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ComicsAlliance Reviews Every Comic in DC’s ‘New 52’: Week 1
The first major wave of new #1 DC Comics finally hit stores this week, following last week’s solo debut of Justice League. The biggest question for most fans facing racks and racks of new books is simple: Which ones should I try? The ComicsAlliance staff has gathered together to help answer that with a roundtable review of every relaunched DC book this week: Action Comics, Animal Man, Batgirl, Batwing, Detective Comics, Green Arrow, Hawk and Dove, Men of War, O.M.A.C, Justice League Unlimited, Men at War, O.M.A.C, Static Shock, Stormwatch and Swamp Thing. Join Curt Franklin, Caleb Goellner, Andy Khouri, Laura Hudson, Chris Sims and David Uzumeri as they rate each book on a scale of 1-10 and try to gauge the success of DC’s bold new experiment.
David: Oh, Lord. They somehow managed to find a way to restore Barbara Gordon to being Batgirl that simultaneously insults both Batgirl fans AND Oracle fans. I’m almost impressed. I loved the Stephanie Brown run of Batgirl; I thought it was the most purely fun book DC had put out in years. The fact that it got cancelled, and Oracle got taken out of the picture, for THIS… Longtime fans are going to be pissed off at the glossing over of her time as Oracle and her hilariously inept superheroing at the end. New readers are going to be lost as to why anyone would want to jump into a comic about a PTSD superheroine. This comic is alternatingly joyless and entirely too satisfied with its own cleverness. The villain is the plot of the Final Destination movies, and don’t even get me started on Babs’s new roommate. I have never in my life met an “activist” whose idea of “activism” is taking red paint and writing “FIGHT THE POWER!” on the wall. Chuck D would be ashamed. Her dialogue, with calling Gordon “G.B.G.” because Babs stuttered introducing herself, sounds like no person in the history of people. 1.
Chris: Spot on Uzi: No joy. No fun. This isn’t the book people who liked Batgirl: Year One wanted, and it’s not the book that people who liked The Killing Joke wanted either. Who’s it for? Writing my review of Batgirl #1 was really, really tough, because the only thing you can really say is that everything about it is terrible. The dialogue is awkward, the villain is laughable; the art is rushed; the weird hammering of the timeline doesn’t make any sense; it completely removes the triumph of determination that we got from Oracle by replacing it with a Batgirl who, I’m sorry, seems weak and ineffectual in a way that might work if this was her very first adventure, but definitely not if she’s built on the premise that she’s already been Batgirl. Even if I try to divorce myself completely from the way I feel about Barbara Gordon as she existed up until this month, it’s just a poorly done comic in every respect. The best you can say about it is that it had the right number of pages and the staples held it together. I give it a 1.
Andy: Batgirl #1 is a grand disappointment if for no other reason than it took all the fun out of trolling Stephanie Brown fans all these months. With Batgirl #1, Simone and DC actually made the restoration of Barbara Gordon even more painful and offensive than we thought it would be, because they decided that it was more important that Batgirl had been handicapped than it was for her to have been a handicapped HERO. Oracle has apparently been erased altogether, as if the wheelchair was itself the thing people liked about Barbara and why they wanted her to be Batgirl again. When the panel-for-panel flashback to The Killing Joke is the best part of your Batgirl comic…
Andy: In terms of pure comicbookery, this was a pretty bad issue. It was very difficult to follow who anyone was or why they were doing anything they were doing. On one page the dialogue seemed to switch back and forth between speech balloons and captions, maybe even in the same panel. Ostensibly Batgirl was restored because of the endurance of her classic persona in pop culture. But this is not that Batgirl at all, this is a completely new one with more lines drawn all over her. However, the Adam Hughes cover is lovely. 3.
Caleb: Batgirl took Barbara Gordon from being a smart, cool older sister to a younger sister you worry about but don’t really like enough at the moment to call on the phone. 4.
Laura: I feel like we’re reading an early draft of what was going to become Batgirl #1, like it escaped early somehow. The constant voiceover narration during the action scenes was distracting and sounded inauthentic; I get that Simone was trying to contrast Barbara’s inner insecurities with the intimidating “SWEAR TO ME” facade she puts on, but it felt dissonant rather than compelling. Not to mention that it weirdly withheld the one thing everyone wanted to know, probably even new readers: How did she walk again after being paralyzed, an incident this issue references numerous times? I like the idea that her new disability is PTSD, and I really hope that gets developed and explored in more interesting ways, but the finale where she freezes up and gets blamed as a MURDERER! for failing to help when she is literally standing next to the actual murderer everyone just watched throw a guy out a window — unacceptably silly. It’s a 3 for me.
Curt: I get the Batgirl criticism, but it didn’t seem that bad to me. I guess it all comes down to whatever ‘the miracle’ is that allowed Barbara to walk again. Is it gonna just never be mentioned again or will it be part of the plot? I trust Simone enough to have something else in store for that. As Sims mentioned, the roommate was a bit too stereotypically ‘alternative’ and the part at the end where Batgirl simply freezes up at the sight of a gun pointing at her spine was a bit silly. Speaking of, how the hell do you know if something’s pointed at your spine as opposed to any other part of your body? Would she have been cool if the guy was pointing the gun at her foot? I’m giving this one the benefit of the doubt, only based on the strength of the author. It can’t be as silly as issue #1 seems. 6.
Average rating of Batgirl #1: 3
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