Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon have always shared a unique relationship, even among Batman’s many allies. Some say that it is because they were the first two people Bruce Wayne trusted to work alongside him in the field. Others think there is (or was) something between them that runs much stronger than friendship. The one thing that anyone knows for certain is that neither Dick nor Babs wants to discuss it.
Whether they like it or not, those old memories and a whole host of conflicting emotions come back into the light when Nightwing and Batgirl are both summoned by a mysterious text message. This leads them both into a battle which ends with two dead bodies and a cryptic message.
“Her blood is on your hands.”
“Soon you will be punished.”
Who is seeking revenge on Batgirl and Nightwing and why? How does this mystery tie into their first case together, back in the days when Dick Grayson was still Robin, Barbara Gordon was new to Gotham and life seemed a good deal simpler? How is The Mad Hatter involved? And what does any of this have to do with Ainsley – the first real friend Barbara Gordon ever made after moving to Gotham City?
Shippers of Batgirl and Nightwing rejoiced when it was announced that Summer of Lies would tell the tale of how a young Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon first met before Things Got Awkward. The New 52 Batgirl and Nightwing books hinted at some kind of falling out between the two heroes but no details were ever given. This has been a matter of concern for fans of both characters, who disliked how vague their favorite heroes’ pasts had become.
Alas, this first chapter doesn’t concern itself with romance at all. This issue splits its focus between establishing the mystery that brings Nightwing and Batgirl together in the modern day and showing something of Barbara Gordon’s life as an outcast upon moving to Gotham City. Her first encounter and team-up with Robin are only a small part of the story. This is to the story’s benefit, however, allowing Hope Larson to establish all the players for the benefit of those readers who might not be aware of the long history between Batgirl and Nightwing.
Batgirl #14 heralds the return of Chris Wildgoose to the series and the homecoming is most welcome. The recent run of guest artists have all proven quite capable but there’s something about Wildgoose’s pencils that lend themselves uniquely well to Batgirl and Hope Larson’s stories. I predict that their work together will be fondly recalled as one of the great creative partnerships of the Rebirth line in the future.
The rest of the art team are no less adept, with inker Jose Marzan Jr. utilizing a light touch that barely alters the original pencils. Colorist Mat Lopes finds the perfect palette for every scene. Letterer Deron Bennett adopts a subtle change in font for the thought balloons that makes Barbara’s internal monologue stand out all the stronger.
Bottom Line: If you haven’t been reading Batgirl, this issue is the one to start with.