I exercised a lot of willpower and patience in waiting for this trade, rather than buying individual issues, and I’m so glad that I waited. Hope Larson and Rafael Albuquerque’s Batgirl is a bloody good comic, and they a brilliant successors to the dream team of Stewart, Fletcher and Tarr. I have high hopes for this one!
As the title suggests, the first story arc in the Rebirth series takes Batgirl beyond Burnside on a tour of Asia, running into old friends and trouble along the way. It’s a pleasant departure from the typical superhero comic, and Larson seamlessly blends together elements from travel writing, young adult mystery, and the previous Batgirl run, creating a very rich narrative. At times, the comic felt almost like a personal travel guide, with the odd panel focusing on food and/or explaining terminology which added an extra dimension to the comic, whilst also tapping into Barbara’s well-known thirst for knowledge and learning.
I’m perhaps somewhat biased- I adore Babs Tarr’s artwork and she did some exciting things with her Batgirl- however, Rafael Albuquerque’s style is a welcome change, and addition to the comic. He captures motion and fight scenes well, creating sequences that resemble graceful, choreographed dances, whilst his portrayal Batgirl/Barbara evokes images of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Veronica Mars; scrappy and sassy. His focus on Barbara’s face throughout adds a mischievous streak to the character, which I haven’t seen before, but I’m intrigued to see where it goes in future issues.
Overall, I’d say that Batgirl Beyond Burnside is an unexpected gem in DC’s Rebirth line- and one which I think will definitely appeal to younger female audiences. I won’t give spoilers, but I’m delighted that Larson includes some of the technological/human aspects and debates from the original Burnside arcs, and I’m very excited to see how Larson develops the character and comic.