Review: Batgirl: The Batgirl of Burnside by Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr & Brenden Fletcher

Batgirl: Batgirl of Burnside (Volume 1)
Written by: Cameron Stewart
Art by: Babs Tarr
DC Comics
I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Released May 27, 2015
176 pages
Comics / Superheroes / Bat Family

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

Barbara Gordon is no stranger to dusting herself off when disaster strikes, so when a fire destroys everything she owns, she spots the opportunity for a new lease on life – and seizes it! Following the rest of Gotham City’s young adults to the hip border district of Burnside, Barbara sets about building an all-new Batgirl…and discovers new threats preying on her peers! As the new hero of Burnside, Batgirl gets started by facing twin sister assassins on motorcycles! Collects BATGIRL #35-40.

Somebody over at DC can’t seem to count very well. This graphic novel is collecting issues #35-40 and yet it’s calling it volume 1. Despite being a bit of a soft reboot for the character, it’s in continuity (sort of, I’ll explain) with the previous Gail Simone Batgirl run for the New 52, so this is really volume 6. Why are capes and tights so confusing?

Semantics aside, this volume of Batgirl is by a brand new creative team that is making Barbara Gordon younger, hipper and very much a young 21-year-old of now. This comic is now a little more oriented towards a slightly younger audience and Barbara herself often looks like a teenager despite her habit of wandering her apartment with no pants on. She’s moved to the hipster Brooklyn-esque neighborhood of Gotham called Burnside, where she rooms with a computer programmer, goes to graduate school, becomes obsessed with selfies and dates a cop. Meanwhile some ominous bad guy is weaving its way into her life and causing havoc for her and her friends.

I should preface this with saying I never read Gail Simone’s volumes 4 and 5 of Batgirl because the whole Death in the Family arc that ran across the various Batman comic lines in volume 3 burnt me out on the gloom and doom in Gotham. The Batgirl run especially made me feel ill one too many times and I had to walk away from my beloved Barbara Gordon and Dick Greyson for fear of what sick madness DC would put them through next. That’s why I was way into the idea of this newer, brighter, happier Batgirl.

But after reading it, I’m really still trying to wrap my mind around Batgirl of Burnside. Perhaps making a pros and cons list will help out.

Pros

  • OMG BLACK CANARY IS MY FAVORITE! From the moment Dinah shows up all grouchy and big sister-like, I wanted this comic to be able her.
  • Happier Barbara is a better Barbara.
  • The surround cast of characters is a diverse lot that includes the usual tech geek to help with equipment, a computer savvy programmer girl and a couple of hottie potential love interests.
  • The new Batgirl costume is really awesome.
  • I really liked who turned out to be the bad guy and the ultimate solution that saved the day.
  • The debate on whether vigilantes are helpful or hurtful to the city of Gotham is brought up by smart characters, but doesn’t get too philosophical to drag down the action.Candy colored anime girls on crazy motorbikes!!

Cons

  • There’s some problematic issues with a cross dressing character that caused waves with the single issue was released. I was aware going into reading the graphic novel of the issue and it still made me feel pretty icky reading it, especially on top of them more or less removing the transgendered character introduced in Gail Simone's run.
  • The writers turn Barbara into a self-involved Instagram celebrity that hangs out in bars with hipsters while in her Batgirl get up.
  • This really didn’t feel like the Barbara Gordon I’ve known and loved, but might be able to pass as a much younger version of her. I just had a hard time buying that this is the same girl that went through all the Joker madness from earlier in the series, and it took me some time to get over that.

I think overall – taken as a whole – I liked Batgirl of Burnside, but it did take me several issues and getting past the sparkly cross dressing madness before I felt the story really kicked into gear and became something enjoyable. The finally two or three issues were great, involving some flashbacks that tried to put this version of Barbara Gordon into context with previous events from the New 52. Babs Tarr’s art is bright and glossy and overall just happy looking, so I think it was just a matter of the writers getting a handle on who they want Barbara to be.

But really it should all be about Black Canary. Dinah is barely in the book, but I loved her instantly. I loved her character design, her wardrobe, and her big sister relationship with the far more immature Barbara. It’s because of her that I’ve already reserved volumes 4 and 5 of Gail Simone’s run to fill in the back story on how these two met and what the situation was prior to the move to Burnside.

I think overall this book stands up as a starter for potential Batgirl fans, even if you haven’t read any of the earlier New 52 books. It’s definitely a lighter and brighter version of Babs, having kicked the trauma and terror associated with Gotham. I hope future volumes will add back in a little bit more of her maturity without weighing her down. This probably would have worked better for me overall had it been a harder reboot, but I’m still looking forward to what adventures lay ahead for my favorite Batgirl and her cast of friends.

Random Tuesday: Happy 200th Sam & Dean! Sci Fi Book Things! Amazon Pilots! More!

