Category: Super Heroes


I’m something approaching  early this week. I wanted to get this posted the day it came out instead of  waiting until tomorrow. I also wanted to do something to apologize for being so late last week, so I’m posting a review tomorrow as well. Bringing this to you thanks to NetGalley, here’s a review of DC Universe Rebirth: Batgirl volume 1: Beyond Burnside. Enjoy!

Batgirl vol 1 Beyond Burnside cover

Batgirl is on vacation, and Barbara Gordon is headed to Okinawa in hopes of interviewing Chiyo Yamashiro, the Fruit Bat, a vigilante from the 30’s. Even on vacation Barbara manages to find trouble in the form of her childhood friend Kai and the three “students” hunting him down. Can she figure out what Kai’s gotten himself into and how to save him or will Batgirl flunk out?

I feel very out of my depth reviewing this. It’s been since Gail Simone left the Book that I’ve read a Batgirl comic and I’ve missed a lot. That said, while there’s some thing’s I’m not a huge fan of, I find myself really liking this iteration of Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl. Hope Larson does a good job with the characters and a more than reasonably good job with the story.

Let’s actually start with that. What makes this Batgirl different than what I’m used to? She feels a lot younger for one, that’s one of those things I’m not real big on, but it also lends a lighter feel to the comic so it balances out. She’s apparently running her own company as well, a company that makes enough that she can travel around the world pretty easily, so that’s something I’m curious about. I’m also interested in what’s going on in Burnside, which seems to be Batgirl’s Bludhaven, her Gotham in a way. So a lot of that actually makes for a really good jumping on point. The character is familiar enough not to alienate a reader who’s either lapsed or someone who knows her from something else, but also fresh enough to feel new.

The flipside is that the arc that Beyond Burnside covers is very standard Batfamily stuff. The new old friend, Kai, just happens to be Barbara’s roommate at the first place she stays. He gets attacked while they’re out seeing a festival and meeting Fruit Bat, thus introducing our villain. Necessary coincidences happen as required. It’s a good building point, and I’m curious about some of the characters, but it does feel like a safe introduction kind of story. This being the first arc for the DC Universe Rebirth for Batgirl, that’s not a bad thing just very safe.

I’m not familiar with Rafael Albuquerque’s art. It’s not my favorite thing, and I do feel like it’s one of the weaker parts of the book. This is mostly due to the lack of backgrounds throughout the book. Having a single solid color backing the panel can be a great way to reinforce the emotion of a scene, if used sparingly. I feel like it’s overused here, which makes it lose its effectiveness and just feels a little off. Albuquerque’s faces can be fantastically emotive, though they can also slip into something just slightly off, something about the angling in some of the close-ups or just going a little too far with an expression.

I enjoyed this a good deal, it was fun, it did the job of introducing the world at large to keep my interest past this arc, and the one-shot story at the end was a good way to tie up loose ends and cool down from the arc. Batgirl Volume 1: Beyond Burnside gets a four out of five from me, it would have been a five if not for the few issues with the art.

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Yeah, I’m back on this again and ignoring that review that I’ll be posting probably either later tonight or sometime tomorrow.  Here’s the thing, I’ve been a fan of Barbara Gordon since back in the nineties with Batman the Animated Series when I had no clue that the comics were any different.   Back then, I had no idea that The Killing Joke had happened or that there was a second Batgirl.  This was the character that I wanted to grow up to be.  She was like Velma but with more attitude and she got to work with Batman.

Fast forward to sometime during high school and I’ve heard of The Killing Joke but not read it.  I’ve heard that there was a second Batgirl and that she was rather poorly delt with for a chunk of her run in the cape.  But I hadn’t really started reading comics yet.  The Sandman, sure but that was because the school library had it in trade paperbacks and I had free time while being a library aide.  It was around this time that I started to get more interested in comics as a whole, so I’d started reading up on DC’s super heroes to see who I wanted to focus on.

Fast forward again to around February.  Holy cow there’s going to be a Batwoman monthly comic!  Issue #0 is coming out and The Question is going to be in Birds of Prey!  I was practically dancing in my seat with this one.  Plus I was trying to keep up with the Odyssy of Wonder Woman arc of Wonder Woman because I wanted to see how they changed the character.  And follow it through to Flashpoint and my various rants on that, it’s really one of the things that sticks out at me as a forced money grab even now.  But I’ve finally got that Batwoman ongoing as part of my draw list, and Birds of Prey is still pretty cool even without Lady Blackhawk or Huntress.

