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Batgirl TP Vol 2 Paperback – 3 Mar 2016
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PRAISE FOR BATGIRL
"This is a must-buy series."--THE NEW YORK TIMES
"It's good to see Barbara Gordon kicking ass in the cowl again."--io9
"The BATGIRL title at DC has maybe never been better, under the creative team of Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr."--NERDIST
"Smart and chic, striking yet practical--a really good look in a medium that often puts women in outfits that look more appropriate for pinups than crime-fighters." --SHELF LIFE, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
About the Author
Cameron Stewart is the illustrator of BATMAN AND ROBIN, SEAGUY, SEVEN SOLDIERS: THE MANHATTAN GUARDIAN, THE OTHER SIDE, CATWOMAN and many more. He has been nominated for Shuster, Eagle, Harvey and Eisner Awards, and his original webseries Sin Titulo won the 2010 Eisner and Shuster Awards for Best Digital Comic. He is currently writing BATGIRL for DC Comics. Brenden Fletcher is a Canadian writer, best known for his work at DC Comics. He is currently co-writing the critically acclaimed bestelling series BATGIRL with Cameron Stewart, which has reinvigorated the franchise. Fletcher is also co-writing GOTHAM ACADEMY with Becky Cloonan, as well as the forthcoming BLACK CANARY.
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The nadir was the final issue **(spoilers)** where the most noteworthy plot point in Babs's life is that she is very stressed at being the maid of honour at a friend's wedding (the same friend who has been totally absent since Gail Simone's run, so why do we care about her wedding?). The genuinely brilliant DC character, Luke Fox, is relegated to being confused one-night-stand #4 in a random ten-second love triangle with Dick Grayson.
I am sure that people are still buying this because of Babs Tarr's utterly beautiful artwork, which just gets better (and I bet that she individually inked every single strand of hair on Dick Grayson's head and eyebrows because he seriously looked like he had some kind of angelic weaponised handsomness that isn't even there in Mikel Janin's work on "Grayson"). The other artists do try to complement Babs Tarr's style but are nowhere near as good as her.
It's worth making a quick comparison with "Grayson", another 2015 title created by controversially rebooting a beloved iconic character, into a new life, new environment, new friends, new lighter tone, new levels of absurdity in plot, but it works so much better than Batgirl because the writers are good, and they never compromise his character for the sake of style. There are a lot of diverse characters in Grayson too, but they are three-dimensional and have real agency in the plot, unlike the rotating wallpaper of Batgirl's friends Nadimah, Qadir, Alysia and even Frankie. (n.b. I obviously wouldn't recommend Grayson to girls/teens on account of the psychedelic ultra-violence and gratuitous beefcake, but thought that this was an apt comparison given the characters' shared continuity).
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I was, and still am, a fan of writer Gail Simone's run with Ardian Syaf and other artists. So when I read that co-writers Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher and artist Babs Tarr were promising a lighter tone in terms than both Simone's run and the companion Bat-titles, I was ready to walk away from "Batgirl" for good.
I'm glad I didn't.
Stewart and Fletcher do what no previous "Batgirl" writers ever did: give Batgirl and her civilian alter-ego, Barbara Gordon, a supporting cast that not only gives her people to interact with (Simone's run, by comparison, was one lengthy interior monologue) but also gives her ongoing title stability and a comforting familiarity. They include Alysia Yeoh, Barbara's ex-roommate from Simone's run; computer expert and proto-Oracle Frankie Charles; and Luke Fox, son of Bruce Wayne's right-hand man Lucius Fox and star of the short-lived "Batwing" title.
Tarr's manga-influenced artwork is at times too cartoony for my tastes, but she knows how to tell a story clearly and give her figures a sense of movement other artists never master. In addition, her style is a refreshing change from the house style of DC's other ongoing titles.
Stewart, also an artist, provides covers for each issue. He's one of the few artists working today who knows how to construct a cover that leaps out at readers from the crowded stands and scream "Buy me!"
As co-writer, he and Fletcher attempt in this volume's stories to integrate their Batgirl into the larger Bat-universe. They begin with a story teaming Batgirl with Scott Snyder's "robo-Batman"-her father, Jim Gordon-then move into a story featuring Dick Grayson, here a James Bond-style secret agent for an organization called SPYRAL, and his partner Helena Bertinelli. Also appearing in this collection's stories are Spoiler (whose past as Batgirl has been retconned out of DC Comics history), Batwoman, and the children from "Gotham Academy," which Fletcher writes solo. That may seem a lot of the Bat-world for one volume, but it allayed my fears that the Stewart/Fletcher/Tarr Batgirl would be divorced from it and stuffed in its own pocket world.
This volume's weakness is a story returning the Velvet Tiger, a villain introduced at the end of Batgirl's second run as back-feature in "Detective Comics" in the early eighties, to the fold. It begins well enough, with a friend of Barbara's being implicated in the deaths of three people killed by tigers at Luke's firm, Foxtek. The Velvet Tiger then kidnaps Alysia's fiance, Jo, as Jo attempts to rescue tigers bound for the Velvet Tiger's illegal private zoo. However, Stewart and Fletcher fail to explain the Tiger's ability to control tigers. That said, this Tiger's tale does serve as a callback to the past for the old farts such as myself who read this title, and Bengal is superb as a fill-in-artist for Tarr.
This second of three volumes of the inaugural "Burnside" era is ideal for fans of Batgirl, the entire Bat-family, and of good storytelling and art.