I have an apology to make.
I’m late to the party. Not “fashionably” late, where everybody has just gotten there and has asked the host if you’re coming, just to have you walk in and they all say “HEEEY THERE HE IS!” No this was the other kind of late, the kind where you’re driving the van and everyone has been waiting for you and trying to call for hours, but you were asleep or picking your nose or maybe you couldn’t put down Call of Duty because you finally have a positive K/D ratio, and you’re not giving it up.
What party am I so late to? Gail Simone‘s new 52 Batgirl.
Finally, 2 years later, I read Batgirl vol. 1 in trade paperback thanks to my co-blogger Jonny’s recommendation.
For those who don’t know the character, Batgirl (Barbara Gordon, daughter of Commissioner James Gordon) has been through a lot. She was shot and paralyzed from the waist down by the Joker in an infamously brutal story by Alan Moore, and for a long time she was wheelchair-bound. Fortunately for Gotham (and the Bat-family) she kept using her (practically super-human) brain for good by becoming Oracle, the information hub/designated hacker/all-around-genius for all the Gotham heroes.
But with the arrival DC’s new 52, we fans were blessed with a return of Babs Gordon to the street-level crime-fighting for which she was born! By some miracle (which I don’t fully understand, and neither does she), she has regained the use of her legs and fully intends to put them to use. She expresses very early in the comic that she “didn’t even know how much [she] missed it.”
My DC pull list for the New 52 has varied some as titles and teams change, but my consistent pulls have been Batman, Animal Man, Swamp Thing, and Wonder Woman. With the exception of Wonder Woman (and on some rare occasions Swamp Thing) I’ve been reading a lot of really tragic stories coming out of DC recently. Bruce Wayne and Buddy Baker have had a really bad couple of years.
The end result of that is that my favorite heroes have been seeming really hopeless lately. Animal Man, Batman, and Swamp Thing have gotten to a point where they really don’t enjoy what they do.
The wonderful thing about Batgirl is that she really loves being Batgirl! She caries a youthful innocence, determination, and hope into the streets of Gotham, a city that characteristically saps hope from its citizens.
The story arc that is collected in Batgirl vol. 1 is not a “happy” story, by any stretch of the imagination. The villain against whom she fights is cold, destructive, and unsympathetic. But when Batgirl gets on the motorcycle with Nightwing (Dick Grayson, the original Robin), you can’t stop yourself from smiling…
So stop what you’re doing and go to your local comic book shop, and pick up the new 52’s Batgirl, by Gail Simone and Ardian Syaf. You won’t be disappointed.