Now that the dust has settled on BATGIRL WEEK, here’s our REVIEW of one of the year’s most anticipated comics.
I expected Batgirl #35 to be different. Different from the first 34 (or so) issues. Different from most of the rest of the New 52.
What I didn’t expect is just how different.
Batgirl #35 is an utterly radical departure from what we’ve come to expect from the behemoth publisher and is the most forward-thinking, in-continuity book the company has put out in decades.
Now, I’m not putting it on the level of a Batman: Year One or Swamp Thing or Animal Man or any of those titles that broke or recast the mold in the revolutionary 1980s.
But what I am saying is that, like those books, Batgirl #35 is for an entirely new audience: Younger, hipper and, especially in this case, more gender-neutral.
Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr and Brenden Fletcher — with a big cowl-tip to color artist Maris Wicks — have created a book so soaked in social media and millennial culture, I almost expected Scott Pilgrim to come wandering through the party at Barbara’s new apartment and ask if he could crash there.
If you’ve been complaining that DC only publishes comics for teenaged boys and middle-aged men, then this is the one that shatters that notion. Now, it may remain an anomaly but if it’s as successful as it looks like it’ll be, it could mean a whole new way for the company to look at many of its characters and give rise to a more stylistically diverse line-up of superhero books.
Drunken hook-ups, annoying roommates, your superhero best friend who shows up unexpectedly and is all kinds of on your nerves — these aren’t revolutionary ideas in and of themselves. But the ease with which this world is presented — with tight, expressive and low-key artwork, complete with realistic settings and fashions — makes it something fresh and attractive. Especially since the storytelling is so naturalistic and not written by people who think women are always saying things like “Listen, Girl.” This is an indie comic in DC wrapping.
And the best part is you can just pick it right up.
The plot? Mostly it’s establishing Barbara’s new world, but the crime du jour feeds on that very basic, 20-something paranoia: Somebody’s stealing smartphones and laptops and there’s a bad guy who likes to upload nasty stuff without people’s permission.
Not exactly another breakout at Arkham Asylum — to the issue’s eternal credit.
Now, the funny thing is I didn’t really connect with the book all that well. But I’m actually OK with that. It’s not really written for me. And if this gets more people reading this kind of comic, if this crosses into other audiences, then I’m all for it.
Batgirl, whose baby are you? You may not be mine anymore but I’m willing to share you with a whole bunch of new people.
Here’s a guide to our recent BATGIRL WEEK coverage:
— Young Heroes in Love: Batgirl: Year One co-writer Scott Beatty‘s tribute to Batgirl and Robin’s star-crossed relationship.
— New Look BATGIRL: Who She Is and How She Came to Be — a wide-ranging interview with the new creative team of Babs Tarr, Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher.
— Hey, Look! It’s BATGIRL — For Real! A profile of cosplayer extraordinaire Mae “Kessel Run” Morrison.
— Rock Out to BE MY BATGIRL! A rocking tune about everyone’s favorite Dominoed Daredoll by the band Clashing Plaid, including an interview with lead singer Anthony Porter.