Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: Ardian Syaf, Vicente Cifuentes, and Ulises Arreola
Cover Artist: Adam Hughes
Barbara Gordon has never been known to take shit from anyone, and now that she’s Batgirl again, she isn’t planning on starting now. Her first stint back on the job has her facing off against the Mirror, a broken man whose wife and kids died in a car accident that left him alive. Unable to stand the survivor’s guilt, he’s made it his mission to kill off any other miraculous survivors. While the character itself is fairly basic, I thought what he represents, who he is, was an excellent choice for the first arc in this book. He’s a large, powerful guy, which proves to be a physical test for newly healed Batgirl, but his stand against miracles is an even greater test for Barbara, who is clearly battling some survivor’s guilt of her own. Without a doubt, this was the strongest issue of the series so far. The writing and characterizations are extremely well done, and the art is looking fantastic.
So while we were promised an early explanation of how she got her ability to walk once again, we’re finally getting that explanation. Unfortunately for me, it’s a strange one. Some mysterious operation? Really? Why not just have Zatana work her magic? Or why not Dr. Mid-Nite and Mr. Terrific, who were able to reattach Catwoman’s heart? I think with all that is available to Batman, this route, with the information we’ve been given, seems a bit sketchy. That being said, this does nothing to take away from the current story at hand. 3.5/5
If I was in charge of the award for biggest turn around in four issues, this series would win, hands down. This story has evolved from the jumble of words and images that was the first issue, into a compelling, thrilling series. Bruce, for the first time it would appear (though more on this later), has to deal with the contrast of being Batman and raising a child, and unfortunately for him, that child is two murders away from being a full blown psychopath. With a little bit of help from their Bat gadgets, Batman and Robin are rescued from Nobody by Alfred. And while this would usually be a reason for celebration, it does little more than drive a wedge between Bruce and Damian, or so they would like us to believe.
Peter Tomasi is doing an excellent job writing Bruce, Damian, and Alfred. The action aside, this series is very much about the relationship between father, son, and grandpa Pennyworth. Personally, from my experience with the character, I can’t imagine Damian double-crossing Bruce in any way. If anything, I think this is the perfect chance for Damian to try and prove himself to Batman, who he obviously thinks doesn’t have faith in him. The one thing about this that rubs me the wrong way, is that it’s written where Damian is the first kid Bruce has raised. Now I know that this is the new DCU, post Flashpoint and all that, but I feel like all that accomplishes is that it cheapens Bruce’s relationships with all the previous Robins, who all had originally come to him between the ages of 8 and 12. But I can’t fault that load of crap on this book, which is making the strange timeline work extremely well in its favor. 4/5
Writers: J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman
Artists: J.H. Williams III and Dave Stewart
Cover Artists: J.H. Williams III and Dave Stewart
Under no circumstances am I one of those guys that wants to see superheroes killed off left and right. However, there was a big part of me that was totally bummed out when they revealed that Flamebird was alive. The opening spreads were done so remarkably well on all creative fronts. The juxtaposition of the violence with the tender love scenes was absolutely riveting. The lyrical rhythm from spread to spread is unparalleled in any other book. I’ve mentioned it before, but along with J.H. Williams III’s art, Dave Stewart’s colors set the tone for the entire book. With just the slightest change in hue, the slightest addition of color here or there, he manipulates the reader’s emotions just as easily and effectively as the story itself. Like I previously mentioned, I wanted to see Flamebird be dead, not because I don’t like the character -I actually find her to be quite charming and a nice parallel to Batwoman’s stonewall, rough personality – but because everything in the tone of the story, from the writing to the art, made it seem like something tragic would occur. If anything, I’d say it’s a testament to the creative team that they’ve crafted such a remarkable book that I actually want one of my characters to die.
The only criticism I have of this book, and it’s not a very big one, is that the big case about the missing children and the Weeping Woman doesn’t really seem to be going anywhere. I know it doesn’t technically need to be a driving point in the story, but we’re now four issues in and I can’t tell if there’s supposed to be one big bad, with a bunch of little bad, or if the intent is for there to be two or three major villains making their move all at once. This isn’t really a problem that comes up while reading the issues, but rather something that comes up as an afterthought. 4.5/5
As a longtime Superboy fan, a part of me is enjoying this new take on the character. I think it brings a nice layer of intrigue and excitement to his overall story. The issue starts off with Superboy nearly getting his head ripped off by “Red,” but he uses a bit of quick thinking to knock her out. I feel like maybe that scene played out too fast, but at the same time I know she’ll be back, so it was really more like a nifty little preview of what is to come. I thought it was interesting the way that Superboy’s first encounter with the Meta’s is what eventually changes his mind about joining the side of evil. That makes his first encounter with Wonder Girl even more interesting, because we all know they had a long relationship at one point in time. Scott is doing a really great job setting up the youth side to this new DC, and he’s been doing it really well.
There is another part of me, however, that just wants him to be good already and to be best friends with Tim and Bart. In recent years what has made this character so captivating is his interaction with his friends, the community, and the world in general. And while that may once again happen here, I feel like it is a long way off. 4/5
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