After finishing Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life, I needed something light, fun, and short. As I have said elsewhere on this blog, I only started really reading comics a few years ago when DC started their New 52 series. With regard to superhero comics, there are so many alternative stories it is hard to know where to start. The New 52 gave me a place to start. Unfortunately, I fell behind primarily because I don't like buying single issue comics and then I would forget when collections were published.
Anyway, the new Batgirl series set in Brooklyn was mentioned on one of the podcasts I listened to and it sounded the life the perfect palate cleanser after the (literally and figuratively) heavy A Little Life. The only confusing thing was that I remembered reading a few Batgirl comics set in Gotham when the New 52 started. It turns out that the series got a new author and the series was...is rebooted the right word? I am baffled as to how comics are published. I tried to look for a definitive list of Batgirl comics and found among other things that there are multiple volume ones. The newest series was written by Brendan Fletcher but since I like to read things in order as much as possible, I decided to start with Gail Simone's Batgirl.
Like I said earlier, I was looking for something light, fun, and short. Batgirl was relatively short, but I'm not sure "fun" is an apt description. "Light" definitely is not. I read all five of the collected comics written by Gail Simone as part of the New 52 (well as far as I can tell, again slightly baffled by how comics are published and republished). Most of these stories are pretty dark. One character gets his leg caught in a bear trap set up in parking lot to catch car thieves. Starving people are murdered with poisoned food. A missing family member turns out to be homicidal. Not exactly light reading. Then again, the last book I read felt so real and this was over the top bloody, so while it wasn't the palate cleanser I expected it still managed to serve its purpose. And there were some light moments.
I love cartoons. Maybe because most of the cartoons I watch are aimed at kids and I tend to associate superhero stories with kids, I expected Batgirl to be light in tone. Yes, I've seen Christopher Nolan's Batman, but well, I guess I hadn't realized how much that darker version of Batman had carried over to other series.
This isn't to say I didn't like Batgirl, I did. Simone's Barbara Gordon/Batgirl is strong, complicated, flawed, and heroic. I thoroughly enjoyed reading these comics. One of may favorite story lines is when Batgirl finds herself in a sort of utopia. Instead of being a vigilante that protects Gotham in the night when it is at its most vulnerable; she's a guardian angel that crisscrosses the city in daylight. I also loved Barbara Gordon/Batgirl as Bête Noire aka The Black Beast and the Batgirls. I would love to read a series that continues that story line!
The only time I thought it missed the mark was when vampires came into play, yes vampires. No surprise here, there is a lot I don't know about the DC universe so maybe supernatural characters are the norm in the Bat universe, but I tended to see Gotham and the Bat family of characters as dealing with human villains. They may be crazy, strange-gadget wielding villains, but human villains none the less.
All said it done, this was a great series. Looking forward to reading more of DC Comics New 52, as well as other comics and graphic novels.