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Batgirl (Rebirth, Vol. 4): Strange Loop

An unseasonal snowstorm brings an unexpected clean-up and good cheer ally to Burnside: the Penguin! He’s reformed and looking to clean up his image in order to run for mayor. But Batgirl finds he’s being a little too effective at persuading the citizens of Gotham that he’s a good guy. What is he really up to? Then, in a freak occurrence, Babs finds herself trapped inside her own mind: in a dream of her own deepest desires. It’s too good to be true. Can she escape, or does she even want to?

This run keeps firing on all cylinders and does not once slow down. We keep swinging from story to story with nary a breather. Besides the two main stories above, there are also two shorter ones in this volume. Four in one trade paper – that’s impressive, but even more impressive is how exciting all the action still is even at the end.

That’s not to say there isn’t any introspection or soul-searching in this volume or run, because there definitely is! When Babs is trapped inside her own mind, she questions whether or not this fantasy she’s living out is better than her real life, and whether or not it’s worth it to continue being Batgirl. Hope Larson continues to be a top-notch Batgirl author.

The art, while it’s become less stylized and graphic since the beginning Burnside title, keeps the feel of the Burnside aesthetic – pretty impressive, considering multiple artists have worked on the title since then. The art in this volume is a little more nuanced, a little more rounded and realistic, but still keeps the dynamic pop colors and clean lines. Batgirl’s designs have changed a bit too – they gave her a winter coat! She’ll not shiver in sub-zero temperatures wearing skin-tight leather any more! =D

Rebirth Batgirl now holds the title for my favorite Rebirth title, after the disappointment of the last Rebirth Wonder Woman. Larson’s phenomenal writing and the art continue to be a big draw. Looking forward to the next!

– Kathleen

Larson, Hope, Sami Basri, Scott Godlewski, and Minkyu Jung. Batgirl (Rebirth, Vol. 4): Strange Loop. 2018.

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Batgirl (Rebirth, Vol. 3): Summer of Lies

Batgirl and Nightwing get the same tip, for the same spot, at the same time. Which can only mean one thing: it’s a trap! Two girls, identical to someone from their shared past, attack them before jumping off the roof. Someone has brought this Dynamic Duo back together for what can only be one reason: revenge. Batgirl and Robin once worked a case together, way back in their early days of crime-fighting. It involved the Mad Hatter, a new kind of drug, Barbara’s new friend Ainsley, and the growing chemistry between Batgirl and Robin. They’re going to have to reflect back on that summer – on all the painful memories – if they’re going to have a chance at uncovering who’s behind this newest scheme.

I do love me some Nightwing with my Batgirl ;D The plot unfolds in ways you don’t expect and keeps you on your toes as much as our heroes are. The emotional investment that Barbara has in this case is palpable – just as in the flashbacks, we’re shown that it’s difficult for her to keep Barbara and Batgirl separate. The feels stakes are pretty high here. A nice artistic touch was the sepia tone that was overlaid on the flashbacks – infused with a little more golden light that perfectly recalls looking back on summers past.

Before the main story, there are two one-shots. The first is about Batgirl’s investigation of a ghost in the local Y’s pool. The second, and infinitely more adorable, is about the disappearance of internet celebrity pets – and how Batgirl finds herself teamed up with Catwoman, of all people, to recover them! Eagerly looking forward to more~

– Kathleen

Larson, Hope, Chris Wildgoose, Jose Marzan Jr., and Mat Lopes. Batgirl (Rebirth, Vol. 3): Summer of Lies. 2018.

Batgirl: The Bronze Age Omnibus (Vol. 1)

I mentioned in my review of Batgirl: A Celebration of 50 Years that I really enjoyed all the stories from the older comics contained within. I thought they were awesome! Luckily, this Bronze Age omnibus fell into a graphic novel order I submitted at one of my libraries so I could read more of them ;D

Barbara Gordon, daughter of police commissioner Jim Gordon, is the head librarian at the Gotham City Public Library. A plain Jane, so to speak. Who just so happens to be a judo expert and possesses a photographic memory. She designs a Batgirl costume for a masked ball the police department is throwing. En route, she stumbles across a crime-in-progress: Killer Moth accosting Bruce Wayne on his way to the ball! Without a second thought, Batgirl springs into action to save him. When Batman shows up to save the day, he is shocked and surprised! Who is this woman who styles herself after him to fight crime as he does? Will she be an asset or a liability to the Dynamic Duo’s crusade against crime?

