Sunday, October 03, 2010

Batgirl by Brian Q. Miller, Lee Garbett and Trevor Scott

Stephanie Brown isn't unused to the heroing business. She fought crime on her own as the Spoiler, and took over as Batman's sidekick, Robin, for a while, but now she's decided to break out on her own as the new Batgirl, fighting crime by night even as she lives the life of a college freshman by day.

Needless to say, no one is really happy with Stephanie. Not Oracle, who used to be the original Batgirl before she was crippled, or Batman and his new boy wonder, Robin, who happens to be his son by Talia Ra's Al Ghul. But as Stephanie fights her way through Gotham's Underworld, she slowly gains converts and friends. First Oracle, then Robin and Batman himself.

But Stephanie has more problems than just supervillains like Scarecrow. She also has to live up to her Mom's expectations, and they don't include being a superhero. Her mom wants her to be a student and do well in college- not to stay up all night fighting crime and barely have the energy to drag herself out of bed and to her classes the next day.

But Stephanie wants to do all those things, even if trying kills her. But when a woman named Roulette sets up Batman- Dick Grayson, to die, Stephanie has to step in and come to his rescue before things get completely out of hand. But can she save Batman while she herself is suffering from a concussion or a gunshot wound?

And then there is her mother, a physician who works at the local hospital. When Stephanie is injured, can she stay away, or at least have her mother not recognize her at the hospital? And can she convince her mother that she is okay and not going out fighting crime at night as her mother has asked her not to do? Her mother fears for Stephanie's safety, but can Stephanie keep her new life and activities secret from her Mom?

I liked this book. I like how Stephanie started out with some powers but was generally clueless about crimefighting, and how she had to take instruction from Oracle, among others, to really get the crimefighting portion of her duties down solid. I already hate the new Robin, so I didn't care so much about her rivalry/infighting with him except to think that they were like squabbling siblings, and how none of that was welcome. Yeah, it's fun, but I enjoyed the parts where she gets the upper hand because I despise Damian. :P

But this book is more than about Stephanie. It's also about the first Batgirl, Barbara Gordon, now known as Oracle. Barbara was Batgirl until she was paralyzed from the waist down, and in addition to first being angry with Stephanie for stealing the identity of Batgirl, she has to take the girl under her wing and help the perpetual screw-up to stay alive. And then there is another girl who was also deprived of the use of her legs that Barbara wants to connect with and help, but the girl is seemingly too mired in anger and fear of what she lost to look forward to what she might become. And then her father decides to step in and help her with her love life...

I enjoyed the witty banter and the screw-up superheroine who is trying to do good and become effective as a crime fighter, and it's unusual to have a Bat-family hero or heroine being so vivacious and bubbly and good natured. It's like being close to Batman automatically injects you with grimdark and you become humorless and dark by nature. Well, Stephanie is an antidote to that, and she succeeds in winning over both Oracle and Dick Grayson (and yes, Damian, too). It's a feelgood comic, and I enjoyed it a lot. The art is crisp and clean, and it's not your usual bat-fare. Recommended.

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