By Bryan Q. Miller (writer), Lee Garbett (penciller), Trevor Scott (inker), Guy Major (colorist)
The Story: In the bad parts of Gotham (are there any others?) some extreme street racing take place. A mysterious Batgirl steps in and we are introduced to Stephanie Brown, formerly the superhero Spoiler. She’s got a lot on her mind. She promised to get out of the superheroing business and start the college life. She promised her mother. She promised Tim Drake. Why is such a simple promise so hard to keep? Spoiler is gone. Batgirl is here. And Barbara Gordon is weaved into the mix for good measure.
What’s Good: This is not a bad book. I think it’s a challenging thing to pull off a teen’s point of view without sounding condescending (Rick Jones) or super-genius (Kitty Pryde). Miller has made Stephanie likable, genuine, and real. She’s struggling with a choice and we get to watch her try to stay on the straight and narrow. It’s an entertaining show. I also have to take my hat off to Miller for his easy use of parallels and symbolism. Stephanie is going through one of those “Who am I and what should I do” periods we all have/ had, except Miller shows her in this period right in the middle of first year philosophy while the professor is discussing free will. Also, every other student has a laptop, and Miller shows her isolation and the lunacy of her trying to be normal, by having her come to class with just a pen and paper. Very effective. The art team complements the writing competently. They deliver action, mood, setting, and some pretty good faces that express what the writer needs them to express.
What’s Not So Good: There’s nothing overtly negative about this book. It is a competently-told tale of a C-list character who’s main draw is that she is part of the Bat-family. However, the story of an angst-ridden first-year university student is not going to light the DCU on fire. The story and the art are good enough. If there’s any that fails is that there is nothing remarkable about this book. The new Batgirl saves the lives of a few people I didn’t care about. She considers breaking promises that I consider a little foolish. She agonizes over identity and self, but there’s nothing really at stake. She’ll either be a superhero or she won’t. Either one is fine with me.
Conclusion: This is an enjoyable book, but entirely average. I think something remarkable will have to spring from this title, something that makes it relevant to the DCU or unique enough to be its own draw, or Batgirl will have an easily forgettable short run.