The stories within are all Barbara Gordon Batgirl comics starting with her debut in 1967 and going all the way to 1977. I am totally in love with early Barbara Gordon. She was a librarian instead of a computer whiz – not that there’s anything wrong with being a computer genius, but the fact that she was originally a librarian is near and dear to my heart. Time and time again throughout these stories, we see her using her awesome librarian skills to deduce patterns in crimes and uncover clues. I just love that!!! It gives me hope that I can, one day, be as badass as Barbara Gordon.

Another thing I really loved was Batman and Robin’s quick acceptance of Batgirl as an ally. Sure, within the first few issues they are very vocal about their doubts. But Barbara proves herself time and time again, with her physical and mental prowess. She never lets it get to her, she just keeps proving them wrong until they come to the (obviously right) conclusion that she’s there to help, and she’s there to stay.

One thing that was surprising was how quickly she was given her own comic. Within the first few issues, we see Barbara on her own, with only guest appearances by Batman and Robin. It really speaks a lot to the popularity of Bab’s character, her self-assuredness, to be given a break from the hero she stylized herself after so early after her initial appearance.

These older comics are much different in format than newer ones, which is probably why I like them so much. There are narration panels which bring you up to speed and give context for some scenes. The art is focused more on the action and the characters than their surroundings. And, of course, bad puns and alliteration abound =P They are charming and I genuinely enjoy them. I hope to enjoy many more of these in the future!

Do you guys enjoy older comics too? Or am I alone in my fascination???

– Kathleen

Various. Batgirl: The Bronze Age Omnibus (Vol. 1). 2017.

Batgirl (Rebirth, Vol. 1): Beyond Burnside

Babs needs a break after those chaotic few weeks in Burnside where her memory was tampered with. So she sets off on a backpacking trip through Asia. On pure coincidence, she runs into an old friend, Kai, at the hostel she’s staying at in Okinawa. It becomes clear that he’s being targeted – but by who? The attackers all have the same tattoo: the Chinese characters for “student.” So who is the Teacher, and why do they want Kai so badly? He’s gotten into trouble in the past, but he swears to Babs he’s clean now. Batgirl isn’t so sure. She needs to find this Teacher, and why he or she is after her friend, fast.

I’m 50/50 on this one. It was a quick, light read, the story was pretty good, and the international setting was refreshing. There was a really fun story at the end, when Babs is traveling back to Gotham, with a killer plant eating the plane and Batgirl and Poison Ivy trying to stop it. But the art was AWFUL. It looked like the entire book was half-finished. The backgrounds were blurred and out of focus, and the figures had that odd blend of cross-hatch and block shading that I absolutely loathe. I’ll pick up the second volume to see what Babs makes of herself in Gotham after this adventure, but if the art is more of the same I’m just going to have to put it down.

– Kathleen

Larson, Hope, Rafael Albuquerque, and Dave McCaig. Batgirl (Rebirth, Vol. 1): Beyond Burnside. 2017.

Batgirl: A Celebration of 50 Years

I told one of my coworkers to buy this… and he listened to me for once =P

This is a collection of the best Batgirl stories – some of them I had already read in the Greatest Stories Ever Told – but there were some more that were new to me. The original publications of the stories contained here range from 1961, when Betty Kane (Kat’s niece) was written as the original Batgirl, to 2014, which was the first issue of Batgirl of Burnside. You also get a few issues of Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown, which was nice!

