I have hated — HATED — the New 52 almost as soon as it started and for the past 3 years, I’ve only followed one DC title and it is out of continuity. Things may finally be turning around for my relationship with DC with Batgirl #35 — but not completely.
I’ve only read the first two issues of this New 52 Batgirl series and not even Gail Simone can save it from the totally depressing tone of the relaunched DC line. So with the announcement of a new creative team taking over, promising a brighter and a more optimistic tone, I decided to give it a shot.
Writers Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher takes us out of the ’90s, where the New 52 seems to be set in, and dumps us right in the middle of 2014. Barbara Gordon moves to Burnside, a neighborhood filled with hipsters and singles using Hooq, DC’s version of Tinder. She talks like someone who just got out of college in 2014, she and her new roommate act like young adults in 2014, everything about the issue feels like it is an actual comic book in 2014. Even the bad guy who looks like Alien from Spring Breakers and talks with hashtags looks and sounds like a douchebag villain in 2014.
The star of the new creative team though would have to be artist Babs Tarr. From the new costume design to the somewhat cartoon-y look that doesn’t feel like it’s for kids, Tarr knocks it out of the park. The new creative team gives us a dynamic, visually stunning book where even a montage page of Batgirl creating her new costume entertains and delights. And speaking of that new costume, I love the completely logical reason for Batgirl fashioning new crime-fighting gear.
What I also love is Babs (the character, not the artist) apparently having some sort of photographic memory. I’m not sure if this has been established before but seeing her mapping a route in her mind to take down a thief and trying to remember the people at a party the previous night was a joy to read.
If there is one complaint I have about Batgirl #35, it’s that the book makes me feel really old. The creative team perfectly captures young adults — particularly females — in 2014, and as a full grown adult male, I recognize that I’m not in their demographic. While I love the change in tone, it just doesn’t completely suit my taste. So subjectively, it’s not the perfect book for me. But objectively, it is an amazingly entertaining and smart start for this new creative team. I give it 4 out of 5 swipes to the right.