Batgirl: Volume 1: The Darkest Refelction
Writer: Gail Simone
Penciller: Ardian Syaf
Inker: Vicente Cifuentes
Distributed By: DC Comics
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
They've done it once again - revamped the entire DC Comics superhero line and changed all of the back stories and realities of our favorite characters yet again. Barbara Gordon, the first and my favorite Batgirl, is Batgirl again. I just had to see how things would pan out in her return, so I checked out Batgirl: Volume 1: The Darkest Reflection.
Batgirl: Volume 1: The Darkest Reflection collects the first six comics in the new Batgirl series, featuring Gail Simone as writer, Ardian Syaf as penciller and Vicente Cifuentes as inker. The story begins with a new villain. Known as Mirror, this bad guy has a hit list of people who were supposed to have died but miraculously survived their fate. Mirror has vowed to fix this issue, returning them to their maker by killing them in the ways they should have originally died...and guess whose name is on the list - that's right, Barbara Gordon.
Recently recovered from a surgery that repaired the spinal injury she received at the hands of The Joker, Barbara has left the Birds of Prey and resumed her former role as Batgirl, defender of the innocent citizens of Gotham. As she hunts down this latest villain, we realize that Barbara has more than just a crazed murderous lunatic to contend with. For one thing, Barbara is suffering from repetitive nightmares, a direct result of survivor's guilt now that she is no longer confined to a wheelchair. For another, her return to a role of a crime fighter in the trenches has made her realize just how rusty she has become. Thirdly, her first reaction to having a gun pointed at her is less than stellar. She is growing tired of listening to friends and family asking her to take it easy. As if that isn't enough, there is the return of her long lost mother to contend with.
By the sixth segment of the trade paperback, in which Barbara faces a new enemy whose villainy is a direct result of a violent act that should have left her dead, Barbara Gordon is definitely back in full swing as Batgirl. By that point, we also see a new theme in the villains she is facing - they weren't always bad, but some traumatic event in their lives caused them to become forces of evil. These aren't your average villains bent on destruction, chaos and the building of their own personal finances. These are people who have become, for lack of a better word, "broken" with a desire for some sort of revenge.
I wasn't sure how I would feel about Barbara Gordon's return to her role as Batgirl. Despite the fact that she was my favorite version of Batgirl, I had gotten to love her new role as Oracle in Birds of Prey and through her character was a great role model for folks with disabilities. In a way, her return to Batgirl gives some folks hope, but in another, it kind of dashes the hopes of those who may always remain bound to a wheelchair. Barbara Gordon was someone who had a disability, found a way to overcome it and continued doing what she felt was important - fighting crime. There was a determination there that superseded the loss. This return to Batgirl somewhat belittles all she had achieved while wheelchair-bound.
Despite that, I admire what Gail Simone has done with her storyline, giving her survivor's guilt, making her return rusty and in need of improvement, etc. The storyline is believable, the villains intriguing and the background stories as to how the villains became villains were understandable.
The artwork is terrific and filled with vibrant colors, mirroring the vibrancy of Barbara's character and the hope of a Gotham rebuilt. For those fans of the Birds of Prey television series, there is an added bonus. Barbara has a new roommate, one that bares striking resemblance to Helena Kyle of the defunct television series, despite the difference in ethnicity - perhaps a nod to the series' stalwart fans?
All-in-all, I found Batgirl: Volume 1: The Darkest Reflection to be quite an interesting read and I can't wait to check out the rest of the newly revamped Batgirl comic book series.