This book is probably the most controversial of all 52 new books. This stems from reinstating Barbara Gordon back to Batgirl status. For the past two decades or so Barbara has operated as the wheelchair bound Oracle, a kind of information resource/coordinator for DC’s hero community. This status quo was the result of the famous Alan Moore story The Killing Joke, in which the Joker shoots Barbara Gordon in the spine, leaving her paralyzed. As Oracle, Barbara Gordon became a fan favorite character, a champion for individuals with disabilities, and a strong female lead in books such as Birds of Prey. Many see restoring Barbara’s legs as a step back in her character development, as well as a slight to more recent Batgirls Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown. I wasn’t sure where I stood on the issue, but after reading this issue I think I agree with this sentiment.
Let me say that I personally don’t have any real attachment to the character, but I do understand that she means a lot to a great number of people. On one hand, it’s nice to see Barbara written under Gail Simone, one of the comic industries most prominent female writers and one known for her take on the character. However, I just don’t see the point in bringing her back as Batgirl. As I mentioned earlier there are other Batgirls that have done really well lately, especially the recent run on Batgirl by Bryan Q. Miller that received considerable accolades. All the more baffling is the explanation of Barbara Gordon’s recovery as “a miracle.” What does that even mean? I mean, I know it’s not unheard of for people to regain their ability to walk and I realize this is a comic book, but I feel this is a huge cop out. I really hope for the sake of credibility that there is more to this, and that perhaps later Simone has something up her sleeve. Otherwise the plot is serviceable and the villain introduced is interesting, although very comic booky. The highlight of the book is the artwork by Adrian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes, which I actually really enjoyed.
When it comes down to it I’m a little apathetic about this book. I’m giving it a dedicated review mainly because of the importance of the character and the situations surrounding the book. I probably wont be back for issue #2 unless I hear some pretty good things.