At long last, the Batgirls are soaring high in their own series, taking to the streets of Gotham in their own way for their own line of adventures. There is a lot of care and love clearly showcased on each page alongside a lot of colorful bright and popping fun energy that gives the book a unique personality among the line. There are a lot of building blocks being set here that has the potential to create a very solid foundation for hopefully years to come.
The Magistrate and Scarecrow have been defeated and the ‘Fear State‘ has come to an end, as Gotham City returns to some semblance of normal for the city. Unfortunately for Oracle and the Batgirls, things are anything but normal.
Fans of Barbara Gordon, Stephanie Brown, and Cassandra “Cass” Cain have been waiting quite some time for the three to have a solid title to themselves as the bearers of the Batgirl title. There were rumblings of such a title during the time that the whole line saw some shakeups when James Tynion IV took over as Batman writer all the way back at the start of 2020, and then again during the Future State event at the start of 2021. Now as the main Batman series gets its own overhaul following Tynion’s departure, the Batgirls, at last, have their book.
Right away it’s clear that Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad have quite a lot of love for these characters, picking up on their varied personalities. Even though the Oracle system and their Clock Tower base was destroyed, and they must lie low, there is still a lot of fun and upbeat energy in this book as the three get used to their new neighborhood and situation. The friendship between Cassie and Stephanie has always been a fantastic one and it does not disappoint here as they play off one another, for good and for bad, very well.
It’s interesting that this and Detective Comics seem to be the lone books of the line that have direct fallout and continued effects from Fear State, with these being the characters that sort of have to go into hiding compared to the rest. That being said, it presents a fun opportunity to see these characters in a new environment both in their actual setting of The Hill neighborhood but also in learning to do what they do without all the usual high-tech gear and secure places. Stripping away all the excess things to allow characters to flourish as characters is a good place to start sometimes when launching new books.
Most of this issue is the setup of their new lives, finding their place, and then slowly delving into some major plot stuff. There is a whole lot of stuff happening in these twenty-two pages, but it never feels like too much since the humor and liveliness keep it moving rapidly.
Not only is the story and characters very vibrant, colorful, and fun but the art is very much in the same vein. Jorge Corona and Sarah Stern are a great match as Corona’s style very much fit the serious but also somewhat skewed fun atmosphere of the book and then Stern’s colors are a bright neon flash of fun on top of it. Despite almost all the Bat characters operating out of the same city, honestly, it’s very refreshing to see so many vibrant different takes coming from each book. Different neighborhoods have so much of their own personality and life right now which is not only nice visually but realistic to how so many cities appear.
One aspect that is very important here is how Corona depicts the area as not the ‘crime-ridden’ sort of look that everyone assumes for Gotham. It’s a very lived-in neighborhood that has some chaos to it, as Gotham does, but just looks like a place where people go about their lives as they try to make ends meet in this broken city. Each of the Bat-books in Gotham lately has done a very good job at depicting the various aspects of the city and giving it just as much visual flair and life as we see given to the various other DC Comics created cities.
Everything just pops and has such a flair to it, giving this area and characters a whole visual life. Out of all the characters in this family, these three probably are some of the best to have such expressive and dynamic art. Sure this style would very much still work for a Batman or Red Hood story, but the Batgirls with their dynamic and expressive and out-there personalities just rock it better.
Also getting in on the creative and fun aspect is Becca Carey on letters, really picking up on the energy within the dialogue throughout the book. All the little subtitles and headers and text has a pop and flash to them and there are little fun things added to the dialogue bubbles of the characters to make them stand apart at times. Not to mention the SFX which is bold and bright but also finds intriguing ways to be more an actual part of the action, such as a window creak sound going up and down the pane or a shove SFX being curved down the shoved person’s leg.
This matches so well with some of the action pages with the bright neon color backgrounds and varied types of panels showing off the bits of the fight.
Overall this book is very fun and showcases a lot of potential. It’s great seeing Oracle and the Batgirls getting their own sort of Rogues gallery rather than just taking on some of Batman’s foes per usual. There are a few bits where some of the very sharp and good dialogue doesn’t entirely feel like it fits some of the characters, but it’s not a deal-breaker type thing. Clearly, they have a love for the characters and are putting in the solid effort for this book, such things will likely very much even out over time.
Batgirls #1 is now on sale in print and digitally from DC Comics.