I was looking forward to this. So why is Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey: Rebirth #1 so awful?
To give you an idea of what I’m on about, let’s focus on a couple of pages from Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey: Rebirth #1. Imagine the scene: Batgirl and Black Canary have ambushed a mob guy in an S.U.V. because they need information from him. So far, so good.
Smashing his headlights in some way which isn’t made clear, Batgirl then tazers the driver. An arrow shot from behind them strikes the S.U.V. next to Batgirl. It’s Huntress. Standing… on the roof of the S.U.V.? But didn’t the arrow come from behind Batgirl at a straight angle, and not from upwards in front of her? Huntress had to be at street level, away from the car. Hmm. Maybe her arrow ricocheted and she was standing on the S.U.V. all along, or maybe she did some Flying Graysons-style somersault-with-a-twist from behind Batgirl, landing on the vehicle in the blink of an eye.
But I don’t think so. In fact, like those incredible smashed headlights, it just kind of happened. And if you think I’m nitpicking, think again.
Because then, to stop a fight on the roof of the S.U.V. between Huntress and Black Canary, Batgirl slaps the car into gear to lurch it forward. Even though we didn’t see her actually get in the vehicle or lean through the door to do it. She’s kind of short, there’s already a driver in the passenger seat and the next panel shows she’s clearly standing outside the car, nowhere near it. So how did she do it? Did she push the driver out of his seat, get in, accelerate the car and then leap out and we missed it all? And if it was her, couldn’t the mobster in the back seat have stopped her?
Maybe it’s the art, or the descriptions to the artist being muddled, or maybe it’s me. But I know that while comic books don’t show every movement of characters, but it has to follow some sort of sequential logic that the reader can follow. This isn’t Star Trek and people don’t just teleport to wherever they look best, and things don’t just happen by magic like in Harry Potter. Comic books have to flow properly in order to make sense, and this one doesn’t.
And, by the way, why is Barbara Gordon’s narrative contained in purple caption blocks? Shouldn’t that be Huntress’s colour? It’s bad when you have to re-start reading the comic after a few pages just because you thought a different character was narrating it.
And now, on with the plot…
It’s a depressingly dull “getting the band back together” tale. Someone using the name of Oracle is selling information to the Mafia. Batgirl asks Black Canary for help and they promptly engage in some snarky repartee. There’s some shallow exposition about Barbara Gordon, glossing over her history, but it all adds up to very little. It’s a slap in the face to the work all the others who have worked so hard over the years to make Barbara Gordon one of DC’s most beloved figures.
In fact, Batgirl, Black Canary and Huntress have gone from being intelligent, well-written characters into interchangeable vigilantes in costumes. This isn’t progression, it’s regression. The writing is one-dimensional and misses the point of Rebirth completely. The art, somewhat acceptable at first, becomes almost laughably bad when the fight sequence starts. It’s a shockingly bad combination leading to an ominous start to the series. Unless there’s drastic improvement quickly (and let’s be honest, it’s hard to imagine this getting worse) this series is doomed.
You don’t need to be an oracle to see that future coming.