It is cold and I am grumpy. I really shouldn't be because we got Comic Con tickets on Saturday and then we saw Big Hero 6, which was all kinds of lovely. But it's cold now and I hate the cold. I can't feel my toes. Let's find some random things to distract me.

This guy named Scott Park made a post with all these awesome female characters from great genre films and television. It's called Hall of Heroes and you can buy a copy of it at his Society 6 store if you love it as much as I do.

io9 has an exclusive look at Scott Westerfeld's upcoming post-apocalypse graphic novel, The Spill Zone. It includes an essay that Westerfield wrote and some sneak peeks at artwork from the book. The Spill Zone will be released by First Second at some indeterminate point in the future.

Continuing on the trend of science fiction books and io9, those awesome people have compilled a great list of awesome opening sentences in scifi books. Are there any ones missing?

Tonight is the 200th episode of Supernatural, which is insane to think about considering I've seen most episodes more than once and all of the first five seasons more times than I can honestly comprehend. EW asked 10 of the cast members which episode is their personal favorite. Of course Jared likes a silly one and Jensen liked a sad one.

Amazon has announced the 7 pilots for their 2015 "pilot season". The only one that jumps out to me is the adaptation of The Man in the High Castle, but perhaps someone out there might be interested in the other six that could be coming to an Amazon Prime account near you.

DC Comics announced some massive multi-verse crossing event called Convergence written by the guy behind White Collar (don't even ask me how that happened). I yawned. Then I heard about the Nightwing/Oracle part and now I'm all:

My fangirl shipper heart has grown three times and I'm very excited!

Speaking of being excited, Ms. Gingerhaze - Noelle Stevenson - is going to be writing her very first comic for the big 2 with a story in Marvel's Thor Annual. It will come out in February and you should buy it. Congrats to her and all her amazing, well-deserved success!

That's it from me this week. If you haven't seen Big Hero 6 yet, go see it. It's awesome.

What We're Watching: Gotham Pilot Review

Gotham
FOX

Begins Monday, September 22

So technically this is a “What We Watched” and a “What We Will Be Watching” column this week. Back in July we were lucky enough to see the pilot for Fox’s new Batman-related crime drama Gotham. This show focuses on a young Jim Gordon as a police detective discovering exact how far corruption goes in Gotham. How many guys are there really? Who’s corrupted? Who can be trusted?

As expected with anything even remotely Batman-related, Gotham looks gloomy and dark, all shades of gray for both the scenery and the characters. This show will introduce some of the famous Batman villains before they were the big bads that they will become. In the pilot alone, we get a quick shot of baby Catwoman (Kittengirl?) stalking the roof tops, stealing milk from passing strangers. The Penguin is an awkward bumbling henchman of Fish Mooney, a female mob boss who I believe was created solely for this show. Finally a pre-Riddler Edward Nigma is given a brief moment of screen time as a police forensic expert that doesn’t like to give straight answers. It’s also been said that someone that could potentially become the Joker will be slipped into every episode, so perhaps he was the standup comic trying out for Mooney in her club.

The pilot revolves around the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents as they walk their son home from the theatre. It plays out just as one would expect from the comics, but this time, we get to see the immediate aftermath, the failings of the city’s police and the determination of its newest detective to do what’s right. David Mazouz plays little Bruce in an understandable state of shock, only to then start showing signs of menace and a need for revenge as he reappears later on in the show. Ben McKenzie as Jim Gordon seems like a solid moral center for a show that can easily go off the rails into cartoon-land. He scowls a lot, but there seems to be a flicker of hope in him that he can have a positive effect against the corruption around him.

My only real complaint about the pilot is learning that Pamela Isley – the future Poison Ivy – has been renamed Ivy Pepper for no apparent reason. She only has a tiny cameo in the pilot, but the ridiculous name change is going to make me grumpy every time she comes on screen. Camren Bicondova as little Selina Kyle makes up for it though with impishness as she clambers over roof tops. In just a few moments, she conveys both Selina’s carefree “I take what I want” attitude along with an empathy for little Bruce after his harrowing experience.

Jada Pinkett Smith looks like she’s having fun chewy scenery as Fish Mooney and Robin Taylor is perfect as awkward Oswald Cobblepot, who dreams of power but doesn’t yet have the guts to do what is necessary to obtain it. This show won’t hurt for fun villains even if Batman’s rouge gallery doesn’t exist just yet. Meanwhile Donal Logue is perfectly happy trying to out-chew Smith as Detective Bullock, the less than squeaky clean partner of Gordon, who attempts to show his younger charge the ropes to maneuver through the corrupt streets of Gotham and the compromises to integrity that need to be made to prevent yourself from getting killed.