Hey, Babs is my favorite, but for a collection like this, you can’t expect her to hog the whole thing! =P

I found myself really enjoying the older comics, with the narrative dialogue boxes and cute nicknames like “Dominoed Daredoll.” My favorites that I hadn’t read before were:

  • “He With Secrets Fears the Sound/When Velvet Paws Caress the Ground” (1982), in which you see Babs alternately ruthless and compassionate.
  • “The Last Batgirl Story” (1988), in which Babs struggles to put away a man who had previously done her serious harm. It’s eerie how the events preceding and within this story foreshadow “The Killing Joke,” written and published later that same year.
  • “On Wings” (1999), where you see how Nightwing had a hand in creating the Birds of Prey, and a sweet moment between him and Babs ❤

The art ranges for each story, of course, but honestly there wasn’t an art style I didn’t like. This collection really is the best of the best. I hope I can find some more of these older stories~

– Kathleen

Various. Batgirl: A Celebration of 50 Years. 2017.

Batgirl (Vol. 3): Mindfields

This one is sooo overdue… lol… I reviewed the last volume pretty much soon as it came out and this one’s been sitting in my to read pile for months… 8,D;;

Barbara’s been feeling… off, lately. She can’t remember the simplest things, or things that happened only a few months ago, or things that she definitely should remember. For someone with an eidetic memory, this is highly unusual. It could just be stress, though… she’s still plugging away at her thesis, she’s got her grade school friend Greg crashing on her couch until he finds a new place, she’s got Batgirl stuff to do. The nightmares she’s been having could certainly be stress-induced: every night, a man with shadowy forms and a great, glowing eye stands over her… yeah, definitely creepy, and definitely stress-related.

Batgirl has been running with all kinds of new friends: Spoiler, Bluebird, plus some old ones, like Black Canary and Operator. Together, they’ve been keeping Burnside safe. Until someone threatens to use an energy source machine Barbara built to level the district. Are her friends able to help keep Burnside safe? Or Babs safe from her own mind?

Various plot threads from the last 2 books are tied up quite nicely here, leaving us with a satisfying ending. The art is as adorable and animated as ever. I think what I like most about this Batgirl is… it’s feasible. Babs made her costume herself and it looks home-spun yet stylish. The girls use phones and laptops that any normal college student would have in addition to the usual crime-fighting gear. The last issue in this volume, Batgirl: Endgame #1, illustrates this well. She feels like any other college girl, and she feels believable. Plus, sprinkled throughout, we get nods to the Batgirl of the golden and silver age of comics (including a library scene =P).

I highly recommend the Burnside run. It’s cute, it’s funny, it’s light-hearted, and best of all, we get to see Batgirl as just a normal college girl.

– Kathleen

Stewart, Cameron, Brenden Fletcher, and Babs Tarr. Batgirl (Vol. 3): Mindfields. 2016.

Batgirl: Silent Running

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Puckett, Kelley, Scott Peterson, Damion Scott, and Robert Campanella. Batgirl: Silent Running. 2001.

During the No-Man’s Land arc, Barbara Gordon plucked a girl out of the rubble and took care of her. After Huntress gave up the mantle of Batgirl, Barbara passes the girl, Cassandra Cain, onto Batman, to train as the new Batgirl. There’s very little to teach her. Cass was once the adoptive daughter of a ruthless assassin, David Cain. She is so proficient at fighting that she can read your body and understand it like a language. It’s the only way she knows how to communicate. She seems perfect, but there’s a catch. Bruce receives a video of what appears to be a young Cass – assassinating someone at the guidance of her adoptive father. And a man that Cass rescues one night happens to be a psychic who accidentally rearranges her brain, “fixing” (for lack of a better word) the language center in her brain so she has words, but at the expense of her fighting prowess. Can she get it back? Can she continue to be Batgirl if she can’t fight?

The cartoony art reminded me of the JSA book I reviewed a while back. The art of this book was in kind of the same style, and in some ways, it was improved. The shading was much better in this book. The anatomy in some of the panels really started to weird me out though. There’s a bit where Barbara looks like she’d gotten lip implants from one panel to the next. For all the problems I had with it, it was actually kind of impressive. Because Cass is mute, a good portion of the book has no words. The art really had to carry the story, and for the most part it did a good job. It amazed me how expressive Cass was in her Batgirl suit, which has the eyes completely obscured and the mouth sewn shut.

