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Batgirl Darkest Reflection (The New 52) - Book Review

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by Jennifer Muirhead (subscribe)
I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma. ~ Eartha Kitt www.femlitica.com jennifermuirhead.wordpress.com/
Published April 21st 2013
Batgirl, comics, the new 52, Batman, Gotham, Batgirl Darkest Reflection


Barbara Gordon retired from her vigilante ways after being shot by The Joker and left paralysed. In the rebooted DC Universe Barbara Gordon has recovered and is able to walk again. Despite medical advice and the worries of her father, police commissioner Gordon, and her mentors, Batman and Nightwing (formerly Robin), she resumes her role as Batgirl, fighting to keep Gotham City's streets safe. She has to juggle this secret life with the more mundane problems of starting out again as the newly able bodied Barbara Gordon, such as finding herself a new apartment and looking for work. This collection of the first few issues of the new Batgirl title shows the heroine finding her feet (no pun intended) and trying to make it on her own without the help of the men in her life.

In Volume 1, The Darkest Reflection, Batgirl faces a new villain called The Mirror, who is systematically hunting down and killing people he has never even met according to a list he has compiled using his own twisted logic. Both Batgirl and her alter ego Barbara are on that list and she needs to stop The Mirror before he can stop her. Later issues collected in this volume also feature a new enemy called Gretel, who is able to influence the minds of men and drive them to violence and who has a mysterious fixation with the number "338".

Batgirl is one of very few DC titles that is written by a woman (Gail Simone, who has previously worked on Wonder Woman, Secret Six and Birds of Prey), and that might be the reason the character comes across so well as a whole person, rather than a male fantasy. Batgirl is a more flawed, vulnerable hero than Wonder Woman. While she is athletic, trained in classical ballet and practised at hand to hand combat and leaping from rooftop to rooftop, she often makes mistakes or overestimates her own abilities. At one point she accidentally swings into the side of a taxi, to the great annoyance of the driver. The first time she has a gun pointed at her after recovering from her illness she panics and freezes, remembering her own near fatal shooting. She is then forced to watch as the man she was trying protect is killed in front of her.

Gordon also feels like something of a failure in her ordinary life. She faces problems including her stalled love life, her difficult relationship with her estranged mother and not having the necessary experience for the job she wants but finding her degree makes her overqualified for other jobs she applies for. This last part is a little more realism than I like in my comics, so I was glad when Batgirl got back to the pure escapism of chasing down bad guys and throwing Batarangs at them.

The art is dynamic and interesting, though I am getting a bit tired of the close up shots of someone being punched in the face with blood and spit spraying everywhere, that seem to be the in thing in DC comics at the moment. Unlike many female superheroes, Batgirl's costume actually covers her entire body, which is refreshing and presumably would be a lot more practical than leaping around at night in your underwear.

The story line is solid, the art is decent and Batgirl's flawed nature makes her a very relatable hero. Volume 1 The Darkest Reflection is a promising start to the new adventures of Batgirl, and I will probably check out future issues.

Rated: 7/10
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