Review: Batgirl #40

bg40Few may have read the actual origin, but the Oracle identity of Barbara Gordon started in Suicide Comics #48 in 1990.  The Barbara Gordon that had been crippled by the Joker in the Killing Joke reappeared for the first time as a superhero, but as a very different superhero, different even from what she became as Oracle.  Instead of the cyber sleuth who could track down any and all information through computer hacking, she was a cyber hero, given the form of real person in cyberspace to battle other viruses or other malicious cyber entities.  Moving forward to the DC Comics company wide relaunch into the new 52, and the new direction for the character was criticized, notably as it removed one of the most prominent disabled characters from comics and replaced them with a healthy version of Barbara Gordon (albeit one in which the events of Killing Joke still occurred.)

Much has been made of the new direction that Batgirl has taken in the past year, and the character has become the standard bearer of how to treat female characters in the modern medium.  Somewhere along the way though her past got mostly forgotten, but with the latest issue of Batgirl that is addressed finally.  Her algorithm has created an alternate version of herself, based in a computer landscape, but one which wants to escape into what it views as its rightful body.  Barbara is forced to ss481990realize that her approach to life is not perfect and has to do so while essentially battling herself.  As the action unfolds, it is a fairly normal set of action sequences but even they are given more depth through an extreme utilitarian approach of the program to achieve justice.

What this issue manages to achieve is rather impressive.  Fans of the character since before the reboot or before the new 52 relaunch will be happy to see the references to what the character used to be as well as her past.  While this is an effective nod to the fans, it is not heavy handed at all, and for those that are oblivious to the character’s detailed past, this still reads as a tight plot with everything in the right proportions.  There are those that might think that this first story arc is getting a bit tired with its constant focus on the role of technology in our lives, but this is the end of the menace of the algorithm, and the end of the first story arc of the new run.  It will be interesting to see where they go from here, but so far this series has achieved unexpected success which is capped by this excellent issues.

Story: Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher  Art: Babs Tarr
Story:  9.2 Art: 9.2  Overall: 9.2  Recommendation: Buy