Review: Batgirl #36

bg036covIn the past few months DC has been doing a lot of good things with the female heroes in the Gotham/Batman related titles.  Gotham Academy was launched which was focused on Young Adult age characters, and Batgirl was relaunched, focusing on New Adult age characters.  In both cases, the series forego a lot of the normal that comes with comic book heroines, at least at the big two, and focuses instead on their characters.  What is even more interesting, is that while these two series could ostensibly be aimed at a specific demographic based on the characters that they represent, they really aren’t.  It has been a while that I have seen two series that should have an all-ages fan base, especially two based on female heroes better known for using their brains than their fists.

This most recent issue of Batgirl focuses both the ongoing torments of Barbara’s normal life, as well as the introduction of some new villains to give her problems as Batgirl.  Although the sub-plot with the heroes is interesting it is really in the personal moments where this series succeeds.  Just as with Gotham Academy, there is a separate story being told here, one that is very different from those in Gotham, but one with its feet still very much placed in that universe.  Barbara has to deal with Dinah (Black Canary) sleeping on her couch, but equally she has to deal with crushing on a young professor, being pestered by the dating profile that she set up in the last issue, and going shopping for clothes that she can’t afford.  What makes this an even more engaging read is that these problems are shown as more organic than most heroes.  Bruce Wayne sleeps through board meetings to keep his secret identity real, but when Batman is on the hunt for the Joker, he won’t sleep for days on end until he is found.  Here there is a different dynamic as Barbara has to deal with a problem as Batgirl then switch back to Barbara to worry about problems which are more mundane but equally important to the character.

Without the proper balance this would fall apart, but the creative team has their story as compact and as fluid as possible.  In all honesty, the two villains that were introduced here were pretty weak, but the two of them seem to be more like throwaway villains, ones that likely won’t be seen again.  It is in the other areas where this issue succeeds, in the characterization of its heroine and even adding depth to the secondary characters.  DC now has two exceptional Gotham based titles on its hands, neither of which have to do directly with Batman.

Story: Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher Art: Babs Tarr
Story: 8.7  Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy