Comic Review – Batgirl #26 (DC Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“Did I mention I am only able to walk again because of a chip in my spine that connects directly to my brain?” Batgirl

Batgirl was one of the first series that got me into the DC ‘New 52’, back when Gail Simone was writing it and had her outstanding run on the character. This week it felt right to revisit Babs to see how she’ll be fairing under Mairghread Scott’s storytelling. I’ve always found Batgirl’s relationship to the Bat family interesting, sort of sitting within it but also outside of the key Batman and Robin(s) relationships. Set up fighting crime in Burnside we pick up with Barbara in a new arc against one of her recurring villains – Grotesque.

Cover art by Murphy & Hollingsworth (DC Comics)

This comic is bought to us by:

  • Writer – Mairghread Scott
  • Penciller – Paul Pelletier
  • Inker – Norm Rapmund
  • Colourist – Jordie Bellaire
  • Letterer – Deron Bennett
  • Cover Artist – Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth

We pick up Batgirl chasing down Grotesque through the streets of Burnside. The villain Grotesque has been living up to his name with a series of horrific murders imitating modern art. It’s a simple yet effective opening which gives some of us who have been a little out of the loop to get to know Batgirl again via her internal monologue as well as Grotesque by his, well, horrific murder spree. It’s a little refreshing in a way to pick up a vigilante superhero being an actual vigilante and dealing with more day-to-day crimes as opposed to something that appears to be a world-ending threat. The story follows Batgirl’s pursuit of Grotesque and plays on some defining traits of her as a character, reaching back to her time as Oracle to revive some of her unique challenges that can be put to one side (such as her dependence on technology to walk). Additionally we get to see Barbara Gordon as Barbara Gordon, building on one of her defining relationships, with her father.

Art by Pelletier, Rapmund, Bellaire & Bennett (DC Comics)

The last time I read a Batgirl comic it was after Simone’s run and Larson took over, with Albuquerque leading on art. At this time a younger, more cartoon-like aesthetic took over from the grittier more Batman-like imagery of the Simone era. To me, Pelletier’s work felt like a well woven blend of the two styles. Batgirl in her more modern outfit, fighting crime in a realistic context with what feels like less of a gritty pallet from the series I was most familiar with. Pelletier’s pencilling combines well with Bellaire’s colouring and Rapmund’s inking to achieve this affect. I also like how the civilian scenes look, with Barbara out of costume she appears friendly and warm as a person whilst coming off as well in control of herself and the situations she is in.

Final Verdict

There’s something I enjoyed about this issue I didn’t spot until my second read. Batgirl is determined and focused on fighting crime. Finding a hero these days who isn’t racked by thoughts of a relationship, villain messing with their mind or existential crisis is quite refreshing.

Final Score – 8.5 Cute Avatars out of 10

Comic Review – Titans #1 (DC Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers, or major if you haven’t read DC Rebirth #1 or Titans: Rebirth #1!

“Then let’s get it all back, Donna. All the good stuff we lost. Make ourselves whole again.” Arsenal

Titans

Cover art by Booth, Rapmund & Dalhouse

I was fairly spoilt for choice today for new comics to review. I had Batgirl, Nightwing and Titans on the cards. Out of the three stories so far the Titans story is the one I’m most excited about, with the return of Wally West. Titans #1 (written by Dan Abnett, pencils by Brett Booth, inks by Norm Rapmund, colours by Andrew Dalhouse and letters from Carlos M. Mangual) picks up where the DC Rebirth issue left off. We begin with a quick flashback to the Rebirth issue, summing up how Wally escaped the speed force and returned to the Titans. The focus of the issue is reintroducing the team dynamic and showing how Wally will fit into it all.

As with all super team comics, Titans has to walk the fine line of giving enough members of the team involvement so none of them feel pointless in being there. Wally takes the lead, I was a little disappointed he didn’t get his own series after being so integral to Rebirth, however he is taking centre stage in the events of the early Titans comics. We’re reintroduced to Omen after the quick recap, who’s exploring Wally’s memories and trying to find out as much as possible about the entity that changed history and their memories. She’s having a tough time getting past Wally’s memories of Linda, his wife from pre-New 52 who had no memory of him when he reached out to her.

Other members of the team move the plot on in the background, while working in exposition here and there. There’s a nice touch of humour between the ever sarcastic Arsenal and Tempest. We get a set up at the end of the issue with the first main villain the Titans will have to deal with. They didn’t take up much of the issue, but I’m sure their role will increase going forward now the team is back in business.

Titans interiors

Art by Booth, Rapmund & Dalhouse

As for the art, I’m really enjoying Wally’s new costume. They aren’t giving him a new pseudo-Flash title. He’s still a Flash, though different from Barry Allen and the suit shows it, with a mix of the red of the Flash and a similar structure to his old Kid Flash outfit. He chose the design just as his identity is being established in the DC Universe. Otherwise Booth, Rapmund and Dalhouse have to work a lot into to every panel with so many characters, they do a lot of good work with the limited space they’re given. Each character’s personality is portrayed in their mannerisms, the way they sit, fold their arms and carry themselves and although the action is limited it feels dynamic and the heroes feel very powerful and in control. I have only one nit-pick with the art in the whole comic. There’s a page where we see Omen and Wally doing their mind meld and the team is there. Donna seems to be staring upwards, for no apparent reason, looking a little spaced out.

 

 

But the most important question:

Can Booth draw hands? As you’d expect with an artist for one of the major comic book players of course they can. With so many characters and so much going on they have to draw a lot of them as well, often very small and in awkward places. As I said before the art captures each character’s personality, and gesture plays a huge part in this. In the small background images and conversations, although the hands aren’t so detailed they do feel natural and look to be right where they should be. With so many there are some minor instances when maybe they look a little off if you go out of you way to look at them though. Even so, I think here we have a solid 8.5 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

The message at play here is how good it is to have Wally back and how natural the team now feels. There’s a little less meta I feel going on than the acknowledgement that the Spyral role didn’t fully suit Dick in Grayson or the apparent admission that DC have overly scrambled Wonder Woman’s back story a few too many times. But this works well in itself. DC need the fun stories, in my opinion they’ve been a little lacking, and Wally who’s classically known for his fun loving attitude and his friends in the Titans are perfect to help provide that. He’s still working things out since he’s back as he’s been through a hell of a lot, but he still comes across as a great guy. It’s a solid first issue.

Score: 8.3 Pizzas out of 10