Tagged: Barbara Gordon

Graphic Spotlight – BATGIRL VOL. 1: BEYOND BURNSIDE

Batgirl’s world tour starts here!

No corner of the DC Universe hasn’t been touched by the events of Rebirth. For most all of DC’s titles it’s been an incredible fresh slate, not a reboot, but a new point to jump on and take the characters towards stories that feel earned, logical, self-contained without being disconnected, and delivering some the strongest stories from the publisher in a long time and on time. DC’s promise of a new direction for its characters in a way that doesn’t discount the last five years while still providing a new jumping on point for new or casual fans continues in the first collection of Batgirl’s newest adventures, Batgirl Vol. 1: Beyond Burnside.

Barbara Gordon’s return to the cape and cowl was met with great trepidation back in the old days (you know, 2011). Gail Simone wrote a three year story of healing, both physically and emotionally, grounding Barbara in overcoming the trauma that put her in a wheelchair for years of her life. It was a tricky line to walk and Simone began with a good jumping off point that grew into one of the best books DC was publishing. Then came the pop-tastic makeover by Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, and artist Babs Tarr.

Barbara was given a neighborhood of Gotham to call her own, the eponymous Burnside. It was a fresh new take on Babs and her world, where she was a brilliant student and a superhero establishing her own independence from the Bat-family.

Now, New York Times best-selling creators Hope Larson (A Wrinkle in Time) and Rafael Albuquerque (American Vampire) will take Batgirl on a journey to elevate her skills. The trek will include stops in hotspots like Okinawa, Singapore, Seoul, and even Shanghai. Everywhere she goes, Batgirl’s life will be threatened by lethal warriors who all bear a mysterious mark indicating “The Student.” Which, of course, baits the question that if there are students, Batgirl will need to track down their teacher…

As Batgirl goes on her own international hunt for the leader of this mysterious group of fighters, she’ll improve her own skills and cross paths with legendary heroes. If you’ve been waiting for Barbara Gordon to ascend into the grander scale of the superhero community then the wait is over.

Collects Batgirl #1-6

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl & The Birds of Prey #1

Nightwing #3 also shipped this week, and it’s a pretty good comic that features Barbara Gordon. However, so did B&BOP #1, which offers me MUCH more to talk about.

B013-Batgirl-and-the-Birds-of-Prey-1-Cover-214dcBatgirl & the Birds of Prey #1

Julie and Shawna Benson, Claire Row, Allen Passalaqua, Steven Wands

DC $2.99

It’s rare that I get to say that I have a guilty pleasure comic. Most of the comics I pull are critical darlings, or massive fan favorites. Then we have Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, which not only has a trio of character I like, but also a trio of female creators attached to the book. Should be a slam dunk for me right? No, the art is often ugly, and the dialogue is still WAY too over dramatic. Yet I can’t stop reading this book.

Birds of Prey #1 is the every cliche first meeting turn fight turn team up we’ve all come to expect from super hero books (Nightwing even chimes in on in, turning it into a running gag). Batgirl and Black Canary don’t trust Huntress, who Babs finally pieces together is Dick Grayson’s old spy partner/boss, but they come to terms with her so they can figure out who this new Oracle is. Unfortunately for our heroes, this new Oracle has a Batgirl-and-the-Birds-of-Prey-1-3plan, and this plan is SNAKE THEMED VILLAINS. Between this and the aforementioned Nightwing, it seems DC Rebirth is actually editorial ways of forcing BIG SNAKE onto the populace, and  I am okay with this.

I don’t want to crap on Claire Row‘s art, but there are some really questionable panels in this book. Barbara Gordon looks fine without her cowl on, but once it’s on, the shape of her head can only be described as “potato-esque”. Also there’s several instances where it looks like character’s teeth are trying to escape their mouths. With Roe as the inker and the pencilier, it leaves very little room for colorists Allen Passalaqua to make any improvements in this book. Their contributions are excellent, and its a shame that the line art he’s coloring isn’t better.

And like I said above, a lot of the dialogue from is bad, Julie and Shawna Benson as there’s a few instances where the characters argue with each other via screaming their motivations. Black Canary is often the voice of reasons and the only character who sounds remotely human. They do a fine job of showing that this new Oracle has gotten under Bab’s skin, so her acting slightly out of character at times is fine. But their Huntress spits Batgirl-and-the-Birds-of-Prey-1-7out cliche tough guy line after line to the point where it’s hilarious more than anything.

