Review: ‘Batgirl Vol. 2: Family Business’
Writer Brenden Fletcher, artist Babs Tarr, and writer/artist Cameron Stewart completely reinvented the character of Batgirl after taking over her struggling comic book series in late 2014. Rather than being just another lieutenant Batman, not even distinguished by her gender (as there was also a Batwoman running around and starring in her own book at the time), their Batgirl, the character, and their Batgirl, the comic book series, took on a personality.
Suddenly, Batgirl was cool. She had a cool, new costume. She had a cool, new home in Burnside, the Brooklyn of Gotham City. She had a cool, new circle of friends and allies unique from all the other Bat-people and Robins. And her book had a tone all its own: Young, energetic, fun, funny, stylish, sexy, and, under Tarr’s pens and pencils, beautiful to behold.
The creative team’s recreation of Batgirl Barbara Gordon was collected in Batgirl Vol. 1: The Batgirl of Burnside, and the second volume of the series, Family Business, continues what is, at this point, probably more of a restoration than a recreation.
If the first volume was all about staking out new territory and divorcing the character from the extended Batman family milieu, this volume is devoted to demonstrating how this new take on Batgirl operates within the world of Batman, as, coincidentally or not, the comics collected herein are chock full of guest stars from all over Gotham City.
In the pages of Batman, the title character was presumed dead, so his old ally (and Barbara’s dad) Commissioner James Gordon donned a robot battle suit to become the new Batman, and in the first, two-issue story within, Barbara and he meet in and out of costume. That’s followed by the over-sized annual, in which five guest artists all draw chapters of a Batgirl adventure in which she teams-up with the stars of Grayson and Gotham Academy and fellow female vigilantes Spoiler and Batwoman.
And in the final, three-part story, she starts dating Luke Fox (son of Lucius Fox and the semi-retired vigilante Batwing) and has a very unexpected reunion with Dick Grayson, all while fighting a tiger-themed supervillain andtrying to plan the wedding of one of her best friends.
It is, essentially, more of the same, but in this particular case, that’s great news, given how great Batgirl‘s “the same” is. The inclusion of many of these meetings and melodrama this time around means Tarr gets plenty of opportunities to show off her skills as not just an artist, but also as an “actor,” as she does a remarkable job on the various characters’ expressions and reactions to the situations they are faced with.
In the more-crowded-than-ever field of supehero comics, Batgirl is hardly the best, but it’s definitely one of the better ones, and a rather rare bright spot in DC’s often dark, self-important superhero line.
About J. Caleb Mozzocco
J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.
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