Sunday, April 22, 2012

Batgirl #5, #6

Cover by Adam Hughes

Batgirl #5 (January 11, 2012) Batgirl #6 (February 8, 2012)
Writer: Gail Simone
Penciller: Ardian Syaf
Inker: Vicente Cifuentes
Colorist: Ulises Arreola
Letterer: Dave Sharpe

I’ve wanted to write about these issues for a very long time now but between work, graduate papers, and exams, I never felt like I had the time to fully sit down and express myself clearly.

Now that I do have some free time, I’m not quite sure what I wanted to say.

I know these issues are months old already but they’ve stuck with me from my first readings, which, what with my rapid consumption of comic books, is quite a feat. I’ve been rather lukewarm on the recent Batgirl run (most likely from still mourning the loss of Oracle) but I’ve noticed that the storylines have steadily improved with each issue.

To be perfectly frank, the first Batgirl villain in this run, the Mirror, was pretty forgettable. I was never given a chance to really understand him or even care about his actions. Furthermore, his reasoning behind his crimes was quite melodramatic. That’s what I was so grateful for the introduction of Gretel in Batgirl #5.

She’s mysterious, eerie and thoroughly dangerous. In her introductory panels, she has more depth than the Mirror ever had and still manages to confuse the hell out of both Batgirl and the reader. Simone piqued our curiosity as to just who this mysterious woman is and why she acts so strangely. Her involvement with Bruce Wayne was also a fun twist and handled deftly by Simone. Indeed, the first appearance of Bruce Wayne in this Batgirl run was quite unlike any other I’ve seen in a while. Also, as Batgirl #6 did so well, it was just great to see Bruce Wayne from another character’s perspective.

Cover by Adam Hughes
Here’s the thing: I love Batman so much that I often forget that Bruce Wayne even exists. As a lot of critics and fans have pointed out, Bruce Wayne is the mask Batman wears, not vice versa. Therefore, to see Barbara Gordon look at Batman and see Bruce the man first was pretty alarming but also refreshing. She managed to make me like the guy rather than just regard him as an emotionally damaged psychopath (I mean, he still is, don’t get me wrong, but he was surprisingly human in this issue).

A great deal of Batgirl #6, and the main reason why I enjoyed it so much, focused on the relationship between Batman and Batgirl. I’m so used to see contention between members of the Bat-family that it was a surprise to see two working together, trusting, respecting and loving one another.

Their mutual battle against Gretel was well written and suspenseful. Gretel is a solid villain with a sympathetic and three-dimensional backstory. Unlike the Mirror, she felt genuine. Furthermore, it was just great to see two of my favorite comic book characters work together in solving a mystery and stopping a criminal. I hope to see more of Batman and Batgirl together in upcoming issues.

Also (and I totally blame Syaf for drawing these panels), but this moment below is one of the hottest moments I have ever seen in a comic book. I don’t even ship Bruce and Barbara (does anyone?) but this handholding scene made me go weak at the knees.

Fangirl Mode: Activated.
The only real complaint I have with these issues is the subplot of Barbara’s mother’s return. I just don’t care about this. I know Simone has tricks up her sleeve and nothing in Gotham is ever as straightforward as it appears to be but nonetheless, Barbara’s mother is just annoying. This entire subplot has been maudlin and cloying so far.

Also, I’m still on the fence on Syaf’s art. Sometimes I think it’s really strong and other times, it’s just mediocre. I find that he tends to draw all his women with the exact same face (Barbara’s mother looks exactly like her daughter, which is a little weird). Other than these two elements, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this turn the Batgirl run has taken and often find myself re-reading these issues. Also, I want a poster of the Batgirl #6 cover. Where can I get one?


  1. Syaf is new to this, I guess. Probably he'll improve over time.

    By the way, I really liked what you wrote about New Deadwardians. In my opinion, that is the best of the new Vertigo titles, I enjoyed it so much that I decided to review the first issue. If you want to check it out here's my blog:


    1. Thank you so much for reading and your thoughtful comment!

      I also greatly enjoyed your review of The New Deadwardians, particularly your drawing in the theories of Žižek and Lacan. I'm always happy to see theorists applied to comic books and graphic novels.

      I think I still enjoy American Vampire better than New Deadwardians but I honestly haven't had a chance to read any other issues besides #1. I shall have to rectify that as soon as possible.