Even after a terrible opening–Simone finishes her cliffhanger without a proper recap, I still don’t know what happened or why–Batgirl starts to recover. And it does so against some substantial odds.
Besides the weak open, Syaf can’t draw regular people. He’s a fine superhero artist, but when he’s got to do two people talking, it bombs. It’s like he doesn’t understand actual facial expression, but understands it exists. He ruins an otherwise good scene (between Jim and Barbara).
Then, on the writing high point, Simone brings in Nightwing. Now, I’ve sort of read all the content before–it’s Barbara and Dick flirting and Batgirl wanting her independence from the Bat-family–but Simone writes it well.
Syaf does pretty well too, since they’re in costume, but he can’t do anything with Nightwing’s stupid costume. It just looks terrible.
Another new DC Universe factoid? Dick seems older than Barbara.
The point, to me, of a Barbara Gordon Batgirl comic is Barbara Gordon.
And on some level, Gail Simone is with me. The comic comes (albeit slowly) to life when Barbara shows up in her civilian life. It also perks up when Batgirl, the cheeriest (traditionally) of the Batman Family, is out in the daylight.
But Simone doesn’t have a lot of Barbara or daytime in the comic. Instead, there’s more protracted “unsure Batgirl in action” sequences. I was hesitantly onboard with the book last issue and the first half of this issue had me ready to shred it.
The second half slightly recovers, not fully, but enough to show there’s still the possibility of good content. Just not much of a chance an issue will be completely good….
The most disappointing aspect has to be the discovery Syaf has trouble drawing regular people. His Commissioner Gordon’s about four foot.
I like Ardian Syaf. I’d never heard of him before Batgirl but he does a good job.
The big question of a Barbara Gordon Batgirl comic is how Gail Simone is going to handle The Killing Joke. She handles it like it’s 1991 and Barbara’s getting over it. That approach is at once the issue’s greatest strength and weakness.
Simone does it all quite well–victim recovering and so on. But it makes Batgirl a decidedly retro book–and it’s a good one. Syaf’s style is in line with the never explicitly identified DC house style of the eighties. He’s good at action, good at detail. Barbara is physically realistic (i.e. athletic, not slutty).
There’s a strange red herring with her new roommate, who seems to be Dick Grayson’s girlfriend from Nightwing years back… but isn’t. Must be a clone.
I don’t love Batgirl but feel hopeful I will.