Pick of the week (Aug. 24th): Batgirl #2

Batgirl #2

Writer: Hope Larson

Artist: Rafael Albuquerque

Color Art: Dave McCaig

Batgilr #2 was my most looked forward to book of the week in the first ever New Comic Book Day Top 5, and it did not disappoint. Picking up where last issue left off we find Batgirl in Singapore chasing down a purple drone that’s making it’s getaway. Batgirl wonders if this drone is on a secret mission to gather information about her and her traveling partner Kai (whom Batgirl has history with). It turns out that the drone is nothing as Batgirl follows it back to it’s base and it turns out to be operated by a simple pervert. Not quite what Batgirl expected. During the chase scene Batgirl repeats the mantra that the Fruit Bat told her “You can’t see the future when the past is standing in your way”. This comes in to play later in the issue. Batgirl then uses her photographic memory to replay the fight she had with the killer schoolgirl from the previous issue. After playing through that memory a few times she notices a detail that she had previously missed. A tattoo that translates into “pupil” or “student”. Batgirl then wonders what the tattoo means.The following morning she has an awkward and clumsy discussion with Kai, who she realizes she is starting to have feelings for. This leads to one of my favorite pieces of inner dialogue I’ve ever read in a Batgirl comic. The dialogue is Batgirl questioning herself in a vulnerable way, and ending with her saying she needs to see a therapist in a half joking manner. The way Larson writes Batgirl is interesting because there are several moment where we see the vulnerable young adult that Batgirl is, but we also see that even though she is vulnerable (like all of us in the world) that doesn’t make her weak. She doesn’t succumb to the vulnerability, instead she uses it to keep herself grounded and not lose her identity as Barbara Gordon completely to Batgirl.

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In the first issue the whole reason why Batgirl want’s to go to Singapore is to try out for a MMA group called Adapt. Upon inquiring about working out with Adapt she is first mistaken for a ring girl and then informed that they no longer accept female fighters. After her discussion with the receptionist she is told about a different gym that would train her that is owned by a women named May Hao who, we learn, lived in Gotham up until recently when she returned to Singapore. May promptly accepts to train Batgirl and even sets up a fight for the following Friday between her and MMA Wen Lu from China. This acceptance of Batgirl and setting up of a fight for her seems to easy to me. Combine that with the fact that May used to live in Gotham and something smells fishy here. during the fight Batgirl seems to have an upper hand but (gasp) Wen has a tattoo on her arm that matched the one on the Killer school girls arm, noticing this Batgirl is distracted and knocked out by Wen. I fell like there is more to May than meets the eye. Maybe May is the teacher of these students, or maybe she knows more about Batgirl’s secret mission than she is letting on.

Now at the beginning of the review I told you what Batgirl kept repeating from her meeting with the Fruit Bat “”You can’t see the future when the past is standing in your way”, well while Batgirl is training for her fight there is also a montage of a romantic involvement with Kai. While Batgirl is interested in him she is confused as to why. She doesn’t know if it’s because she has a past with him or if it’s because he’s changed. Throughout the issue he trys to show Batgirl how much he’s changed by taking her on a romantic dip in a high rise pool, and telling her he has a real job. The romance of the night won over and Batgirl gave him a kiss. A kiss that she immediately regretted.¬† All of this just confuses Batgirl more and more. I’d tell you what happened but I don’t want to spoil it for you. So go buy this comic and read it for yourself.

The art in this issue is excellent Albuquerque continues the stylistic elements from issue one. with backgrounds lacking somewhat in detail adding to the over all style of the book. Albuquerque is fantastic at conveying a sense of movement with his characters. During the fighting montage especially. The punches leap off the page and really make you feel like the are moving. Albuquerque often draws close up on faces in order to draw out emotion from their facial expressions. This issue was very successful in that regard. The color art work by Dave McCaig was superb a well. McCaig continued to use solid color backgrounds to help make the figures pop. This technique works especially well during action sequences. McCaig also uses different¬†palettes to evoke a sense of time to the pages. For instance in the scenes set in morning, he uses a lot of greens and blues to convey a sense of beginning. During the romantic rooftop pool scene it’s set in the evening and palettes witches to a more yellow, orange and brown palette to make it appear as though the characters are being bathed in the last light of day.

