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WARNING! SOME REVIEWS CONTAIN SPOILERS (EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT MARKED). PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!
BATGIRL #1
Peterson and Puckett (w), Scott (p), Campanella (i)

IF EVER THERE WAS A CASE OF RUSHING THE PRODUCT, THIS IS IT.

Before I get into breaking apart "Batgirl" #1, I want to say, right away, that the artwork is fantastic. No complaints. Now, with that having been said, let's begin. This issue suffers from DC's urge to get out anything and everything to do with Batgirl now while her popularity is hot and her role in NML is still fresh. Fine and good. I have no complaints so long as the issue is good. But this is... I really don't know. This is one of those issues where you can't figure out if it's supposed to be a "work of art" or is just awful. What I'm trying to say here is this: the storyline was so convulted and cracked up that I couldn't follow WHAT was supposed to be going on. In fact, I would easily purport that NOTHING went on. Aside from introducing us to Oracle and Batman, the fact that David Cain was Cassandra's adopted father, some stuff we already knew from NML, and this scarred up guy from her past, we know zip. Again, I would be satisfied with this information if it was constructed into the resemblances of a storyline.

Puckett I like. I may be one of the few who thought "Mark of Cain" was a genius level product. But it looks like two writers has spoiled the bucket--Puckett is trying to do his thing with the silence, Peterson is clogging the pipes--there are definately TWO distinct styles going on here--one, Peterson's influence, goes more of the way that his "Gotham Adventures" has gone, or at least the couple I've had an opportunity to read--clear cut explanation. Puckett is different, he's more subtle, more vague. Why DC packed the two of them together on this title boggles me.

So, let's review the facts--we know that Batgirl is one smart cookie. She mastered stick fighting in under 5 minutes. We know her father had her do questionable things as a child. We know she ran away, made her way into NML, came under Oracle's protection, and eventually found her way into Batman's good graces. We know she is probably an exact clone of Bruce Wayne in terms of pure raw lust for doing the job. She is willing to cast everything else away--normalcy, whatever. Cool premise--a chick version of Bruce Wayne. And this chick, not only can she made Batman bleed, but she can hit him SO FAST that her punches don't even register in the artwork--that's the most memorable scene from the issue. Now CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME A STORY?

What we get in #1 is a dozen different scenes, all taking place over a few day period. We bounce from the past to the present, back to the past, from chats with Oracle, to fighting with the B-man. Is this supposed to draw the reader into Batgirl's world? Are we supposed to believe that b/c Cain screwed up the language center of her brain that Batgirl's life occurs in spurts? That she, like a different form of Dr. Manhattan, "bounces" from instance to instance? That's not normal--and I'm hoping it was just a screw-up on the parts of the writers, letting them get used to it all. However, we didn't cut Larry Hama any slack, and I'm sure as hell not cutting them any slack either. I've heard good things about #2 and I'm willing to overlook #1 as just getting some rust off the bones. I WANT A COHERENT STORYLINE PLEASE! At least with "Azrael," while it's VERY slow, things do happen and the storyline does advance. All comics do that at greater or lesser velocities. I'm just not used to...the soap opera comic (scene 1--->scene2--->scene 3) without any transitional devices. Come on boys, you can do better than this!

I have a hell of a lot of questions after reading #1, mostly about Batgirl's past that I hope will eventually be addressed. Obviously the Cain cameo at the end signifies a return--but what about scar-dude? Was his appearance supposed to mean anything but a cutesy convinient pop-up? Whatever. The good thing about this kind of issue is that things only can go up.

The Straight Dope: If "Batgirl" #1 is any indicator about the direction of the series, then it should be fun to read--so long as the writing team can tell a decent story.

The JYD's grade: "Batgirl" #1--C+

A second reading of "Batgirl" #1:

I have most of the same problems with the story--clunky, chopped up, little transition, but I'm willing to cut it some slack. Clearly, you have to take your time as your reading, studying each and every panel--but the parts which I originally thought didn't work, now REALLY work well. By this I am referring to Batgirl's confrontation w/ scar guy from her past and her realization that the (literally) shadow of the bat is a powerful device in her life--it was that one striking moment that helped her to make sense of it all.

Despite the new obvious message of the story, the devices used to move the reader from story block to story block were just too heavy handed. And that's what drops the story from a B + to a B. Sorry.

The JYD's grade: "Batgirl" #1--B


BATGIRL #2
Peterson and Puckett (w), Scott (p), Campanella (i)

Even though there are mixed opinions about the "Batgirl" book, I've found myself enjoying it. Of course, I also think the current season of the "X-Files" is great and I absolutely loved Gillian Anderson's episode and thought Duchovney's was hilerious. So take my opinion as you will. I do think the series isn't ironing out or touching on Batgirl as a whole--"Gotham Knights" #2 served well in that regard. Instead, we are treated towards the development of a rash, uneducated superhero. Issue #2 was interesting--I found the sad ending to be a shock and thought Batgirl's reaction to his death and the letter he wrote to be an intriguing catalyst towards her own learning. The fact that she punched a punching bag in half and kicked a hole in a wall also made me open my eyes. Batgirl's got some serious power.

The storytelling--what a difference an issue makes! Whereas #1 was very clunky, yet satisfying in its own little way, #2 worked harder to remain clearer. There was one part (when Batgirl accidently got locked in the cell w/ the dying guy) that puzzled me so that I had to re-read it a couple times--just means I should have to take my time and explore the silent world of this character. I would think this series is a challenge for its writers, and its artist--its definately risky, but remains a good read. Overall, I had no problems with it. Still things to be worked out to make it as smooth as possible, but we'll get there, no doubt when Batgirl begins to speak on a regular basis.

The JYD's grade: "Batgirl" #2--B+


BATGIRL #3
Peterson and Puckett (w), Scott (p), Campanella (i)

Solidly entertaining, this series gets better and better, especially with wraparound narration by Batman. Finally, conflict enters this series between Batman and Batgirl as some mystery sender (presumbably Cain) sends Batman word that Batgirl is a killer. And did I mention the top-notch art?

The JYD's grade: "Batgirl" #3--B+