On Things I’ve Been Reading

Let’s talk some recent comic books…

Batgirl #1
DC Comics
Written by Bryan Q. Miller
Art by Lee Garbett and Trevor Scott

I hated it. And I liked it.

We’ll start there.

There’s a new Batgirl in Gotham City. Stephanie Brown, formerly Spoiler, formerly the fourth Robin, has promised her occasional boyfriend, Tim Drake, formerly the third Robin, now Red Robin, that she’s going to hang up the Spoiler crimefighting identity. But she can’t, and one night, while on patrol with Cassandra Cain, the second Batgirl, Cassandra strips her costume off and hands it to Steph. Problem — the promise to never be Spoiler again — solved?

Maybe. Maybe not.

It’s also Steph’s first day in college.

Buh? Steph? College? Just a month ago, DCU comics time, she and Tim Drake were still high school students. And… she’s in a 400-level Philosophy class? Buh?

Then there’s Barbara Gordon, the first Batgirl. She’s confined to a wheelchair, and right now she’s in one of her bitter periods. She gets a call from Dick Grayson, the new Batman, who knows that there’s a new, and potentially inexperienced, Batgirl on patrol.

And what we have is the launch of a new book in the redefined Batman universe. Post-Battle for the Cowl, Gotham City looks very different. Dick Grayson, the former first Robin, the former Nightwing, now wears the cape and cowl. Damian, Bruce Wayne’s son, is now the fifth Robin. Tim Drake, mentioned above, is now jetsetting around the world, searching for clues that Bruce Wayne is still alive. Tommy Elliott is masquerading as Wayne, thanks to reconstructive surgery. Jason Todd, the second Robin, may well be dead again, after having gotten better. And there’s Kate Kane, the new Batwoman as well. Gotham City’s skyline is crowded now with capes and cowls.

Into this breach, we have a new Batgirl.

And, I’m intrigued.

Yes, I had some premise problems. And it’s not at all what I’d have done with Steph, who is in the top five DC characters I want to write, so there’s some natural resistance from me toward this development.

Yet, I had fun with the issue. It’s rather non-linear, the characterization of Steph is, despite the sudden aging of the character, fairly believable. The newer, bitterer Barbara Gordon was interesting. I think I see the eventual set-up — it’s going to be a bit Batman Beyond, with Barbara as the experienced Batgirl who can’t do the field work any longer in the background guiding and nurturing the new Batgirl in the suit.

So I hated it. And I liked it. I’ll be back for more. Because I do like Steph, and I always have. I don’t think this book will ever sell gangbusters, it may not last long, but it could be a fun ride while it lasts.

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