New 52 – Batgirl #0 review

As you can see by the cover, this issue is about Batgirl clumsily toppling forward because her boobs are so big.

All kidding aside, the art in this book is nice. Gorgeous, actually. This is especially true in the final pages where we see Batgirl in her original costume made up of a blue cape and a ponytail instead of a cowl. I honestly think I like this look better! As usual, Ulises Arreola brings his usual vibrant color palette and makes Batgirl stand out from all the other bat-titles.

However, while this book has some pretty pictures it failed to deliver on what the solicits promised. Granted, these things are released months ahead of time and are often wrong, but when I saw that this issue was going to be about how Barbara became Batgirl AND how she recovered from her crippling spinal injury– I was hooked. Sadly, you’re only getting half of what was advertised. All of the spinal recovery stuff, toss that out of your mind right now and lower your expectations accordingly. Those answers won’t be found in issue #0.

Instead, this story focuses entirely on the Batgirl origin, which makes more sense what with every other series rewinding several years as well so I guess it was foolish of me to think they’d cover the recovery days. What you get to see is Babs as a young, ambitious teen. She loves the ballet, training in the martial arts, and books– she might not be a librarian anymore but her room is littered with books. I was pleased that the words “eidetic memory” were not used. I always hated that aspect of the character. The great thing about Batgirl was that she was just a regular girl who worked really, really hard. Once you give her perfect recall, she’s basically got a superpower and not every little girl can pretend she can be Batgirl one day. At least that’s how I see it.

So here we get a brief gloss-over of how she became so graceful and where she learned how to fight and then the meat of the story takes place in a tour of the GCPD gone wrong and oddly enough James Jr. is with her on the tour as well (I guess there was nobody available–or willing–to watch the little creep). He does absolutely nothing in the story but, you guessed it, act creepy.

If the main baddie had been more than simply a big bald guy with bad dialogue then maybe it would’ve held my interest more, but to be honest I actually found myself nodding off a few times while reading this. I would’ve rather seen her go toe to toe with a lesser, known villain so Batman could’ve been illegitimately impressed. Maxie Zeus? Killer Moth? Zsasz? Anybody would’ve made for a more fun story. When it came time for Batgirl to put on the mask and prove her worth, there were way too many thought boxes on every panel. There comes a time when you need to let the action speak for itself and Barbara’s narration is way too chatty. It’s a running problem in this series. We’re always getting an update on how nervous/happy/scared she is or how amazed she is that she actually landed a punch. Trusting the artist to get that point across in the expression on the character’s face is almost always the best way to go.

And how is Officer Dwight not going to die? Barbara ran away to suit up in the GCPD’s makeshift bat costume when Officer Dwight was getting his skull bashed into the floorboards. When we come back to the bad guy he’s storming into a new room and Officer Dwight is nowhere to be seen. She didn’t save him. As far as the bad guy was concerned, that cop was as good as dead and it was time to move on. I get the symbolism of her putting on the suit, but all she needed were the nightsticks and she could’ve beaten this guy. And what happened to the bad guy’s army of zealots? Are we to assume Batman or the cops took care of them? It was a pretty heavy situation and everything is instantly okay once she knocks the bad guy out.

Overall, I found this issue to be pretty dull and it actually raised more questions than it answered. We see her dress up in a makeshift Batgirl costume and get a head nod from Batman, but what about after that? How did she become a part of Batman’s team? The final pages give a quick montage of what happened after that fateful day at the GCPD (except for how Batman let her in the group) and shows that Batgirl retired prior to The Killing Joke but she doesn’t explain why, “Story for another time.” she says. Of course, Barbara definitely was retired back in the old continuity before Alan Moore wrote The Killing Joke— but I don’t remember why that was and now I wonder why she would want to be Batgirl now when she wanted to leave the mantle behind then. Oh well. I thought it was a pretty weak installment of Batgirl, which is a shame because I was looking forward to this zero issue the most.

SCORE: 5/10