Overall this issue just works on so many levels. The whole creative team is really jelling well and because of this they have been able to create something that has the potential of being very, very special. Below I have included the two covers the title shipped with.

Rating: 9/10

-Andrew

Tales From the Pull List (Jul. 27th): A New Hope (Larson)

Hello Revuers. This week marks another big victory for the DC Rebirth initiative. Once again I found my pull dominated by DC comics. I counted and I have purchased more DC comics in the last two month than I did all of last year. What has changed with this initiative? There’s hope. Well that, and the comics have been consistently good across the board. I haven’t read a single title that I didn’t like. This week I have three to review. A bit of a light week for me.

 

Pick of the Week

Batgirl #1: What I disliked most about the New 52 was the grit and darkness. With rebirth there’s hope figuratively, and in the case of Batgirl literally. New writer Hope Larson brings with her a freshness to Barbara and a new direction for the character and title. While the previous volume of Batgirl (worth a read) was set in Burnside, this volume has Batgirl gallivanting across Japan on what she thinks is a vacation. But as we all know, superheros don’t have vacations. Barbara runs into her old childhood friend Kai, when she discovers that he is her roommate at the Hostel she is staying at (what a coincidence). Kai asks Barbara what she is doing in Japan and we learn it’s to meet a childhood hero of hers named Fruit Bat. Fruit Bat was a Japanese superhero from the 20’s who is still alive and lives in Japan with her son. Fruit Bat was Barbara’s idol and she is determined to find and meet her. Barbara and Kai do just that (after a series of hi-jinks and comedic situations). However, upon meeting Fruit Bat a stranger attacks Kai ask vaguely for the “formula”. Batgirl intervene and defends Kai, but she is too slow. The assailant would have gotten away if not for the 104 year old Fruit Bat who proves that she still has the moves. Blocking a thrown ninja star and causing the villain to flee. After the skirmish Fruit Bat collapses and Batgirl rushes to her side. Fruit Bat states that Batgirl needs to let go of her past and find a new teacher. This leads Batgirl to…..MMA? We will find out in the next issue. The creative team is rounded out by artist Rafael Albuquerque and color artist Dave McCaig. The artists bring a creative shift from the previous volume of Batgirl, allowing this new volume to shine in it’s uniqueness. The art from Albuquerque is fantastic, helping the reader gather a real sense of emotion from the facial expressions and creating a sense of motion with great line work. The color from Dave McCaig is high contrast, with many panels featuring bright backgrounds behind earth tone figures. This causes the characters to pop and adds a sense of motion to the art. Rating 8.5/10

 

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The Flash #3: This issue features the emergence of many speedsters in Central City. Not all of them want to be good, as the issue tells us. In fact some want to use their new found powers selfishly. The Flash struggles with what to do with all the new speedsters in the city, as he feels responsible for creating them. As he finds out that the speed force storm that created all the new speedsters was drawn to Central City by him. At the end of the issue we are introduced to a new villain named Godspeed. Who almost August, The Flash’s new sidekick. Unlike all the other new speedsters, Godspeed appears to have some control over his powers. Implying that perhaps these powers aren’t new to him. This issue saw some character development for Wally West and a cameo by Iris West. It also showed August learning and adapting to his powers. The most interesting aspect of the issue though was how much The Flash enjoys being a mentor and enjoys teaching others how to use the Speedforce. With the introduction of more speedsters this role for Barry, mentor and teacher, really solidifies him as the main character of this book.¬† Rating: 8/10

Nightwing #1: This issue opens up with Nightwing completing a mission for a international version of the Court of Owls. In the Nightwing Rebirth issue we learned that this new court of owls had manipulated Nightwing into working for them by threatening to kill Robin via a bomb that they had implanted into his head. What the Court doesn’t know is that Nightwing was able to remove the bomb, and now is only pretending to work for them in order to learn more about their organization and bring them down from the inside. In this issue we learn that the Court of Owls is unhappy with the results that Nightwing has had the last few missions and have acquired a partner for him. A mysterious new character named Raptor. Nightwing goes to the designated meeting place planning to tell Raptor that he has no interest in a partner, but is promptly beat down by this new character. At the end of the issue Raptor tells Nightwing that everything Batman had taught him was wrong, and that he needed a new mentor. Overall the issue was quick paced and intriguing. Rating:8/10

 

 

-Andrew