In Review: Batgirl #36

This deserves all the hype it's gotten.

The covers: Leaping in the air to avoid being run over by the Jawbreakers, Batgirl has avoided one form of peril only to find herself in the paths of the beautiful bikers’ katanas. And you thought your day was going badly? Great image by Cameron Stewart with Batgirl looking amazing in flight. The colors are so strong, it’s hard not to look at this cover. Bold colors always draw attention, and stop sign red punctuated with the yellow of the logo and our heroine’s cape are eye grabbers. Excellent cover. The Variant cover by Cliff Chiang is just as good. This cover features Batgirl leaping down from the Batsignal, where she’s just tagged the word girl underneath the bat logo. The smile on her face shows the joy she’s feeling as she’s making her escape. Solid coloring on this cover as well, with the violet and rose of Gotham highlighting her costume, and the teal from the signal showing off the title of this book. There is also a Variant Lego cover, with a Lego Batgirl bursting through a white comic book page and a blue Lego background behind her. Cute, but I don’t see her wearing so much lipstick. You have no idea how strange I find it making commentary on a Lego character’s makeup. Overall grades: Main A, Variant A, and Lego B+

The story: “Tomorrow Cries Danger” by Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher opens with Barbara at Burnside College looking for her thesis supervisor, but instead meeting Jeremy Degroot who also works in the same department. He shows her to her office and she meets her research assistant Nadimah. Once Jeremy’s gone Barbara gives a groan of frustration, as her laptop got wiped a few days ago and she can’t afford to buy an external drive big enough to extract the software. Nadimah can help, as her brother works in the robotics lab. At the robotics lab, Barbara meets Qadir and notices several police officers. There was a break in last night and a pair of prototype motorcycles with robotic engines, intelligent chassis, and jet boosters were stolen. After receiving the hardware she needed, Barbara leaves, but not before correcting some formulae on an erasable board. As she walks back to her office, two girls are causing trouble on the campus with the bikes. A quick change and Batgirl is on the scene. This was a highly entertaining read with Batgirl in action, yet without any of the go-to devices that she normally has in her utility belt. A clue from what one of the cyclists says has Barbara going to a store I never thought I’d see in a comic book. After she gets some intel, she figures out how to stop the girls. It’s not easy and it contains a terrific flashback to her youth, tying the past and present together. I loved the action and the way she stopped the girls, and the dialogue between the characters was refreshingly new, with the last page being funny. I like this Batgirl. Overall grade: A

The art: This looks like no other DC comic available. It’s drawn like Japanese manga, but without the bugged out eyes or over the top silliness one could find while watching Teen Titans Go! I really liked this. Babs Tarr is the artist, with Cameron Stewart doing the breakdowns. There are several panels on a page, unlike the usual five in most books, but I never felt as though the images were so tiny I didn’t know what was going on. Tarr is able to put a lot of emotion on her characters’ faces, such as Dinah and Barbara on the first page. There’s also a sweet bit of satisfaction coming off the latter at the end of Page 4. Action doesn’t get a back seat in this book, as Tarr is equally adept in showing power of Batgirl and her foes. The bottom panels on Page 6 show Batgirl more than capable of holding her own against the Jawbreakers, and when she scales a tree it’s pretty slick. Pages 12 – 14 are strong sequences with plenty of motion as the cyclists attempt to take out the lead. I really like the final panel on Page 19. Now that’s a take down from a super hero! The visuals on this book are strong and I hope this pair stay on this book for a very long time. Overall grade: A

The colors: Beautiful colors on this book come from Maris Wicks. Not every panel has a background, as some are fairly small, and Wicks masterfully inserts a color to emphasize the emotion and highlight the characters present. This is amply shown at the bottom of Page 2 when Barbara meets Jeremy. The dark mustard emulates the blasé colors of an old office, yet allows Barbara’s shock of red hair to stand out. The final panel on Page 3 goes to cream to emulate the emotion that Barbara feels. When the action kicks in the colors go bright, such as on 7. It’s such a joy that has action in the daylight colored brightly, as opposed to being dark and moody. The climax of the book is in a dark location, but Wicks smartly uses purples to convey darkness. Oh, and there’s a great use of neon blue for a flashback sequence. There’s so much that’s good in Wicks’s work, it’s difficult to know when to stop the praise. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, opening title and credits, online text, sounds, television dialogue, screams, and yells populate this issue thanks to Jared K. Fletcher. I’m very impressed that Fletcher was able to maintain a constant font size for the dialogue of this issue, regardless of the size of the panels. There are some tiny spaces for him to insert his work, but he’s able to maintain the same size for the dialogue throughout. Overall grade: A

The final line: This deserves all the hype it’s gotten. This is a new Batgirl for the 21st century, yet she’s the same strong Barbara fans grew up with. I’ll follow this team on this book for as long as they’re on it. Overall grade: A 

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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