Batgirl Volume 1: The Darkest Reflection by Gail Simone, Adrian Syaf and Vincente Cifuentes
Review and Recommendation by Courtney Simpson
Batgirl is one of the first characters I ended up reading when I was trying to figure out who my favorite superhero actually was. I have only been aware of her existence for maybe the last five years. Wonder Woman was always my favorite superhero, but I started to wonder if she was my favorite because she was the only female superhero I knew about, or if she was actually my favorite. So I started reading comics and finished a Batman trade and said something about how I wished Batman were a girl and was then handed this volume of Batgirl.
The story takes place three years after The Killing Joke, where the Joker shoots Barbara Gordon (also known as Batgirl) through the spine and paralyzes her. Barbara has miraculously gained the ability to walk and be Batgirl again. This is briefly referred to in the comic. Now that Barbara has regained the ability to walk, she decides it’s time to move out of her dad’s house. Barbara also faces off against a villain who is determined to kill people who survived accidents that they should have died in. While looking for the villain, Barbara finds herself face to face with him and his gun. She freezes and someone dies because she unable to act and stop the villain. Through the story, Barbara grows as a person/superhero who is dealing with PTSD. She doesn't have superpowers to keep her safe, she has herself. She has an eidetic memory that she combines with her brains and her skills as a dancer to help her beat bad guys. And she goes after bad guys because she thinks it's the right thing to do. Within this volume of Batgirl we get to watch her question choices, doubt herself and be stubborn enough to insist on going on this journey alone.
This is a character I found myself in. I love how human Batgirl is and how in her head you are able to get with the way the character is written. There are thought bubbles so you literally know what she is thinking every step of the way and it's awesome. This book is dark, people die and the villains really are bad guys. There is a grittiness to the story that keeps you invested, keeps you going back for more. Batgirl is human and flawed and she still tries to be more than she is. She is a character that is trying to find herself as a person and as a superhero. She’s not just Batgirl, or Barbara Gordon, she’s both and she’s trying to find the balance. The art is terrific, but it’s all about the storytelling with this book, which is amazing. This book is why I am so passionate about this character and it's also why I'll read anything Gail Simone writes. I recommend this comic to anyone who is curious about Batgirl.
I rate this book five out of five stars.