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Comics Today's Date:

THE NEW 52, Week 2:
Batgirl #1

Sure, relaunching the entire line of comics would be controversial, but one back seemed to take more heat than the others -- Batgirl #1. After all, for over twenty years the character of Barbara Gordon has been in a wheelchair, the result of an horrific run-in with the Joker. It's not exactly that the loss of her legs has defined her, but that she has continued to be a crime fighter and valued member of Bat-family despite her physical status that has made her inspirational.

So suddenly, Barbara Gordon can walk again. And though just a month ago in another universe Stephanie Brown swung through the high rises of Gotham as Batgirl, Barbara has the suit on and is once more the Dominoed Daredoll.

Without being able to pick up the book and read Gail Simone's take, readers have been outraged. Yet as inspiring as Barbara has been to tens of thousands of readers (let's not kid ourselves about sales of Birds of Prey, as excellent as that book had been), it has never made sense that Barbara would be wheelchair-bound. Somebody somewhere in the DC Universe would have been able to heal the injury.

And so as Batgirl #1 opens, Simone clearly defines that Barbara had been in the chair for three years since the Joker shot her. Though not overtly stated, it seems that she has only recently regained the use of her legs and we're seeing her first public appearance back as Batgirl. (She references having fantastic upper arm strength.)

As a jumping on point, which is after all the point, this works. Simone offers what most people think they know about Batgirl. Her father is Commissioner Gordon, she knows Batman, and she has pretty good fighting and acrobatic skills. However, they are a bit rusty.

Though Simone opens a few questions, she uses this book as the way they used to be. Barbara's new status quo is completely set; she takes down some bored college kids on a murder spree, though it's not easy. She gains a new villain who is able to prey upon her psychic trauma.

And that's pretty believable. Barbara may be recovering physically, but she has literally never been in a position to relive the moment of her injury (though of course it's played out over and over in her mind).

This book really does have the potential to become a top seller, and not just because of a beautiful cover by Adam Hughes. All of the women of the DC Universe have boasted that at one time or another. Batgirl #1 has great writing and great interior art by the team of Ardian Syaf and Vicente Sifuentes.

Though this may not be the intent, it could (and should!) easily bring in the The Hunger Games and Twilight crowd with Barbara Gordon being such a strong and complex character. Oh, and the old fans will be pleased, too.

Derek McCaw

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