Best Shots Review: BATGIRL #1 'Fun & Engaging But Lacking Any Major Consequences'

"Batgirl #1" preview
Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics

Batgirl #1
Written by Hope Larson
Art by Rafael Albuquerque and Dave McCaig
Lettering by Deron Bennett
Published by DC Comics
Review by Richard Gray
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

Credit: DC Comics

Where many of the other “Rebirth” titles are going to great lengths to restore post-Crisis elements to their respective narratives, Hope Larson doubles down on the Batgirl of Burnside. Where the recent Batgirl and the Birds of Prey gave us a potted canonical history of the character, this rebooted Batgirl firmly reestablishes itself as interested in the most recent incarnation of Barbara Gordon.

Which is just fine if there is more to say, and Larson shifts the location to Japan immediately to see if the formula works outside of Gotham’s hipster mecca. It does for the most part, as a vacationing Babs leaves her tech empire and troubles behind to catch up with an old friend and seek out the Fruit Bat, or at least the 104-year-old woman that used to fight crime in the 1930s and 1940s. However, it doesn’t take long for Batgirl to go toe-to-toe with some local costumes, include the appearance of the last person she expected to see.

Credit: DC Comics

Ticking off the obligatory nods to “Burnside” culture, including a scene where they go an sample some craft beer, Batgirl wears its self-awareness on its sleeve once again. The same is true of the Japanese elements as well, with a cutesy Sailor Moon-inspired adversary presenting the issue’s only roadblock. As an elderly woman imparts a series of veiled hints about the “future” of the arc, it suddenly becomes clear that not a lot has actually occurred amidst the movement.

Credit: DC Comics

In a scream of Ben-Day dots, Rafael Albuquerque’s Batgirl comes tearing onto the page. Albuquerque blends his stylish version of artistic realism with the distinctive look and feel that Babs Tarr dropped almost two years ago, maintaining the laid-back quirk of the previous series with a dynamic set of action sequences. There’s a terrific sequence where Bab’s traces a visual path between her fleeing foe and an object she wishes to put in her path. With speed lines used for both movement and reaction shots, there’s a distinctively Eastern flavor to the whole issue as well. Dave McCaig’s color art is superb, adding warm and natural tones to the out of costume panels, and bright pinks and other outlandish color to the rest of the book.

This first issue of Batgirl is a fun and engaging story, and is true to the previous take of the character, but it just feels like it lacks any major consequences. Indeed, the final panel suggests that this was simply the first episode in a series of international jaunts that lay ahead for the Batgirl formerly of Burnside. While there is much to be said for this version of the character, even with its many detractors and fans, it just needs more than a familiar pastiche and a change of locale to maintain ongoing interest from herein.

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