Batgirl #1 Review

Written by: Hope Larson

Art by: Rafael Albuquerque

Publisher: DC Comics

Batgirl #1 is a book that has a lot to live up to, coming on the heals of the very popular previous volume that gave her a new look and some much needed spunk. Thankfully the creative Team of Hope Larson and Rafael Albuquerque continue this upward trend, as they deliver a stellar first issue, full of great character moments and kung fu action.

This issue does a good job of picking up where the previous Batgirl series led off, as Barbara is in contact with her friends in Burnside long enough to establish a sort of continuity, but not long enough so that the issue is stuck in the past.  Hope Larson respectfully gives the previous series its deserved props, but then jumps headfirst into her fresh take on Batgirl.

This chapter however, is not without its’ ties to Batgirl’s past as in Japan she ends up rooming with a childhood friend of hers by chance. This meeting comes off as a little convenient, and is something that the characters themselves comment on. Thankfully, the relationship between Barbara and Kai flows much better than their meeting, and they actually come off as real, believable friends, who just want to eat strange food and reconnect. What’s even more impressive is that as the inevitable threats and mysteries are introduced in this issue, the relationship between Kai and Barbara stays the focal point. That’s not to say that the introduction of the sensei like old superhero, and the mysterious girl with the painted face aren’t interesting, because they are, but their high flying kung fu action and their connection to the books mysteries, are intertwined with Barbara and Kai.

The high flying martial art action and the believable character moments are brought so eloquently to life by Rafael Albuquerque. He manages to balance the more subdued character moments with the big bombastic in your face moments, giving each their own distinct feel. The quiet moments are very much muted and make great use of facial expressions to sell the story; whereas,  his art pops very literally in the more hectic moments, with bright visuals and zany panel construction, that harken back to the style of the old Batman 66 TV show.

Batgirl #1 is a bold new direction for Batgirl, that succeeds with a blend of believable character moments, pop-style art and some wicked fight sequences. What’s more, it makes great use of its setting and manages to make Japan as much of an important character as any in this book.