talking about this book... I haven't eaten anything today, fffffuuuuucccck.

MOVING ON. Let's talk about the art! Babs Tarr and Cameron Stewart are magic. If you were unaware of the situation, Babs Tarr has never drawn a comic before. She was an artist on the internet just drawing rad shit, and when Stewart was given the book, and then he contacted her about it. Given the "never drawn a comic before" thing, Stewart provided the sequential layouts for Tarr, and she drew over them, and that's how magic happens apparently. I'm going to take the time to remind you of Batman and Robin #16, from the pre-New 52 volume. Go look that one up. Look at how much shit Cameron Stewart can pack into one page, specifically that Damian fight scene. Damn, son. Now imagine pages packed with that much detail, only drawn in a style reminiscent of a more animated looking Becky Cloonan, and that's what you get with this book. The pages are dense with panels, but never feel cluttered, and Tarr's style matches the tone perfectly. The final element is Maris Wicks' colors. I don't think I've read a book Wicks has colored before, but I guess they're a colorist I'm going to have to remember now. I'm pretty sure Wicks used every color known to man in this issue, with each scene using a variety of pallets, the club scenes being a stand out in particular. I thought the original plan was to have Jordie Bellaire color this book, who I'm a fan of, so I'll admit I was bummed to see her name missing from the preview... but yeah, I'm less bummed now... Not at all bummed, actually. Maris Wicks is going to do just fine. Visually, Batgirl has gone from pretty bland to a complete stand-out amongst DC's line in just one issue.

Wow... Longest review I've written... Ever. I'm just going to cut to the chase to wrap this one up:

Yep, it's a good's.


OH YEAH! If you scan the QR code on Babs' face, it takes you to a page at DC's website which has a couple of binary lines that translate to:


Where am I?

Dad are you there?


  1. I haven't had this much fun reading a Batgirl book since Batgirl Year One, and Stephanie Brown Batgirl. I'm glad Babs is back to being the fun, witty, and adventurous batgirl from before. I just hope they don't cut her off too much from the rest of the bat family.

    1. Yeah, her being cut off is what concerns me a bit. I don't mind the new villains, but isolating Babs herself from everyone else would sorta suck.

  2. What I loved is how the writers took a simple story structure of comics and wrapped around all of these little details, with the help of the artists, to create this different and great comic.

  3. Oh wow, I didn't know the story behind the artwork. That's pretty cool.