Written by Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart
Art by Babs Tarr
Published by DC Comics
Landing on shelves this Wednesday, Batgirl #35 feels likes something from a different time and place. It goes against the grain compared to DC Comics’ regular output, a laid back slice of life superhero tale where our hero barely puts on a mask. Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart take up the reins on this title after a three year run by fan-favorite Gail Simone, making this a big pair of shoes to fill..
The issue opens up with Barbara Gordon getting all her earthly possessions into a moving van as she heads off to a new place to live and a new status quo. Shortly, after a full night of partying, Barbara finds herself stuck in a real crisis as her laptop (and all her research and Batgirl data on it) stolen which leads her on the road to find thieves who have been making off with the computers and smartphones in her new neighborhood. It’s a solid done-in-one issue with promising lead to feed into next month.
The highlight of this issue is by far is the art by Babs Tarr whose style can go from tranquil to energetic in a beat. Most of the comic is laid back as Barbara settles into her new life. She’s not facing off against the latest escapee of Arkham Asylum as she settles in, but the bigger battles will likely come in due time. The issue also shines in how it shows Barbara Gordon using her detective skills as a civilian, something often missed in the Batman titles. This is a book that is very reader friendly as it requires little to no extra knowledge of the previous run on Batgirl. While it runs that risk at first by introducing Black Canary in a supporting role as a pseudo tie-in of Birds of Prey, it’s explained very well with only a few lines of dialogue required. This is also one of the most diverse mainstream books coming out from the Big Two as it sports a large supporting cast of numerous colors, genders, and sexualities and presents them in a way that doesn’t feel cynically demanded by a PR department.
However that is not to say this issue is perfect. Writers Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart are new and not as well tuned for writing. It’s clear they are aiming for something akin to Marvel’s Ms. Marvel series and possibly overdoing it. There’s a lot of excessive use of social networking and blogging that comes off heavy handed, like the only things college students do are throw parties, update their statuses, hook up, and drink Starbucks. It pulls one out of the experience, and only gets worse at the very end with the villain being an obnoxious DJ who speaks in hashtags. Here’s hoping he never returns.
Despite its flaws, Batgirl #35 is a very promising issue for a new direction by DC to broaden their audience and tone of their universe. With the arrival of this and Gotham Academy, the DC Universe just got a little brighter.