I wanted to try to broaden my horizons by reading this, as I’m not too keen on any Batgirl other than Barbara. After finishing, though, I find that to be truer than ever. I was too put off by the weird art. This cartoony stuff just really isn’t my style. I also didn’t like how Cass gained language so early. She didn’t need “fixing,” and it felt like a cop-out of truly trying to tell her story without words as much as it did a plot device. It was okay to read but I have too many problems with it to continue the arc.

– Kathleen

Batgirl: The Greatest Stories Ever Told

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O’Neil, Dennis, Gil Kane, and Terry Dodson. Batgirl: The Greatest Stories Ever Told. 2010.

A few weeks ago I went and snuck into a library I had an upcoming interview at. It’s a really big library so I was trying to get the lay of the land. I couldn’t resist checking out a couple items, and this was one of them. This is a collection of a couple different Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl, stories. It includes:

  • The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl – Barbara Gordon’s first ever appearance in comic books. A young librarian, the daughter of Commissioner Gordon, wishes to aid Batman and Robin in their fight against crime. She gets her chance when Killer Moth attacks Bruce Wayne on his way to a charity event.
  • The Orchid-Crusher arc – Someone in Gotham is stalking and killing redheads – and Barbara and Batgirl are on the case!
  • The Unmasking of Batgirl arc – An old flame of Batbara’s is back in town. He attempts to steal something from under Batgirl’s nose and, discouraged at the thought that she isn’t helping the people of Gotham like she wants, decides to run for Congress.
  • The Invader from Hell – Batgirl and Robin take on Benedict Arnold, back from the dead, on the streets of Washington D.C.
  • Startling Secret of the Devilish Daughters – Lately, Batgirl and Robin seem to be running into a lot of familiar yet different faces: the daughters of their greatest enemies!
  • Photo Finish – A reimagining of Batgirl and Robin’s first meeting as they try to gather evidence of a break-in against Catwoman.
  • Folie a Deux Parts 1 and 2 – Commissioner Gordon drops Barbara off at college – and it’s not a warm goodbye. Babs continues to train as Batgirl against Batman and Gordon’s wishes. When her father is in trouble and needs a hero most, will Batgirl be able to overcome Barbara’s anger and help him out?

I loved this collection, especially the older comics. Librarian! Babs gives me life. The stories of Batgirl and Robin together were adorable; neither knew who the other was so it was fun to see if they would figure it out. I really hated the art of Photo Finish, though. Folie a Deux was, for a long stretch, wordless, which was different and allows you to construct the story yourself. I need more librarian Babs in my life though, need to get my hands on some of that older stuff =P

– Kathleen

Batgirl of Burnside, Vol. 2: Family Business

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Stewart, Cameron, Brenden Fletcher, and Babs Tarr. Batgirl, Vol 2: Family Business. 2016.

Since it was such a beautiful day yesterday, I decided to walk to the comic book store near me. I went in for ONE THING (Bombshells #4, which is on backorder and not being delivered for another 2 weeks) and ended up spending $35. Why do I do this.

But this is where most of my money went XD I was so excited! I didn’t even know it was out!!! I absolutely had to get it and I devoured it as soon as I got home.

While rescuing people from a real life, very deadly, video game, Batgirl uncovers a cult devoted to Hooq, the social media site she took down in the last volume. They are worshipping a vessel that, as it turns out, contains Livewire. As she goes in for the takedown, Batman shows up – or, at least, a giant robot that looks like Batman, and who wants to arrest Batgirl! She manages to get away, but how long can she evade him? Gladius’ gang are kidnapping diplomats, and someone is releasing tigers into Luke Fox’s (Lucius’ son) new company to kill the employees, and on top of it all, Barbara is the maid of honor in her best friend’s wedding! How can she possibly do it all?

A bunch of characters show up here, so be prepared to say hello to some of your favorites! This volume kind of deviates from Barbara’s college experience, so there isn’t as much of it here as there was in the last. There was a single issue in the middle that changed art styles three times, which was super annoying. But overall, it had the same fun and light-hearted feel as the first volume.

This volume was just released on February 23, so no word yet on when the third volume is coming. I’m definitely keeping an eye out for it, though!

– Kathleen

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