The writers are playing fast and loose with canon, but in the pilot, it didn’t bother me much (except for the Poison Ivy name change). Using Renee Montoya as a fed, who potentially had a relationship with Gordon’s fiancé messes up serious canon timelines, but the fact that Montoya is there at all excites me. Overall the show has huge promise, both for one off episodes and an over-arching storyline. It’s not going to be your standard Batman show, but rather a look at the sickness that was so prevalent in Gotham when Bruce was a child that it created Batman in time. This is probably the new show I am most excited about this season and I can’t wait to see what Easter eggs the writers and producers slip into each episode.

Random Tuesday: American Gods Is Back On, Lots of Batman Things & Good Books

No preamble today, just the best random thing I've heard this week - Starz has picked up the American Gods adaptation and Bryan Fuller has signed on to be co-showrunner. This thing just might happen after all.

Speaking of book to television adaptations, did anyone watch The Leftovers on Sunday? It felt really bland and empty to me, so I was wondering if anyone else had thoughts about it. Share in the comments if you watched it!

I haven't read this review of The Girl With All the Gifts because I'm currently reading the book, so I'm just going to leave this here for when I finish. I'm about half way done and all I can say is I do not recommend reading it while eating or right before bed. Even the author warned me! 

So first FOX picked up the Egyptian adventure series Hieroglyph and then they cancelled it months before it was even supposed to air. FOX business practices are weird.

Samantha over at I <3 YA Fiction is discussing bookish pet peeves. Go weigh in on insta-love, love triangles and more items that drive Samantha nuts. My worst pet peeve is probably asshat love interests that need to be punched in the face and yet are somehow desirable.

io9's compilation of many of the fantasy and science fiction books coming out in July. Because our TBR piles needed some new additions, right?

Because Gotham didn't already have enough comic series associated with it, DC is launching two more, including a YA-aimed series taking place in Gotham's most prestigeous boarding school. I rolled my eyes, then saw that Becky Cloonan is writing it and now... I'm probably going to have to read it.

Also in Batman, this is the cover for Batman Eternal #15, created by Dustin Nguyen. I want a big copy, so I hope he has prints for sale at SDCC. You can follow Dustin over on Tumblr.

Speaking of DC, the television branch associated with Warner Brothers announced yesterday that they are doing a MASSIVE panel at Comic Con that will cover Arrow, Constantine, Gotham and Flash. It will include screening both Gotham and The Flash, and I am already having panic attacks at the thought of what I will have to do to get into that panel. Comic Con doesn't start for more than three weeks.

 

I'm going to go lurk on some Comic Con news sites. What awesome random things have you found recently?

Review: Li'l Gotham Volume 1 by Dustin Nguyen & Derek Fridolfs

Li'l Gotham: Volume 1
Dustin Nguyen & Derek Fridolfs

DC Comics
I received an e-ARC from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Released February 25, 2014
128 pages

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

These gorgeously drawn and painted all-ages tales feature all of your favorite Gotham City characters: Batman, Robin, Nightwing, Catwoman, The Joker, The Penguin and many others!  

First up, Robin needs Batman's help to learn the true meaning of Halloween. Then, on Thanksgiving, Batman and Robin join the families of Gotham City around the table for a holiday feast--and birds of a feather flock together to stage a march against the city...led by The Penguin!  As Christmas time approaches, the search for a missing holiday choir leads Batman and Nightwing into a confrontation with Mr. Freeze! But in this heartfelt Christmas tale, the frozen fiend's motives aren't as nefarious as they seem...

And on a festive New Year's Eve, Catwoman thinks she'll be spending a quiet night at home, contemplating her New Year's resolutions--until Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn show up, that is!

This volume collects stories from Detective Comics Annual #11, Batman Annual #27, Batman: Li'l Gotham Digital chapters 1-11.

This is an odd and adorable li’l series. It’s all your favorite Gothamites at their cutest in all-ages friendly adventures. The comic series was originally released as digital one offs on holidays, and each li’l story takes place on that holiday. So you have a story about mothers on Mother’s Day, a story involving rabbits and eggs on Easter, and so on. It’s a great idea of an all-ages comic and did I mention that these characters are ADORABLE?

The trio of Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and a reluctant Catwoman is now my favorite thing in the Bat-verse that isn’t Dick Grayson/Barbara Gordon-related. Their New Year’s Eve story had me in giggle fits and caused a sudden desire to see if there are any other stories that toss these three femme fatales together for crazy antics. Another giggle-inducing story was the Valentine’s Day issue where the Joker accidentally spills a pheromone-based love potion on himself and the ladies of Gotham go a little crazy.

Read More

Random Tuesday Returns and Everything Is Awesome (Except for Mean Comic Book Workers)

Is it possible? Has Random Tuesday finally returned? Are you about to get a face full of random things? Why, yes, you are. But first, have an ear worm.

