Let me first say that I enjoyed the previous collections of DC’s New 52 Batgirl. Gail Simone captured Barbara Gordon’s voice extremely well, and put Batgirl through the wringer, while staying true to who she is. The tone was also consistent with the Batman family of books, yet uniquely her own. The new collection, Batgirl of Burnside, by Cameron Stewart, reinvents Batgirl/ Barbara Gordon yet again, and while I don’t know that it was a necessary move, I understand the reasoning for it.
Barbara Gordon moves to a new suburb of Gotham called Burnside, having been accepted into a collegiate program based on an algorithm she developed. She is living with a friend she met during her stint in rehab which was a result of being shot by Joker. Her roommate is programming the newest social media hit, HOOQ (a sort-of dating app), she meets several new friends through her college work (one of whom helps to develop tech for Batgirl), and Black Canary crashes with Barbara. Throw in to the mix a Batgirl impersonator, Burnside’s obsession with their new resident hero, Barbara’s chaotic social life, and an surprising villain… and you have the new direction for Batgirl.
I felt like I really am not the target audience for this new Batgirl. That being said, I believe this is why the book will be hugely popular with tween crowd. Stewart writes Batgirl from the perspective of Barbara Gordon as a fairly typical twenty-something, dealing with many of the typical twenty-something issues. Gone is the underlying darkness that lingered in previous collections. Instead, a lighter tone and spunkier heroine take its place. Additionally, the art serves as a great complement to the story, with brighter colors and a funky style that suits the new direction.
I am a firm believer if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Batgirl worked as it was. Babs Tarr’s art is fine, but the tonal shift is a little jarring if you were a follower if the series prior to the Burnside arc. Given the Bat-books’ new direction with (spoilers– highlight to read) Jim Gordon under the cowl, the tone of the Batgirl book is at least fresh, and the crossovers Barbara has had with the Bat-family (outside of this volume) have set the tone back to where she was under Simone’s writing, so not every story involving Batgirl is completely different.
The Batgirl of Burnside has found its audience fairly fast. The character and tone serve to set it apart from other books currently available, and may even bring new readers to comics. While this look isn’t for me, I am still sticking with the character as I enjoy reading about the Bat-family. JQ gives this volume a 8/10. The new look still gets a 4/10.