I’ll be honest with you, after the second issue of this comic, I was pretty sure I was going to drop it. It got off to a rocky start. And I am a huge Barbara Gordon fan and grew up with her in the role of Batgirl, so I was very excited by the idea of the new book. But in the first two issues, she just seemed unfit for the role! Luckily things are starting to turn around here.
Batgirl thinks she’s outsmarted Mirror, her foe who wants to kill anyone that he thinks should have died but was saved by a “miracle” usually the intervention of someone else. I repeat, she thinks she’s outsmarted him, only for something catastrophic to occur. I didn’t realize the detective from the first issue, Melody McKenna was going to get her own subplot, but she seems to take issue with Jim Gordon’s “blind spot” when it comes to the Bat Family and sets out to do something about it. Barbara does some emotional struggling, but gets it together enough to recover her motorcycle from impound… only to be confronted by Nightwing. Their flirtation devolves into a sparring match, which ends with Batgirl warning Dick to leave the Mirror case to her and her alone.
The big reveal here is that while Babs and Dick have a prior flirtation and still struggle with strong feelings for one another, it does not appear that they ever dated! That’s pretty huge, but honestly, it’s not a surprise at this point. So much of the DC Universe’s past is being scrapped wholesale, it’s almost come to be expected.
My biggest gripe with the first two issues of this book (read Brian Tudor’s review of issue #1 here), was just that Barbara seemed inept! Her dialogue was clunky and she just stumbled around screwing up and getting hurt! This was Oracle! At one point, she was one of the master strategists of the DCU! She should be five steps ahead of every foe, not getting injured by knuckleheads like the Brisby Killers from issue #1. She also shouldn’t be a neurotic mess!
The sequence with Nightwing helped fix a lot of that! At first, she feels butterflies at seeing her first major crush again, only to have that feeling replaced by anger at his assumption that she can’t handle Mirror and needs his (and Batman’s help). First they flirt, then they play tag and then they duke it out, with Batgirl taking Nightwing down and sending him on his way. So maybe the flaky, flighty Batgirl from the first issues was there for a reason, so she could get her act together here and steel herself for her chosen path.
Gail Simone had me worried up until now. The banter between Dick and Barbara is sharp and some of the best I can recall. I also kind of like that these characters are freed of a lot of past baggage. I feel like I should feel the opposite, because so much continuity has been thrown out the window, but this is a fresh start for the DC Universe, so maybe I’m just settling into the vibe of these new stories. But I’m looking forward to these two flirting for the foreseeable future.
Ardian Syaf’s pencils are energetic and detailed. Batgirl/Barbara and Nightwing/Dick have a real grace to their movements, which is nice. My one complaint is that with so many hash marks and detail lines, it looks a bit too ’90s Image Comics, like someone doing their best Jim Lee or Marc Silvestri impression.
At any rate, I was considering dropping this book, but this single issue helped convince me to stick around and see where this leads. I’m crossing my fingers for the best!
Written by Gail Simone
Pencils by Ardian Syaf
Cover by Adam Hughes