You're welcome.

Noelle Stevenson, aka Gingerhaze, is one of my favorite fan artists, except now she's not just a fan artist, but a real comic creator. She created a short comic yesterday about her time visiting a comic book store that didn't go so well. Luckily we're priviledged to have Austin Books & Comics within a short drive, a comic book store staffed with incredibly generous and knowledgable staff of men and women. I have, however, had less pleasant experiences at other shops in the area, occassionally feeling like I was an alien that had stumbled upon a hidden secret planet where I DID NOT BELONG.

Of course said comic then led to some priviledged asshats coming out of the dark cobwebbed areas of the internet to be even more priviledged and more asshatty (totally a word). The formatting on that Tumblr post is a little messed up, so it's difficult to find where the writer changes, but it doesn't really matter.

So yes, drama on the internet. That's new. If you're looking for a female-friendly comic book store in your area, this Tumblr called Hater Free Wednesdays has a list of shops to check out.

But this isn't random enough. We NEED MORE RANDOM!

io9 has a sneak peak of a Game of Thrones art show that's going to be in Seattle in March. You can several of the GOT inspired pieces here.

Speaking of GOT exhibits, there is a HBO sponsored exhibit of pieces from the show going to several places around the global, including our hometown of Austin. Fernando is excited, but I have no idea how this is going to work with South by Southwest happening at the same time. Bets on if Ned's head will be included?

Between his Facebook and Twitter, Stephen Amell is quickly becoming my new favorite celebrity. I mean, seriously, this guy...

 

 

 

Marissa Meyer released a short story based on The Little Mermaid to celebrate the release of Cress, her third book in the Lunar Chronicles series. If you haven't read these books yet, stop what you're doing and go get them.

Lots of people are getting cast for the Flash pilot. I can't even begin to explain how excited about this series and have all my fingers and toes crossed that it happens. (found via TheMarySue.com)

Speaking of possible new television series, a lot of people are getting cast for Gotham as well. I have no idea how this is going to be a television show, but I'm game. (found via EW.com)

And finally, have steampunk Batgirl by Mahmud Asrar. You can find more of his work at his Deviant Art profile.

Random Tuesday: Not So Mild Celebrity Obsession, Superhero Origins, Robots on TV & Other Randomosity

I go through these weird and obsessive phases where an author or actor or musician takes up residence in my head and refuses to leave. They normally park right in the middle of my brain for a few weeks before wandering off as randomly as they wandered in, leaving behind an imprint of fannish glee.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, it's okay. I'm not entire sure what I'm talking about either. Despite that, the actor who has recently taken residence in my brain and set up a semi-permanent shop of crazy is this guy:

It's become a bit of a problem. He's the prime reason I ended up on Tumblr and gifs snuck into my post about readership age and YA. I keep stumbling across Youtube and finding videos and that's a blackhole to nowhere. Next thing you know, it's five days later and you're twitching. 

We even went to see that movie that bombed over the weekend because he was in it and I only giggled hysterically a little bit. The movie was a bit of a mess and all over the place, but he was really good. Then again with him living in my head, I would say that, wouldn't I?

Yes, it's a problem. And now that I've watched too much stuff on Youtube, I've come to the conclusion that he's kind of a strange guy, which probably means he's probably going to stay camped out in prime brainspace for much longer than he should. Because apparently I have a thing for strange people (see ongoing obsession with Misha Collins).

Seriously - this is starting to become a problem. Somebody get me off of Tumblr and Youtube. So in an attempt to not think about that guy for ten or twenty minutes, let's think about other random things.

Like Under Armour creating superhero workout clothes that I desperately want even though my walks around the neighborhood couldn't really be considered "working out". 

Mike Maihack created another Supergirl / Batgirl comic that's adorably appropriate. (Found via TheMarySue.com)

io9 found this website that has some great Halloween costumes that will prevent you from catching hypothermia, unlike anything you'd find from Party City. 

Almost Human's debut got postponed two weeks until November 17, which bums me out a little because that pilot is pretty sweet and I want more Karl Urban right now, thank you.

I still haven't forgiven Cartoon Network for cancelling Young Justice and now all signs point to a cancellation for Beware the Batman. Boooooo Cartoon Network. I want my weekly cartoon Batman! (From io9)

This Ender's Game concept art really belongs on my walls. It's gorgeous.

Speaking of things that belong on my wall, these posters about the origins of some of geekdom's favorite characters. I really wish I'd found out about this Kickstarter when it was still active because I would have thrown money at it. (Found via SoGeekChic.com)

And now I'm going to try to be productive and read some library books. If you have random, link up in the comments to distract me from that guy living inside my head.

I'm never getting anything done again.

Gifs made by Tumblr people like this one. I have no idea how to properly credit Tumblr people. Someone want to give me an edicate lesson?