Batgirl is one of the titles I was most looking forward to and most dreading. I loved Oracle, she was one of my favorite characters in any comics universe. She was different, powerful, effective and had a rich history. I liked both of the Batgirls that had succeeded Barbara Gordon: Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown, there’s really no reason to go back to Barbara Gordon as Batgirl. She really shouldn’t be Batgirl any more either, but I suppose Batwoman is taken.
The one thing that made me look forward to the new series was the writer: Gail Simone. She’s fantastic and I figured if anyone can do this well, it would be her. She’s the best writer in comics right now, the drop-off in quality when she left Wonder Woman was astonishing.
I was expecting the reboot of Batgirl to be like all the others DC has been doing: start the character over completely and either tell the story from the beginning or up to a decade down the line from that new beginning. Batgirl is different, it seems to have left all her history in place and is taking place 3+ years after the Joker shot her. If they’re changing the Joker the way they seem to be in Detective, this could get weird very quickly. She’s regained her physical abilities, but is just starting over as Batgirl and isn’t quite up to her old self yet, if ever. She still seems to have great computer abilities, evidenced by her hacking her dad’s phone to get copies of all his texts, does this mean she was Oracle while in the wheelchair?
This raises so many questions. Was she Oracle? Were Cassandra and Stephanie Batgirl for awhile? Did Birds of Prey exist? There’s a great line about her time in the wheelchair. Her new roommate, who strangely isn’t given a name in the first issue despite being “onscreen” for 3 pages, sees the chair lift in Barbara’s van and Barbara thinks “She doesn’t know what it’s like, what the chair helps you do.” It certainly seems to be implying that she was Oracle, at least for awhile and I’m really hoping she was. Heck, I’m hoping the answers to all my above questions are “Yes” because there’s been some great world-building and character building with those characters and I’d hate to see the characters all thrown away.
The biggest thing that bothers me in this issue is the final scene. Batgirl is trying to stop a bad guy (The Mirror) from killing another bad guy, but The Mirror aims a gun at Batgirl the same way the Joker did and she freezes long enough for The Mirror to throw the other bad guy out the window to his death. The cop that’s been lying there, mostly incapacitated from the initial attack by The Mirror, picks up her gun, points it at Batgirl (though The Mirror is still clearly visible, standing behind Batgirl, also pointing a gun at her) and says “You let him kill that man. You watched him die. Murderer!”
This makes no sense. First of all, the actual murderer is still there, shouldn’t you be pointing your gun at him? Secondly, even if she just sat back and said “what do I care, go ahead”, that doesn’t make her a murderer, and she didn’t, she froze. Third, she’s unarmed, The Mirror isn’t, he should clearly be the main concern. I’m hoping The Mirror is messing with her mind ’cause this is ridiculous, it is the one sour note of writing in the issue and unfortunately, that’s what the issue ends with.
The only other thing that bothers me a little is that they have to panels of the Joker shooting Barbara in the spine at different parts of the issue. Once is flashback and establishing. The second time is gratuitous. I’m really hoping this series does well and is up to Simone’s standards, but those two bits are worrying. Granted, she’s been given an incredibly difficult task, I just really want it to work out.