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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Batgirl of Burnside

Although I don't invest as much time or money in comics as I used to, I still like to check in on them now and again. I had heard good things about the reboot of Batgirl, as part of D.C.'s "New 52" series. The first six issues are collected in Batgirl, Volume 1, Batgirl of Burnside.

Batgirl was first created in 1961, but the Batgirl we know and love, Barbara Gordon, daughter of Police Commissioner Gordon, debuted in 1967. Almost immediately she was a part of the camp TV series, played by leggy Yvonne Craig. Other than surfacing in the film lamentable film Batman and Robin, played by Alicia Silverstone, Batgirl has not had much media representation, but she's been plugging away in the comics.

In reading about the set-up to this series, she had been paralyzed after being shot by the Joker in Alan Moore's The Killing Joke. In Batgirl of Burnside, she has been cured by experimental surgery, and is attending college in the hipster community of Burnside (I think all major cities have a section like this--for New York, it's Williamsburg). Her powers, such as they are, are martial arts, computer genius, and an eidetic memory. At one point she is able to reconstruct the events at a party walking through the room and visualizing everyone there.

Written by Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart, with art by Babs Tarr, Batgirl of Burnside puts the superhero in the middle of contemporary society, most notably social media. A website called Hooq, which is some sort of dating side, probably like Tinder, is at the forefront. Through this site Batgirl receives threats, and she is attacked by several underlings of a villain that seems to know her identity (they include the wonderfully named Dagger Type, an artist). Eventually she figures out that the villain is herself, a brain scan inside a computer that has gone sentient, and wants to wipe out all crime (this is similar to the character of Ultron in Marvel).

This is a breezy, fun read. The only other D.C. character of note who shows is Dinah Prince, aka Black Canary--no Batman in sight, although he looms as a presence. The artwork is well done, but man do they make Batgirl awful skinny--it's hard to believe she can pack any power in her punches or leg kicks. Of course she is also sexy, and starts dating a cop who doesn't know she's Batgirl, and thinks that Batgirl is a vigilante who should be locked up.

With the prevalence of comic book characters on TV, perhaps a Batgirl series is in order. They tried something similar several years ago with Birds of Prey, which didn't go over well, but with Supergirl being a hit, why not?

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