23 November 2011

"Batgirl" #3 (Jan 2012)

Batgirl #3
"A Breath of Broken Glass"
Gail Simone - writer
Ardian Syaf - penciller
Vicente Cifuentes - inker
Ulises Arreola - colors
Dave Sharpe - letterer
Adam Hughes - cover art
Katie Kubert - assistant editor
Bobbie Chase - editor
Batman created by Bob Kane
Date of publication - 9 November 2011
$2.99, 32 pages

My niece is spending the night, but she's asleep and I've got a second wind so I thought now would be as good a time as any to finally review some comics.

In issue #2, Batgirl established the real identity of Mirror and his motivation...and she was tasked with knowing that he was going to blow up a train on which a man who was "supposed" to die is a passenger. She hastily effects an intervention, but is forced to witness an act of carnage anyway. Deflated and furious, Barbara tries to find her emotional footing...and her physical footing as well, as Nightwing shows up to check on her condition. They spar, and by the end of the issue Batgirl makes clear where she feels she fits into the Bat-family.

I confess, I was leery of this issue going into it based solely on the appearance of Nightwing. Several DC New 52 titles featured hero-on-hero conflicts within the first three issues and the proliferation of that made me fear it was all part of a formulaic storytelling strategy (similar to the romantic/sexual interludes I noticed in the three issue #2s I read last month). The appearance of Nightwing may well have been ordered from on high, but Gail Simone deftly turns it into the most interesting character content of all ten New 52 issues I've read to date. There is a bittersweet intimacy between Barbara and Dick--part sibling, part former lovers--that allows for a specific dynamic of the characters to be explored. This is not the kind of conversation Barbara can have with her father, or with Batman, but one she seems to need to have with someone. By the end of this issue, I just wanted to hug Babs. Maybe I'm just sentimental and emotional these days.

Hats off to Ardian Syaf for some truly interesting action sequences. They're not as gritty as Tony Daniel's work in Detective Comics, but the aesthetic is perfect for this book: kinetic, at times visceral, but clean and a little lighthearted. It suits both Batgirl and Gail Simone's writing quite nicely. There's an endearing vulnerability to Barbara and tenderness in her dad in their two pages together in the middle of the issue, and Nightwing's face betrays genuine concern later.

In short, Batgirl is what a superhero comic book ought to be. I dig it.

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