Newly returned from her recent adventures traveling across Asia, Barbara Gordon feels like she’s in a whole new world. The Burnside borough of Gotham has been gentrified and everything that made it feel like home is on the way out. This includes everything from Batgirl’s favorite coffee shop (now a pet supply store) to Barbara’s roommate and business partner, Frankie. Worse yet, Barbara’s rent doubled…
They say that a change is as good as a rest and Barbara Gordon has never been one for resting. To that end, she enrolls in the Information Science program at Burnside College with the intent of becoming a librarian. She takes on a volunteer job working with teens to teach them coding. And she agrees to go to the kind of party she usually avoids in a bid to network among the neuvous techies moving in on Burnside.
It is here Barbara meets Ethan – a dashingly handsome start-up organizer, whose company is finding ways to use technology to help the homeless. He sounds like the kind of stand-up guy Barbara would be happy to get to know – personally and professionally – until she finds out Ethan’s last name is Cobblepot. As in Oswald Cobblepot. As in The Penguin. As in The Son of The Penguin!
I must confess some professional bias here at the start. As a Master of Information Science and librarian, I’m always gratified when my profession is accurately portrayed in any fictional medium. So my already high opinion of Hope Larson as a writer grew when I read the sequences in this issue where Barbara explains why she wants to be a librarian and why they have nothing to do with liking books.
(Seriously, if I had a dollar for every time someone asked me about being able to read all day and dusting shelves, I could afford to finance an expansion of the building I work in!)
That devotion to accuracy, coupled with Larson’s grasp of Barbara Gordon as a character make Batgirl #7 a delight to read. There is a depth to Batgirl’s character that was largely absent in recent years that Hope Larson has encapsulated perfectly. This book showcases Barbara Gordon as she should be – smart, confident, committed and ready to stand up for what is right at a moment’s notice.
What makes this issue truly stand out is how well Hope Larson has utilized the work of previous Batgirl writers while making the title seem more like a part of the same universe as the other Bat-family titles. For instance, Alysia – Barbara’s roommate and best friend from Gail Simone’s run on Batgirl – makes her first apperance in some time to talk with Barbara about the new directions in their lives. And Barbara has a talk with Nightwing for the first time in what seems like forever. This pleases me as a fan who loved their interactions in Chuck Dixon’s Nightwing and Birds of Prey, though Larson’s dialogue here gives ol’ Chuck a run for his money!
Batgirl #7 sees a new artist taking over the art duties and Chris Wildgoose proves a welcome addition to the creative team. Wildgoose’s line work has a unique sense of clarity, which is uncluttered despite an amazing level of detail being fit into each panel. The style compares favorably to Babs Tarr’s work on the New 52 Batgirl title. Mat Lopes’ color art matches Wildgoose’s pencils and inks well and the whole affair merges with Larson’s story in a perfect fusion of art and story working together.
If you haven’t been reading Batgirl, now is the time to start. If you haven’t read it in a while, it’s time – like Barbara Gordon herself – to come home. Things may be different but unlike Burnside, the changes on this title are definitely for the better and the future for Batgirl is promising indeed.