Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Batgirl #7

Cover by Ardian Syaf, Vicente Cifuentes, Ulises Arreola

Batgirl #7 (March 13, 2012)
Writer: Gail Simone
Penciller: Ardian Syaf, Alitha Martinez
Inker: Vicente Cifuentes
Colorists: Ulises Arreola
Letterer: Dave Sharpe

While I believe that Animal Man and Swamp Thing are the strongest books of the New 52, I still adore Batgirl. It’s well written, exciting and character-driven. Also, I will always love Barbara Gordon. ALWAYS.

Batgirl #7 has been one of my favorite issues of this series, not merely because it has an awesome fight sequence, a genuinely creepy and intriguing villain, and a perfect balancing between the personal and professional life of Barbara Gordon BUT because there’s a cameo by one of my other top favorite female super heroes: Black Canary.

I know we have Birds of Prey, which I also adore, but I sort of wish Black Canary and Batgirl had a duo book: fighting crime and trading quips and just generally being awesome and dynamic female characters. A girl can dream.

Until that comic book comes to fruition, I have Batgirl #7, which features the introduction of a gripping and eerie and for some reason, barefoot new villain, Grotesque, whose face is never seen and who speaks in a posh, vaguely formal manner. I kept imagining his voice to have a high faux-British accent. Perhaps I am projecting. Or perhaps I am watching too much Sherlock (is that even possible?).

Either way, this faceless madman has crashed a swanky party, killed a billionaire in front of dozens of witnesses and has the ability to absorb power from lighting sources. Furthermore, upon being demasked by Batgirl, he declares her “fascinating” and disappears. I really, really like him.

Batgirl, meanwhile, is still struggling with guilt over regaining mobility and insecurities in returning to her vigilante life. Under a lesser writer, Barbara’s complexities could have simply become maudlin and overbearing but Simone is adept at balancing a characters’ self-scrutiny. I also felt that her inclusion of Black Canary as both a sparring partner and a voice of reason was a clever way to shake Barbara out of her funk and also illustrate the profound friendship and trust between the two women. I always enjoy it when female characters support one another, rather than try to break each another down and Simone is so awesome at this.

The art by Syaf and Martinez is one of my favorites in comic books right now, though I do find it having moments of inconsistency. Characters, particularly Barbara’s mother, seem to change slightly from issue to issue and it can be a little distracting. Within this actual issue, however, I loved the art just as much as I loved the story.

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