After the disastrous start to Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #1, I feared the worst for Batgirl #1. Thankfully, instead I was treated to a rather optimistic beginning for one of DC’s most beloved heroes.
Barbara Gordon, deciding to take a spiritual walkabout, heads to Japan with the intention of meeting retired heroine Fruit Bat (don’t laugh). However, she runs into her old friend Kai who seems to be doing very little with his life. It’s a chance meeting which seems like a whole lot more than coincidence. In fact, it’s a bit of a mystery to solve. Still, even superheroes need to take a break and the best way to learn more about Kai at the same time is for them to grab some lunch and then go for a few drinks.
Afterward, they meet the illustrious Fruit Bat – now enjoying her very old age and confined to a wheelchair – only for Barbara to have her interview cut short by an assassin. Except this particular assassin isn’t interested in Barbara or Fruit Bat, instead her target is Kai. Naturally, Barbara dons her Batgirl costume and comes to his rescue, but even that isn’t enough to stop the young assassin and Fruit Bat gets to demonstrate her legendary skills once more. But now the mystery of Kai remains, and will need to be investigated further…
This is one of the basic beginnings for a new Batgirl series that you could get. It’s also one of the better ones. Batgirl #1 may not rank up there with the best Batgirl stories, but it’s optimistic and bright, and quite a lot of fun. It does the job of engaging the reader not by trying too hard, but rather by using a somewhat lighter approach and because of that it manages to strike just the right balance. Barbara Gordon comes across as intelligent, adventurous and, most importantly, likeable. And that’s the key to a successful Batgirl comic.
Getting the character right has to be the first priority.
The story has some minor problems with pacing, dialogue and artwork, but Barbara Gordon comes across as being such a delightful character that it’s easy to forgive the flaws as little more than teething problems. Instead, it makes readers actually look forward to the next issue so that we can learn more about the story and where it’s going.
Hope Larson and Rafael Albuquerque manage to deliver on a very tough job. This may not be the comic everybody wants to read or the version of Barbara Gordon some fans would prefer, but they know their target audience and hit all the right notes.