Comic Review: Batgirl #11 / Writer: Gail Simone / Art: Ardian Syaf / Publisher: DC / Release Date: Out Now
Nearly a year after the launch of the latest Batgirl title as a part of DC’s New 52, writer Gail Simone has yet to deliver anything short of brilliance. As a stalwart fan of Bryan Q. Miller’s Batgirl with Stephanie Brown in the titular role, I admit that I had been skeptical about former Oracle, Barbara Gordon, once again taking up the mantle of the Bat, but Simone has proven that it’s generally unwise to underestimate her.
After spending years writing Oracle during her run on Birds of Prey, Simone understands the complexities of Barbara Gordon’s character better than most and in her hands, Batgirl’s voice rings true. One of the main concerns that fans had with Barbara transforming from the wheelchair bound Oracle into Batgirl was that the character’s experience as an individual dealing with a disability would be erased. While Babs is once again flying high above the rooftops of Gotham City, the scars from her shooting, both physical and mental, still run deep, and her internal struggles are oftentimes harder to overcome than the costumed foes she faces in combat. Simone writes a character that is uncompromisingly human and, at times, heartbreakingly vulnerable. This Batgirl is everything Barbara Gordon should be: clever, charming, and fiercely stubborn in the face of overwhelming odds.
Batgirl #11 begins with the introduction of Barbara’s latest foe, Knightfall (perhaps a nod to the Batman story arc of the same name, in which another broken Bat struggles to put himself back together again after a catastrophic injury). Simone’s run on Batgirl has been populated by multidimensional villains and this one is no exception. Knightfall is the kind of villain who believes she’s on the path of righteousness and that the ends justify the means, no matter how costly. The physical and ethical clash between Batgirl and Knightfall is brought to life by penciller Ardian Syaf, back on solo art duties after a few issues completed with Alitha Martinez, inker Vicente Cifuentes, and colorist Ulises Arreola who create a sleek, polished aesthetic that consistently incorporates Batgirl’s trademark colors, making sure the book is a standout amongst DC’s various Bat titles.
Simone outdoes herself with nearly every issue and Batgirl #11 is no exception. A surprise visit from another member of the Bat-family on the very last page will make the month long wait for issue #12 feel impossibly long.