I am excited to join Franki Sibberson and Mary Lee Hahn of A Year of Reading; Alyson Beecher of KidLit Frenzy; and Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan of Assessment in Perspective in their October Graphic Novel Celebration! Each Thursday in October, I will post about a recently read and/or favorite graphic novel.
It’s not too late to join the fun! Check out this invitation post at the Nerdy Book Club blog.
It should come as no surprise that one of my very favorite superheroes is Batgirl. I am, after all, a librarian, and when Barbara Gordon was introduced in 1967, she not only held a doctorate in library science but was the director of the Gotham City Public Library, presumably the largest library in the DC universe. And so I was excited to see a new modern Batgirl “come to life” in Batgirl of Burnside, Vol. 1 by Caneron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, Babs Tarr, and Maris Wicks.
Starting at the “soft reboot” point of Batgirl #35, this graphic novel places Barbara Gordon in the up-and-coming Burnside neighborhood of Gotham City. By day, she is a graduate student working on a thesis that uses a predictive algorithm which she hopes will allow police to stop criminals before they commit crimes. By night, she is a caped crusader who stops criminals as they commit crimes. Barbara is definitely a twenty-something with friends who work for a social media site called hooq (Tinder) and who dress, act, and communicate like twenty-somethings. So expect to see snippets of texts, hashtags, selfies, love interests, and the like peppered throughout, as well as one villain who is threatening to expose celebrity secrets (and more).
As a reader of YA, I feel that teens will be able to connect to this Batgirl and understand the world she lives in. In fact, the biggest critics of this title end up sounding like old fogeys, in my opinion, when they criticize how this Batgirl is kind of a hipster and too unlike their Batgirl. Well, the writers were given a charge to update Batgirl to appeal to a younger audience and so it’s no wonder. I found this Batgirl to be a breath of fresh air, even though I do agree that the villains need a little more “bite,” and that the best battle (so far) [SPOILER ALERT] was when Batgirl had to take on a sentient version of her own brain scan. I also like the allusions to Barbara’s former paralysis (see The Killing Joke) before an innovative experimental surgery, and that her current pursuit of information management and friendship with Dinah Lance are nods to her Oracle persona, from (among other works) the Birds of Prey series. In all, I think that there is plenty of room for this Batgirl, and I am excited to see where her story goes from here.