Gail Simone and Ardian Syaf have restored Batgirl to a position of prominence within comics. The character’s story was restarted in the new ‘Batgirl’ series from DC Comics and now the character is an example of a hero triumphant over more than just the villain of the month. Batgirl has returned from an act of violence that crippled her and left her in a wheelchair. She recovered but it took time and the perseverance she shows gets her not only back on her feet but doing the impossible, fighting crime in Gotham City.
Batgirl: the Darkest Reflection collects the first six issues of the new ‘Batgirl’ series. Simone and Syaf explore who Barbara Gordon is in and out of the cape. Barbara was attacked in her home by the Joker who shot and paralyzed her. As Barbara recuperated from the assault she was confined to a wheelchair. Those wounds have healed but the scars are still there and Barbara must overcome them every time she dons the cape and cowl.
Simone, the writer, explores the psyche of Batgirl who has managed to put her life back together after a miraculous recovery that enabled her to return to crime fighting. Batgirl has a new lease on life and wants to spread her wings, but the people who should support her, Batman and ex-boyfriend, the former boy wonder, Nightwing want to rein her in and protect her. Batgirl must overcome her own doubts and those of her friends to become the hero she wants to be.
Syaf’s artwork captures the action, emotion and drama of this story. Whether it is a kick thrown by Batgirl flying through a window, or the pain Barbara feels about hiding her life as Batgirl from her father Syaf is able to convey the differing nuances of this story through his artwork.
In the third chapter Batgirl meets up with Nightwing. They engage in a game of tag on the rooftops of Gotham City that allows you to see their bodies move with the fluidity of natural gymnasts flying across the page jumping from rooftop to rooftop in a cat and mouse game. With just the art on the page Syaf reinforces the dynamic Simone is going for with Batgirl and the other heroes of Gotham as the art tells the story of these two heroes.
It was no small feat for DC Comics to return the character of Barbara Gordon to the roll of Batgirl. For more than two decades other heroines have tried to fill the boots of Batgirl to varying degrees of success, but none lived up to the legend of Barbara Gordon. Barbara had been paralyzed and despite this disability had become a contributing member of the super hero community as Oracle. Simone and Syaf do not take this change in Barbara’s role lightly the writer and artist show that her time in a wheelchair had a deep impact on her life and the wounds physical and mental did not just go away.
Batgirl: the Darkest Reflection is a look at the impact the life of a hero has and the sacrifices heroes make to do what they do. There are many different influences on Batgirl throughout the story but it is her perseverance that makes this a great read.