Barbara Gordon is no stranger to dusting herself off when disaster strikes, so when a fire destroys everything she owns, she spots the opportunity for a new lease on life – and seizes it! Following the rest of Gotham City’s young adults to the hip border district of Burnside, Barbara sets about building an all-new Batgirl…and discovers new threats preying on her peers! As the new hero of Burnside, Batgirl gets started by facing twin sister assassins on motorcycles!
I’m new to the Batgirl comics. I know some of her backstory the way one just picks up the major stories of DC canon, but I’ve never read anything. This new version of Batgirl intrigued me though. It seemed, dare I say, fun. Which is a different direction than most of what I’m seeing from DC these days, at least with “Bat” in the title. That’s all gritty and gray and Nolan-esque.
The Batgirl of Burnside differs tonally. It has more in common with CW’s The Flash than it does with any of the recent portrayals of Batman (with the exception of The Lego Movie). This Batgirl is a touch awkward, trying to find her feet as a superhero outside of the long shadow of Batman, while also attempting to rebuild a graduate thesis. She makes mistakes while also doing masterful detective work, causing her to feel both worthy of the Batcowl but also young enough to grow as a character through her bungles.
Initially, the new Barbara Gordon, who now goes by Babs, struck me as a touch too immature. But as her character and the plot developed, I became more intrigued by the unveiling mystery and more endeared to her as she tried to learn from or amend mistakes. The mystery itself had call outs to recent films like Spring Breakers and The Bling Ring, interesting angles on social media and celebrity, and a cool and satisfying conclusion.
More annoying to me was the portrayal of Black Canary, who played the wet blanket for the first half of the collection. It wasn’t until the end that Canary was anything more than a harpy, and I felt that was a disservice to a usually bad-ass character.
On the positive side are the many diverse characters that surround Babs. Different ethnicities, sexualities, and disabilities appear among the supporting cast, and yet each character is strong, intelligent, resourceful, or useful to the story. None of them get over or underplayed. As with a great ensemble cast, they are all used for their worth.
The Batgirl of Burnside is a strong YA comic book title. While I felt it a little “youthful” for my sensibilities, I imagined a younger version of me thinking Babs was pretty awesome.