But honestly, I was too miffed. Or was it stumped? Regardless, I just couldn't crank out a review at the time.
Once I had procrastinated on writing a review — much less trying to figure out what to say — I soon realized it was better to give the new creative team another issue and another month and then review this revamped/tweaked version of Batgirl. That way I figured I would be reviewing/blogging with a clearer mind and would give the reboot a better perspective.
Sooo — taking a deep breath, here it is:
Even after two issues (Nos. 35-36), I'm not thrilled with how much younger Barbara Gordon seems to be under writers Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher.
|Batgirl by artist Chris Samnee (via majorspoilers.com)|
Under Gail Simone's (mostly) masterful run, Babs definitely is in her early 20s. The initial reveal by the aptly first-named Babs Tarr and Stewart gave me the impression she is somewhere in her mid-teens. And Gordon's attitude and the way she interacts with people her own age reflects the slightly immature and socially awkward Babs we see in issue 35.
By the next issue, Babs is obviously in college (which wasn't apparent in BATGIRL No. 35) since she's seeking a professor. Credit goes to the artists for this. Babs' body is still slight, but her face looks older and slightly more mature.
This begs the question: Where's the consistency?
Onto Batgirl. The artists have made Gordon less well endowed and certainly less curvy. Her younger-skewing Batgirl costume does nothing but emphasize her smaller frame. In turn, this translates into the "new" Batgirl looking less like the butt-kicker we saw during Simone's run.
|The variant cover of BATGIRL No. 36.|
Technology — specifically social media — is a big focus. And not just for Babs and her friends.
In issue 35, Batgirl had to track down a D.J./hacker who threatened to post everyone's "dirty little secrets" on his website. In the final and admittedly awkward confrontation, Batgirl outfoxes this creep into texting him her unmasked face (sorta) — only to have sent him a virus that crashes his site and destroys his information.
Babs, in the next issue, has to find someone with the proper external drive to replace the contents of her computer, which held the most important part of her research (which I assume is her master's thesis.) Keep in mind Gordon lost her computer in issue 35.
The online world is a storytelling technique. Email messages, texts and instant messages between characters take the place of the "meanwhile" and "later" or locations used in narrative boxes. (Although many modern comics place such information within the panel, not necessarily in its own box within a panel.)
While this may seem cutting edge and very "now," uh, now, I can't imagine this technique becoming widespread. For one, it's awkward to read. Secondly, using texts, etc. to provide the setting is difficult to understand. More importantly, what's now culturally relevant no doubt will become dated. Very quickly — just as Golden Age and Bronze Age writers' references to entertainers are now when you read books from those eras.
So far, Gordon's photographic memory has played an instrumental role in the plotlines of each issue. In BATGIRL No. 35, her friends get creeped out when she uses her vivid sense of recalling events at a party to track the last time she saw her computer. In the following issue, Batgirl uses a memory of watching a childhood favorite anime-style cartoon to defeat the menacing motorcyclists she faces.
With technology being the crux of the last two stories, this leads me to some questions: Does that mean Batgirl always will be facing online evil as long as Stewart and Fletcher are writing the series? Have we seen the last of any actual villains? (I sure hope not!) Admittedly, some of the villains Simone used and/or created were weak or too one-dimensional for my tastes, but if Batgirl remains immersed in the online world (yaaaawwwwn!), doesn't that beg the question that that same context eventually will be dated? And in that case, won't that lead to another creative reboot?
Grades — Issue 35: C; Issue 36: B-