‘Batgirl’ #36 tackles otaku culture

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Batgirl #36

Written by Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart

Art by Babs Tarr

Published by DC Comics

 

I am really digging the new direction Batgirl has taken. It reminds me of the days when Yvonne Craig took up the cowl. Fun. Fresh. Hip. Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarr brought back the familiar traits of the Batgirl people admired with a lot less grit and blood while still maintaining the capability of kicking major bad guy butt. I am glad Barbara decided to ditch the lace around all her gadgets though. Lace trimmings are so last century.

In Batgirl #36, we find that Barbara’s luck certainly hasn’t improved since the last issue. Black Canary is still fuming about the loss of her house, the key piece of data to Barbara’s thesis is still lost in cyber-space, and there is still some creep out there pretending to be Batgirl.

Just like last issue, Barbara is faced with a mystery that can be solved by the final page while at the same time advancing the larger story arc. Someone has broken into the robotics lab and stolen two prototype motorcycles, and when students are attacked, Batgirl swings into action. The villains of the month turn out to be two otaku girls who emulate characters from Barbara’s favorite childhood anime, Atomina (Science Battle Girl Nucela). Hired by “Batgirl,” it’s up to Barbara to stop the thieves, return the motorcycles, and prevent a murder.

As Grant Raycroft mentioned in his review of Batgirl #35, the writing is meant to capture a larger audience. The use of anime inspired villains targets the kid in all of us. Is it cheesy? Sure. Immature? Yes. Are the writers trying too hard? Possibly.

In many ways Fletcher and Stewart’s writing mirrors popular culture, so we only have ourselves to blame. Thanks to the lack of employment opportunities, more and more adults are exhibiting symptoms of the Peter Pan syndrome and refusing to take on any real responsibility until their thirties.The result is a Batgirl story-line that is more relaxed than it’s predecessors. Although we’ve lost some of the realism, we haven’t lost what made Barbara Gordon the one and only Batgirl for many DC fans over the years.

Barbara isn’t just another pretty face. She is fast on her feet and has a brilliant mind. She created her predictive algorithm while she was recovering from an injury (a reference to her paralytic state via Joker a few years prior), and solves an equation that the boys in the robotics department were struggling with in a matter of seconds.

While I do enjoy the current flow Fletcher and Stewart have created, there is always the danger of simply coasting from story to story. Here’s hoping that Batgirl will continue to pick up speed and resist such a temptation.

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