The newest take on Batgirl began at the end of 2014, when Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, and Babs Tarr gave us a Barbara Gordon who dressed realistically (colored Doc Martens-looking boots!), moved somewhere hip, went to college, and made new friends that represented a more diverse society. It was a breath of fresh air for the well-known-but-derivative hero.
But there’s been another line relaunch since then, and Rebirth brought Hope Larson (A Wrinkle in Time, Goldie Vance) on as writer. Thankfully, she’s continuing to keep the fan-favorite character feeling modern and current.
Batgirl #8, illustrated by Chris Wildgoose, is the second issue in the “Son of Penguin” storyline. As the title suggests, Barbara is interacting with Penguin’s son, Ethan Cobblepot, which brings up the question of how much you can trust someone based on something that’s not their fault, like their parents. Or how much you can trust someone based on what they tell you they are, instead of what they do.
Larson’s also on top of trends, as Barbara and Ethan’s date takes place in an escape room, and a later scene makes fun of bar trends. Larson is a great cultural observer; her Batgirl is very much a person living right now. I also like the way she’s emphasizing Barbara’s computer skills. One wonderful scene has Barbara volunteering at a coding workshop for kids, reminding us of different kinds of ways to help people, ways that build a future generation.
The threat here is an app that pretends to be helpful, increasing users’ safety, but it may be serving as distraction for something else. The art’s competent but nothing outstanding. I know what’s happening, but there’s no distinction to the characters, nothing to make them visually memorable. It’s the story that’s keeping me interested in this series, and I want to see what Larson comes up with next.