It’s kind of itchy though, reading Batgirl and seeing Barbara go from tough leadery Oracle to a Batgirl so full of self doubt that I almost expect that the villain is going to wind up doing himself in rather than her winning.This is where I get to the meat of my ramble, don’t worry the rest was just back story.  Now, not all of the sources agree, but apparently Babs was Oracle sometime during those three years post-Flashpoint.  Why isn’t she still?  I’m basing this mostly on the character I was reading back in Birds of Prey but it’s hard to see her giving up the autonomy of being a hero on her own to step back under the Batmantle.  Out of the chair she’s still the same character, or at least she should be.  Post-Flashpoint Batgirl seems to assume a Barbara who never quit being Batgirl prior to The Killing Joke, one who would go back to that after having been Oracle.

This is a character who questioned her reasons for crime fighting right up through the eighties when she quit and was then shot in the spine for being related to Batman’s supporting cast.  Except it isn’t anymore, maybe.  What was DCnU Barbara Gordon like before the Joker shot her?  Was she Silver Age Batgirl with her Batpurse and day job as a librarian?  Was she BtAS Batgirl the plucky not quite side kick?  Heck, was she Stephanie Brown with red hair and no history as Spoiler?  I’m growing tired of DCnU Batgirl’s near constant self questioning.  I understand that she’s not at a hundred percent yet and I understand that Gail Simone is laying the basis for the rest of the comic, but the more I read the less I like Babs and the more I want to just quietly go back to finding Oracle’s appearances in trade paperbacks.

This is one of those situations where I want to see what other people have to say about this.  I’m going to keep reading for at least the next arc to see how DCnU Babs develops, but I’m thinking that this may not be something that stays on my draw list much longer. What do you think internets?  Does the current incarnation make more sense to you that it does me?  Where do you think Simone is going to go with Batgirl from here?

I find myself wondering just how they’re going to handle it when Maggie Sawyer eventually figures out that Kate is the Batwoman.  Is Kate going to tell her because she ultimately needs someone to rely on and having a Commissioner Gordon of her own would be a great help?  Will Maggie figure it out and confront her about it?  Will the confrontation be as a cop or as her girlfriend?  I’m almost expecting them to use Maggie eventually figuring Kate out as an excuse to bring Renee back in for some good old fashioned Batangst that ends with all three characters single and pissed at each other.  Maybe have Renee try to talk Kate in to telling Maggie because of the communication issues their relationship has been characterized by.

The blurb for issue three mentioned something about Kate’s “nocturnal activities” messing with her relationship with Maggie, so maybe we’re already going to see some suspicion on the good detective’s part?  I mean it’s not like her pale as death red headed new girlfriend and that pale as death red headed vigilante could have anything to do with each other.  Nothing at all.

I don’t know, what do you guys think?

Nothing to say here just at the moment.  If any of my readers live near Auburn, there’s a massive sale over at Turn the Page (previously The Book Rack) next Friday and Saturday.

Carrie Vaughn is one of those authors who’s books I buy as soon as I possibly can after they come out.  With After the Golden Age, I didn’t have to wait.

Commerce City’s greatest super villain, the Destructor, is in jail for tax fraud and it’s up to crack forensic accountant Celia West to make sure he stays there.  But as the trial proceeds mistakes in Celia’s past come to light, mistakes hidden by her super hero parents and the police, mistakes that could bring her entire life tumbling down around her.  To save the day Celia will have to learn to deal with her father, her past, and the growing distance between herself and those she cares about.

This book made my inner comic nerd dance with glee.  For the Olympiad, it took fairly stock super hero types and developed them into people rather than capes.  Less fortunately any other super heroes got less development including Typhoon, also known as Celia’s best friend Analise.  The main villain was appropriately conniving and creepy.  The mysterious retired hero was mentioned just enough to make me want to learn more about him.  Best though was that Celia got herself out of most of her emotional funks.  She went through the “no one loves me” phase to the “wait, why am I letting the bad guy win” phase by herself.  Celia didn’t get the support that Vaughn’s longer standing heroine Kitty Norville has, but she has the same tough smart assery that makes Vaughn’s books a joy to read.

I will admit that my one big frustration while reading After the Golden Age was that while I was reading I kept trying to figure out which comic book super hero each of the Olympiad could be compared to.  After reading though, I’ll admit that I enjoyed that too.  I give After the Golden Age a five out of five and suggest it to anyone who’s a fan of superhero comics.