Graphic Novelty²



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

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

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

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

Batgirl of Burnside

Stewart, Cameron. Batgirl, Vol. 1: The Batgirl of Burnside. DC Comics, 2015. 

This comic is a part of the New 52, the big reboot DC started a couple years ago. Barbara Gordon, college student, moves into a new apartment in the hip college district of Burnside during her senior year. When her laptop is stolen and a fire burns down her friend Dinah’s warehouse, where she kept all her Batgirl gear, Barbara seizes on this chance to reinvent Batgirl. The new Batgirl’s adventures take place not only on the streets and rooftops of Burnside, but on social media as hundreds of Barbara’s peers follow and like her every move and picture. But what happens when Batgirl’s adoring fan base turns against her?

In contrast to a lot of the darker superhero stories of today, this one is a breath of fresh air. It recalls the Barbara of the Batman animated series of the ’90s. Here we get a chance to see Barbara during her college years, balancing her schoolwork, social life, and vigilante life, while still being her smart, snarky, and kick-butt self. The art is clean, cute, and dynamic. If you like your graphic novels light-hearted, this is the one for you! Check out our copy today!


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