Ricky Church reviews Batgirl #1…
“Beyond Burnside” Chapter One: The Batgirl you know and love is going global with Eisner Award-winning and New York Times best-selling writer Hope Larson (A Wrinkle in Time, Goldie Vance) and all-star artist Rafael Albuquerque (AMERICAN VAMPIRE). In order to up her game, Babs travels to Japan on a quest to train with the most elite modern combat masters of the East. But when a chance meeting with an old friend puts a target on her back, Batgirl may need to use her new skills to solve a deadly mystery.
SEE ALSO: Check out a preview of Batgirl #1
Though she’s got her team book with the Birds of Prey, Batgirl’s solo book has finally been released and, much like the final issues of her New 52 series, Batgirl #1 is light and a lot of fun with some good characterization of Batgirl and is interesting for its change of location.
Batgirl takes the young heroine outside of Gotham City to Japan as she begins a trek across the world to increase her skills. The change of scenery is nice considering the majority of Bat books take place in Gotham, giving her book some unique imagery and feelings since it is set so apart from Batman and his world.
Hope Larson’s interpretation of both Barbara Gordon and Batgirl is a great representation of what she is now. She’s funny, spunky and is a quick thinker when it comes to a fight. Her interactions with her long-lost friend Kai were some of the highlights of the book with a lot of humour peppered in. It was easy to buy into their friendship, even though it had been years since they’d last seen each other, and one of the best things about it (so far at least) is its completely devoid of any romantic or sexual tension, making it feel like a very fresh friendship.
If there’s one thing this book somewhat lacks, its story since it spends so much time introducing Barbara to Japan and her time with Kai. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but there’s not really much of a hint of what will the central conflict in this book will be. Batgirl #1’s strength lies in the characterization, but there’s really not much set-up.
Rafael Albuquerque’s art is dynamic and very animated, especially once sequence towards the issue’s conclusion, and Dave McGaig’s colours add to the book’s vibrant image. It’s a great looking issue with some good characterization of Batgirl, especially at a time when her portrayal in Batman: The Killing Joke adaptation was polarizing (read our review here), and Albuquerque and McGaig’s combined art will probably become a selling point for the title, but there’s no telling yet what kind of direction the story will go.