Writers: Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher
Artist: Babs Tarr
Issue #35 of Batgirl has come out after weeks of anticipation and discussion. This is the first issue for a new creative team taking over after a very strong run from writer Gail Simone and artist Ardian Syaf.
Batgirl was one of the most controversial announcements of DC’s new 52 relaunch, eliminating fan favorite characters like Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown who had previously been in the Batgirl role and returning Barbara Gordon, who had spent several years in a wheelchair taking on the role of Oracle, to the cape and cowl. However, Simone’s smart writing and the great art from artists like Syaf helped dissuade fan’s fears.
Now, it is time for the new creative team to take over with a fairly radical new look and new direction for the book. Barbara Gordon has moved out of Gotham City and into the neighboring borough of Burnside (Gotham’s answer to Brooklyn.) Due to an accident occurring in the story, she loses her costume and has to make a new one on the fly.
The costume design received a lot of buzz prior to the book’s release, because it’s actually approaching practical, borderline realistic. Gone are the spandex tights and comic book armor pieces, replaced by a more functional jacket and pants with Doc Marten style boots. It’s a refreshing change in superhero comics, not every hero has to wear skin tight spandex or molded leather.
The writing is a different style than before, the focus is less on a mad super villain wanting to take over the city/world/whatever is more focused on a Perez Hilton style gossip blogger who wants to expose everyone’s dirty little secrets on his website. There is also a much stronger social media aspect to the story: instagram, facebook, twitter, hashtags and more find their way into the story.
I’m never quite sure how I feel about social media making it’s way into our fiction. It feels like the story is immediately dated to the 18 month period where this app or this website was popular. The world of social media moves so much faster than anything else, the cutting edge is perpetually changing. This book feels very relevant to life in 2014, hopefully as life changes the book can continue to change with it and not get stuck referencing the equivalent of MySpace.
Barbara Gordon feels younger than she did in the previous run, but editors and writers have sworn that she was supposed to be in her early 20’s the whole time. At one point a character asks her if she’s 14. She is still fully capable of holding her own, and the character doesn’t feel diminished or weakened. If anything they reference more of her abilities in this book. A major plot point hinges on her perfect memory and recall. Her tech knowledge and fighting abilities are also a major aspect to the story.
This is a really solid book and a great new style for the book and the character. Any significant creator change is going to be jarring at first, but I feel the transition will be an easy one.