But that being said, I can’t stop buying and reading this book. It’s heavily flawed, but also crazy fun. While the art isn’t so hot in some areas, it’s more than serviceable in others, especially when it comes to the Babs and Canary versus Helena fight. And while the dialogue is so bad it’s good, the script itself and plot are pretty solid. So while there’s arguable better cape books on the stands, this is THE MOST CW DC book on the market, which means I MUST READ IT, despite my constant avoidance of Arrow.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #1

BG_Cv1_57082d25dc1793.92171144Batgirl #1

Hope Larson, Rafeal Albuquerque, Dave McCaig

DC $2.99

I’ll be honest; going into Batgirl #1, I was worried about the character and the direction they were taking her post Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, & Babs Tarr. There were multiple quotes from writer Hope Larson saying how this run was going to be darker, and while I like Rafeal Albuquerque‘s art, the last time he drew this incarnation of Batgirl there was bit of a thing. Also the white person walking around Asia to learn kung-fu is a trope that at best is cliche, and at worst a bit racist. That being said, reading this first issue has vanquished my fear and we instead get a pretty solid comic that’s mindful of my concerns.

The new Rebirth debut issue sees Babs Gordon in Japan, in search of an old-timey Japanese super hero named Fruit Bat, in order to up her own heroic game. While doing so, batgirl-1-preview-675x1024she runs across her never previously mentioned but apparently old friend Kai, as well as a Fuku-wearing assassin. While long-lost friends and school girl looking assassins were something covered extensively in the previous run, Hope Larson and Rafeal Albuquerque are talented enough creators to make this whole thing seem fresh.

Larson’s voice for Barbara Gordon is sharp enough to keep left over readers from the previous run pleased, but also comforting for lapsed reader who are coming back. Her Batgirl reads a little more focused and mature, but also fun and playful. It’s the best sort of compromise. While not all of the jokes in this issue land, Larson does a great job of building a new setting and status quo for Barbara, setting up the future of this title quite nicely. And granted Kai nor the nameless assassin we get in this issue do very little for me, the introduction of the Fruit Bat definitely makes for fun stuff.

Artist Rafael Albuquerque is definitely a more traditional super hero comics artist than Babs Tarr is, but with that being said, the book still maintains a youthful and fun visual tone. He does some excellent work with the body language and facial expressions in this book, and I love the energy he puts into his fight scenes. I also love the way Albuquerque portrays motion in a medium full of static imagery, as he’s  not afraid to experiment with BG01_03panel layouts and it leads to some great results. Dave McCaig’s colors are also a great fit for this book, as he sticks with bright colors that play off of Barbara’s costume and hair quite well.

Batgirl #1 is a fun first issue that doesn’t change the title character too much, and does a find job to appealing to several different types of audiences. It does an excellent job of showing the fun side of super heroics, with some dialogue that a little more polish and way less dramatic than the Babs we saw in Batgirl and the Birds of Prey. Old and new readers have plenty to like with this new creative team, making it arguably one of the more accessibly DC super hero comics to come out of Rebirth so far.

 

 

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Segmentation of the Innocent

I had a whole column planned this week about “The Complete History of Earwigs in Comics,” but as my agent pointed out, emphatically and with much passion, “Readers don’t like earwigs.” There’s no accounting for taste. To sum up the article in brief: “there aren’t many.”

We must note the passing of Ralph McQuarrie and Jean “Moebius” Giraud, two of the finest concept illustrators ever to raise pen to paper.  The Forbidden Planet keeps a pretty good stock in movie art books, concept art and other illustrative tomes of nifty drawings. Help yourself get over these sad passings by reminiscing with friends over some collections of their finer stuff.

They say famous people die in threes…I wonder if concept artists count as famous? If they do then H. R. Giger and Geoff Darrow better look both ways before they cross the street. There’s not that many famous concept artists left!

THIS WEEK

Buffy Season 9 #7 hits the shelves when we see print. YEARS ago a new Buffy would have been Earth shattering news, but it seems the ardor has cooled. I might pick this one up…it promises to have Spike and “Big Changes for our Slayer.”

I have NEVER plugged an Aspen book in my life, but I’m intrigued by the premise of Dead Man’s Run, which has a reprint of #2 and a new #3 out this week.  In Dead Man’s Run a cartographer dies and goes to Hell to find the afterlife is like a fiery, maximum-security prison. Dead set on a jail-break, our “hero” is trolling hell to find the toughest dead scofflaws to assist his scheme.  Sure, sounds fun! Continue reading

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