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Batgirl #0 - A Fire in the Heavens Review

4

Find out what happened a year before Barbara Gordon was shot by the Joker.

The Good

This issue is one that a lot of people have definitely been waiting for. Who was Barbara before she became Batgirl? What was she like before the fateful moment when she opened her front door to see the Joker? Simone addresses who Barbara was before then and how she became Batgirl in this issue and she presents her character and her origin in a very well organized and well written way. You get a sense of her character's thoughts and emotions through her internal dialogue, which I felt was (for the most part) well written.

Ed Benes does a great job making this issue really pretty. Barbara is gorgeous in every panel and I thought each panel was very fluid and organized. This book is very easy to read. It's a great jumping on point for readers who haven't been keeping up with BATGIRL, or who are interesting in learning more about who she is. Simone presents a fun character who seems a little bit naive and still confident in herself and her abilities and it's sort of fun watching her realize her full potential. The way she is presented here is definitely consistent with the character we saw and we've been seeing from the very beginning of this series.

The Bad

I have some pretty strong feelings about this story and that mostly has to do with the fact that this issue changes a lot of things about Batgirl's journey to becoming Batgirl. One of the very first trades I ever purchased was BATGIRL: YEAR ONE. It, for me, is the definitive Batgirl origin story. It dealt with everything from Barbara's desire to make a difference, to creating the costume herself, to being confronted (and reprimanded) by Batman, her unwillingness to give up and at last it alluded to her father's discovery of her secret identity. In only a few issues, it told a great story about a young girl coming into her own; which is why it's so difficult to read this issue without thinking back to one of my favorite comics of all time. In and of itself this issue wasn't really bad. It presented Barbara as a relatively naive and very pretty young college student who just wants to get an A+. I guess my problem is that this story deals with Barbara becoming Batgirl, and it deviates a lot from the story I grew up with. It's like saying, "hey, you know Batman's origin? Yeah, it's different now." You probably wouldn't be able to read one story without comparing it to the other. As a stand-alone, I think it felt kind of rushed a bit. I think Simone could have spent more time fleshing out this tale, explaining how Barbara is so "exceptional." Was I supposed to believe she wouldn't get a boyfriend and she was this awkward teen, because I didn't get that. It felt like the creative team wanted the reader to believe she was young and inexperienced but very smart, although I don't know if I believed that too much.

The Verdict

Overall it was a well organized issue that basically covered all the bases. At the start of the comic we see Barbara practicing ballet, and practicing martial arts -- so when she appears to kick some butt later in the issue, it's not entirely outside the realm of possibility. I don't think that was ever an issue in this book. I think there's something about the way Barbara reads in this book, though, that doesn't feel real to me. Like there's something missing. For example, during the entire fight scene, Barbara is saying things like "I can't believe I did that," and you don't get a real feel for the choreography of the actual fight. It would have been great to see her break down the fight in her mind through her internal dialogue; identifying what she has to do in order to beat him since she is at such a big disadvantage physically.

21 Comments
Posted by RedX9

Do you guys give anything other than 4's and 5's on this site? lol This issue was merely okay to me. The way Babs became Batgirl was just completely rushed and uninspiring in my opinion. It didn't match with the idea of her preparing for all the things she was training for. Why was she doing all the karate? For the sake of it? It was never touched on. I felt like this story was better off not being touched on, but they should have touched on her very first true night as a fully realized Batgirl.

Posted by Ravager4

@RedX9: actually it's stated in the issue that she had been taking self defense since she was a kid, since she was the commissioner's daughter and they knew that she might become a target by her father's enemies. So, it was touched upon.

Edited by Fuchsia_Nightingale

What a change Artgerm to Benes.(not that it's bad)

Edited by Psycho_Soldier

This is the issue that makes imposible to empathize with Babs,  
  
Her personality and internal dialogues make her so obnoxious & self centered, what's the deal with repeating to yourself how exceptional you are, she ends up being like Damian Wayne tho he can back up his words. You'd think that she'll learn about modesty after what happens at the end of the issue but no, we can see that in the 12 next/previous issues.  Reading that description of Barbara as a student that wants a A+ reminded me of  Reese Witherspoon in  the movie Election   
 
"Dwight, you are sweet but you have no idea what is going on".  Says the girl that hears the police talking about the problems that could cause a Batman copycat but goes for it and will end up shot.  
 
I can't buy Simone's fun Babs and neither Simone's skilled Babs, she lost all of Oracle's wisdom, there is no sight of it anywhere in this run, Simone is just too in love with Barbara she wants to write a perfect character but her flaws hit you in the face and we know she won't learn from her mistakes. all the growing that she had in the last decade, where did it go?  
 
She needs to relax and take snack... from the fridge  

If you want to read about a fun Batgirl go back to Steph's run
 
About the art... I got an awful Liefieldesque feeling except for the part where she dons the Cassandra styled outfit  

Posted by Wowlock

I can't seem to get warmed to this new Babs. I mean she was great as Oracle but now...she lost a lot of her ''unique'' developements and I am not talking about being disabled or something. I mean she was quite the grown character after she become the Oracle...now when I look at her, I don't know where all the developements have gone...

