Review: Batgirl #37

Batgirl 037For anyone that might think that after looking at this garish cover that the series has gone a bit overboard is kind of missing the point, because that is exactly what this issue is about.  While the story loosely follows a pretty generic story line here, it is exactly this over-the-top approach which is what makes this issue excel, not in the actual application of the material, but rather in the social commentary.  It is pretty rare for DC (or Marvel) to put out an issue like this one, but this ends up being a near perfect synthesis of fun and serious in one issue.  The story focuses on Barbara trying to find the person that has been impersonating her and ruining her reputation.  This involves both a standoff after her doppelganger is involved in a heist and then a seemingly out-of-place art show focused on her.  This involves a beautiful moment focused on the character’s past, before moving on to the final showdown with the faux-Batgirl.

Where this series has succeeded under the new creative team is with the personal focus on the character.  The villains are somewhat interchangeable thus far, both in terms of their motivation and their inspiration.  In essence, one might expect something similar from the villains out of the 1960s Batman television series.  It is not the villains where the heart of this series lays though, rather with the complexities of the main character and her supporting cast.  When they get dressed up for the art exhibit, it feels like the reader is going along with them, not as a vicarious journey, but rather sharing their genuine experiences, and while some fans might read this and think that it is not a typical superhero comic, it deserves praise for not being so.  It is character driven with a strong enough social message to make it all the more pertinent.

The end result is one of the best single issues that I have read in a long time in comics.  The first impression of this issue does lead to the concept of superficiality as the cover suggested, but once the reader realizes that this is meant as a criticism and not as homage, then it becomes clear that something a lot deeper is transpiring here.  Although Barbara is a fictional character she lives through challenges that seem real enough, as instead of worrying about stopping an invasion from Apokolips she is dealing with problems that would seem real enough to people in the real world.  This is a series with a heart and a soul, and it wears it proudly for all to see, and is really one of the standout series from DC at the moment.

Story: Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher  Art: Babs Tarr
Story:  9.5 Art: 9.5  Overall: 9.5  Recommendation: Buy