Batman and Batgirl were the only New 52 comics I read from the very beginning to the very end of the New 52. I thoroughly enjoyed Gail Simone’s run, and at first, I thought I’d also enjoy Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher’s run, but it ended up being kind of mediocre. With a new creative team behind it, of course I’m willing to give Batgirl another shot, although I wasn’t sure how I felt about this issue after my first reading. A second reading helped.
Batgirl 1, written by Hope Larson, takes place sometime after the previous run ended, with Batgirl traveling around Japan for a variety of reasons. She’s sharing a room with an old friend and they spend the first half of the issue doing a few touristy things. In this one issue, Kai (Barbara’s old friend), gets a more character development than most of Batgirl’s supporting cast in Stewart and Fletcher’s entire run. She also meets a classic Japanese superhero known as the Fruit Bat, and takes on who might be a one-time villain. The Fruit Bat, now a very old woman, is an interesting character in her own. This comic is fun for the most part, but so far there’s no real substance. There’s no real consequence for what happens in this issue, no real tension and no real challenge just yet.
The art by Rafael Albuquerque is simple but for the most part, good. The backgrounds often have these nice little details like notes left on bulletin boards and glass doors, and there’s often something in the foreground like an unpacked bag or the man running the sushi stand. There are also plenty of times when there’s basically no background, which does hold the art back a bit. Although most of the time characters are smiling, there is good use of facial expressions, like the look batgirl gives when she considers how to take down the non-threat of a villain, or the agitated look on the Fruit Bat’s son after the old lady collapses after she intervenes in the fight. Dave McCaig’s colouring is good though.
This comic is harmless and at times is kind of fun, and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with it, but there’s not much weight. Same goes for the art. That doesn’t mean this series doesn’t have the potential to get a lot better, and the idea of a globe-trotting adventure sounds like an interesting idea for Barbara Gordon. I will most likely read the second issue before I buy it, and I would recommend that Batgirl fans do the same with this issue.