Besides, I miss the Batgirl runs of Cassandra or even Stephanie....

Posted by Psycho_Soldier
@Fuchsia_Nightingale:  
 
had to check Artgem's work, it reminded me of Luvisi, reminded me of Secret Six, reminded me of Scandal Savage and those outcasts, oh those outcasts, reminded me of Gail Simone.  What happened?
Posted by Fuchsia_Nightingale

@Psycho_Soldier:Idk... lol

Posted by dadarkknight36310

Can someone tell me which issue they decided to change the inner part of Bab's cape from purple to yellow lol

Posted by HexThis

Babs don't say "kick butt", say kick ass.

Posted by SolthesunGod

This was okay. I would probably give it a three. I thought Simone dialogue was a bit off....yeah I get it Barbara you think your intense!

I also thought Barbara did not look like an awkward teen with Benes art. She had already em blossomed....probably a bit too much for this story. But regardless how good this story was or could be it's never going to match her origin as Oracle. As Batgirl she is just a deriative of Batman. Oracle was her own identity and in it she was truly inspiring.

I thought the implication that her brother may be a budding psychopath was interesting.

Posted by DarthShap

I agree with Sara. The "original" origin story, on which Batgirl Year One was based, was just way better.

It had that awesome Silver Age feel to it, which fits the pre-Killing Joke character perfectly, with Barbara fighting Killer Moth on her way to a costume party. Why does everything has to be made serious and Grim n' Gritty? It is especially weird coming from Gail Simone.

Posted by herrweis

when it comes to the bat family in the new 52 ,to me all the stories seem so rushed and compact.it is just hard for em to think she became batgirl got shot and paralyzed and back to being batgirl in such a short time.

Posted by OracleX

Okay would someone spoil a part of this issue for me? Does her new origin story still connect to her working at a library? I'm inclined think so as Gail Simone has said she wanted to keep most of the Killing Joke story intact. I would just like some clarification for those few of us studying to enter the profession as she is still the coolest librarian in the world of fiction.

Posted by Webjaker

I loved this, especially the story points involving J.J. - However, I agree completely with your review. In my mind, Batgirl Year One and all her Pre-52 History will always be the 'official' back-story. Also, It was a lot to put into one issue, this could have been spread out a bit more and maybe they'll go back and touch on it in the future. However, by itself i really enjoyed it - they touched on her training, how she got her first bat-suit. It does make more sense that she would reverse engineer a bat-suit than whip one up out of nowhere with no reference (Batman is barely a myth in this universe). And as Im certain and you will agree - Squishing all of Batgirl's adventures (including her 'making a huge mistake??? and giving up the mantel) into one years time - ridiculous - I cannot wait until DC loses this 5 Year BS.

Posted by Booster_Bronze

@Psycho_Soldier: Actually I took the whole repetitive thing in her head as an insecure girl constantly restating to herself how others see her. Like, "Why am I allowed in the police office to see these things? And why are the police treating me so nice? Oh yeah, I'm an exceptional girl." Also, she uses that to explain why others view her askance and see her as strange

I kinda disagree with Sara's review, but only because I haven't read Batgirl: Year One. Maybe if I had this issue wouldn't be as good, but as someone who hasn't read the origin graphic novel, it was actually pretty good. Her saying, "I can't believe I just did that" was the inner dialogue of someone actually using her martial arts to take someone down for the first time. Simone does a good job on internal dialogue of a young, insecure girl. She's not as old as she was an Oracle (All the DC characters had their youth restored to some extent with The Reboot) so for someone who's fresh out of a wheelchair and unsure of herself, the inner dialogue fits fine for me.

Posted by charlieboy

i liked the story. but i have also really liked the whole batgirl run so far. probably my favorite new 52 title. i don't mind barbara being different than she was as oracle. she is younger and and not quite grown into the woman oracle was. also i kind of like a more optimistic babs than a grim one. oracle was a great fantastic character. but batgirl shouldn't be so negative and angry as oracle often was. batgirl needs to be more upbeat.

Posted by Zoch81

I thought was a good issue and cool seeing how Barbara became batgirl (not much of a bats fan) thought the art was good overall enjoy the book looking to the next issue.

Posted by Rise2Ragnarok

Did anyone else see Renee Montoya's one panel appearance in this issue? ;)

Posted by SolthesunGod

@Rise2Ragnarok: Yes and it was great to see her again. Such a great character.

Posted by yo_yo_fun

I agree with this review. Batgirl overall has been okay but not as strong as I hoped it would be when it was announced Barbara was going to be back as Batgirl.

I understand the purposes of the internal dialogue; to get a sense that she's younger, a little naive and its cool to see what's going on in her head but it sometimes feels too immature and it can get annoying sometimes. In this issue though, the internal dialogue was good.

I honestly can't stand the time line, she was only Batgirl for one year before she got shot?! (ugh!)

But overall, the story was pretty good, the art was really good and it was a pretty strong issue for me.

Posted by tim_mik

do we know if Benes will be doing the art from here on out or was it just a one-time deal? i liked the art a lot better than the usual stuff.