Friday, October 4, 2013

Batgirl, Volume 1: The Darkest Reflection

Wow, was that disappointing.

 Gail Simone has done some stellar work on DC's BIRDS OF PREY and SECRET SIX, so I was looking forward to reading her take on Batgirl, especially since she had made Barbara Gordon such a compelling character in BIRDS OF PREY.

 First off, Barbara is no longer confined to a wheelchair. The timeline of "The New 52" is driving me nuts, because Bruce Wayne is only supposed to have been Batman for about six years, but DC wasn't really willing to commit to a full reboot, so he's only been Batman for a short time, yet he's still had a slew of Robins, he raised Dick Grayson, who is probably around the same age as Batman in this new universe, he's been broken by Bane and recovered, Batgirl has been shot by The Joker and recovered...it's been a busy six years. Anyway, the timeline drives me nuts. Was Barbara ever Oracle? It's not clear from this volume....no mention is made, at least not yet.

 Simone unwisely uses her first six issues to introduce two incredibly uninteresting new villains: The Mirror and Gretel. Both are good people done wrong, who decide that wanton death and destruction are good ways to follow up on the bad hand that life has dealt them. As a plot device, this always bothered me. Put this in a real-life context, and you'll see how ludicrous it is: Imagine if a close relative was killed, and that loss drove your Mother to become a Super Villain. Well, it's just as ridiculous here, times two. I could probably buy The Mirror, maybe.....He was a war hero, so I can see how he could physically stack up to Batgirl, but Gretel...? Getting shot in the head gives her the power to control men's minds? Sloppy and lazy.

 This is probably my least favorite Gail Simone book. She's always been hit-or-miss for me, with even her misses being at least semi-enjoyable, but this was just awful. It took me forever to slog through the six issues collected in BATGIRL, VOLUME 1: THE DARKEST REFLECTION, and if it wasn't for the attractive art by Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes, I'd call this a complete disaster.

 BATGIRL, VOLUME 1: THE DARKEST REFLECTION collects issues 1-6 of BATGIRL, complete with covers and a small sketch gallery by Jim Lee, Ardian Syaf, and Adam Hughes. I already bought Volume 2...it's gotta be better than this, right....?