Writers: Becky Cloonen and Michael W. Conrad
Art: Jorge Corona, Sarah Stern, and Becca Carey
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: December 15th, 2021
Batgirls#1 kicks off with Barbara Gordon, Cassandra Cain, and Stephanie Brown arriving at their new home on the other side of Gotham, which pretty much is the same as any side of Gotham: grungy, crime-ridden, and with trash rolling in all directions like tumbleweeds. But when you’re moving to a new place, who cares? A change of zip code is always thrilling, no matter how many times the hot water in the shower instantly turns freezing and the cabinet knobs fall off.
Writers Becky Coonan and Michael W. Conrad wonderfully convey Cassandra and Stephanie’s excitement with their new locale, and it’s great to see the two out of costume and just being crazy teenagers, even if Stephanie’s idea of crazy is far different from Cassandra’s. This was the highlight of the issue for me, seeing the pair adjust to their new digs and take a “Booksmart” style jaunt around the city.
Barbara Gordon, on the other hand, seems out of character here, acting more like a clueless mom from an old sitcom than the master detective and analyst she is. I’ve been a fan of Batgirl since I saw Yvonne Craig throwing ballet kicks and zooming around on her motorcycle on the 60’s Batman show, and even that watered-down version of Batgirl wouldn’t be this out of touch. Hopefully, as the series rolls on, they’ll give Barbara her groove back, because a hamstrung Barbara is a waste of a great character.
The overarching theme of Batgirls #1 is Barbara and the kids trying to hide out from the Seer, who appears to be an evil version of Barbara’s Oracle identity, and I’m sure that threat will be amplified in the future, but I feel like it would have made more sense had Barbara and the kids went to a cabin in the middle of the South somewhere to hide out, rather than just another section of Gotham. But then we would have had “Batgirls in Green Acres”, and who wants to read that?
Jorge Corona’s art for Batgirls #1 reminded me of Bill Sienkiewicz’s style, with the figures being drawn in an almost impressionistic way. I’m not a huge fan of that art style but paired with Sarah Stern’s colors, it brings an “Aeon Flux” feel to the book, especially in the action scenes. The art is at its best in the details of the city, the clutter and peeling walls ever-present in the background of many of the scenes.
Batgirls #1 establishes a new location and mostly sets aside any plot to give Cassandra and Stephanie time to shine. It’s not an explosive premiere, but it puts all the pieces in place, and I hope we get to see more of this area of Gotham, along with improved handling of Barbara Gordon, in future issues.