It’s here, one of the titles I’ve been asking for almost since the moment I fell headlong into Batman comics. Batgirls! At long last we are being gifted a title featuring not one, not two, but all three Batgirls together on their very own adventure.
It’s safe to say I’m very excited for this series, and I’m not the only one. There’s quite a few members of the Batman-News review team who are equally delighted by the existence of this series. So, as a first issue how does this stack up to those enormous expectations?
It was a lot of fun.
I’m serious. I got about three pages in and found myself going “Oh, oh my. I love this.” That’s not to say the issue is perfect, it’s not, there are some problems here. However, as a introduction to a series I’ve been looking forward to for years, it hits a ton of the right notes and does it in a way that is delightful. And that’s exactly what a title like Batgirls should be. These are characters who belong in the light, who should be having a ton of fun protecting the city they love, and Becky Cloonan & Michael W. Conrad do an excellent job setting up just that kind of story.
The issue is mostly focused on introducing us to the Batgirls and setting them up in their new home on The Hill. Cloonan and Conrad do a good job opening up with a brief introduction of Seer –a character who seems to be the main antagonist– and then jumping right into the core of the story: The Batgirls moving into their new home and the activities of their first day or so there. They’re busy trying to set up after their last base of operations, the Clocktower, was blown up. A lot of this involves moving in, putting together Oracle’s new network, and getting the girls settled into new vehicles and the like.
And it’s here that my first big issue with the book comes up. It relies heavily on context centered outside this book. The Clocktower blowing up, Seer’s introduction, and the Batgirls battling it out with Magistrate goons all took place outside this book yet the story wants you to have read it coming in. There’s narration and authors notes designed to point you in the direction of that context, but not everyone coming in is going to have read those books, and frankly just telling me what happened is really not a solid way to open a book. And unfortunately the majority of that information is told through narration. It’s funny and sharp narration, but there is also So. Much. Narration. scattered through the book.
More than that, most people are going to see Batgirls issue #1 and think it’s a great place to jump in and explore a new adventure. While we’ve had Batgirl books before this is the first one featuring all three ladies who’ve carried the mantle. Naturally it’s going to draw in new and old fans, meaning accessibility is something it should take into consideration. And there are parts of this book that do not feel easily accessible to new readers, or even those who have missed the last month or two of comics. So it’s a bit disappointing coming in feeling like I’m about 30 minutes into a movie or I missed the pilot episode.
But enough about what it doesn’t have, lets look at what I loved about it, because for all my complaining I do love a ton of what Batgirls is doing. Once you step past some of the lingering questions of context, the story does a great job setting up each of the main characters here: Barbara, Cassandra, and Stephanie.
All three have their own personalities starting to peek through in issue one. Babs is quickly made out to be the most responsible of the group, with the story going so far as to show her using a World’s Best Dad mug and being disappointed when the kids stay out too late. Steph’s got an interest in the arts and one street artist in particular. Cass is the rebel, and doesn’t take no for an answer. These are good, clear, foundations for the characters to help make them stand out from each other–which is a great accessibility move for any new readers unfamiliar with one or two of them. While they might seem like one note characteristics I’ve laid out, the story also does a good job filling in other portions of their characters, and I’m sure as the series continues we’ll see more and more from each of them.
As a group they work really well together too. Things like the bright banter while they’re moving in, dealing with the empty pantry that comes with a fresh move, and Barbara’s genuine concern for the girls when they’re late back it’s clear that this trio not only likes each other, but has great chemistry together. They’re also so funny. You’ve got situations like Steph and Cass balking at Barbara’s choice for transportation, and moments where the girls are terribly noisy about their neighbors and gossiping together. The dynamic is just what I look for in a group book, because you can tell how much like like spending time with each other.
The book is just as visually fun as it is textually. Jorge Corona’s art, and Sarah Stern’s colors work hand in hand to create a visual aesthetic that fits the vibe of the story perfectly. It’s vibrant, energetic, and exciting, but also knows when to slow down a bit and let readers take in quieter moments and details. Corona specifically adds a lot of energy into the art with how sharp lines are and by creating big scenes that have a lot of movement going on in them.
Stern’s colors on the other hand are a great balance of darker shades through with these absolutely stunning pops of bright neon colors here and there to make scenes pop and moments really stand out. One of my favorites is this moment where Stephanie stops to admire the latest street painting by Tutor.
By the end of this issue I found myself fully invested in the Batgirls’ newest adventures. Things wrap up with an exciting cliffhanger that promises an expansion on some of the mysteries we’ve already seen, and introduces a whole new one to the mix. I am very interested in seeing where all this goes next.
- Like me you’ve been literally asking for this book for years
- Steph, Cass, and Babs make a dynamite trio you don’t want to miss
- The aesthetic is utterly delightful, and perfect to pull you in
- You want a book that is utterly, genuinely, delightful
As an opening issue, Batgirls hits many of the right notes. It’s a fun and exciting story featuring three characters I’ve been dying to see more of for a really long time now. The aesthetic is gorgeous, the story is funny, and sets a strong foundation for the rest of this series with a variety of mysteries and character moments. Despite some of my reservations about the whole context of the narrative, it’s still something I’d heartily recommend to any Batgirl fan out there.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.