Batgirl: Gail Simone, Ed Benes, Ulises Arreola, Dave Sharpe
Perfection. This is an outstanding issue, and - easily - my favorite of the title so far. What Gail does here is so brilliant, so identifiably “Batgirl,” that it’s hard to compare it to anything that’s come before. This is mainly because there hasn’t been anything quite like this before. This book aims to encompass everything that is Barbara Gordon, and it does that about five times over.
I can’t believe I wasn’t excited about this issue. Like, I knew that this was Zero Month, and we were getting all these backstories, but I honestly didn’t even think about Batgirl once. Surprising, given how eager I was to learn how her story went in the DCnU. I thought this Zero Issue would take place more recently, and explain the whole Oracle mystery…but this ish doesn’t even touch that word once. Not even as a hint or Easter egg.
Instead, we’re told the timeline of Barbara, Batgirl, and Oracle all at the same time. How? Well, just read it and find out. But basically, the book takes place all through Batgirl’s history, starting with her putting on a costume for the first time.
I really liked James Jr. in this issue, because it’s as much an origin for him as it is for Babs. There are so many hints dropped at his true nature, and what he grows up to be. The serial killer, Harry X, in this issue recognizes it, and mentions it a couple times. Calls him an “abomination,” even.
The whole sequence with Babs fighting Harry X had me smiling SO HARD. And the following pages, with a special appearance by a surprise guest, were just the tastiest icing on the best cake ever.
Speaking of tasty, Ed Benes - now off his title Red Lanterns - delivers some pretty awesome artwork. I thought he did a great job of bringing these younger characters to life, Babs and James Jr.. There was only one panel in which I was confused. Where Officer Dwight calls Barbara “intense,” and she later says, “There’s that word again,” there’s a narration box and dialog in between that makes me wonder if the bubbles and boxes are out of order somehow. It’s just cut up strangely, to me. And Babs also says she has “weak flirt fu.” What’s “fu?” I didn’t understand that. There’s one page where we see Batgirl, Batman, and Robin all together. I LOVED this page. Great imagery. Though Batman’s face looks a little too Liefeld-y for me. Still good stuff, though.
But I think the best part of the issue was the ending. That last page. HO WOW. That was the perfect ending, thus providing us with the complete timeline for Barbara: Batgirl, Oracle, and Batgirl again. It completed the picture. Perfection.
Batgirl #0, the verdict: NICE JOB. For a book I had to put down because I wasn’t feeling excited about it month after month, I found this issue to be super compelling, full of character, and extremely enlightening in terms of the histories of these characters. Each one was fully developed and had their moment to shine. Each character felt complete and motivated in the right way. Simone does a great job of giving the readers exactly what they want from an origin story. Perfectly executed. Benes’ art is great, and he shows us some really iconic imagery that I just gobbled up. Great work from them both.
(Photo Source: DC Comics)