““Beyond Burnside” Chapter One: The Batgirl you know and love is going global with Eisner Award-winning and New York Times best-selling writer Hope Larson (A Wrinkle in Time, Goldie Vance) and all-star artist Rafael Albuquerque (AMERICAN VAMPIRE). In order to up her game, Babs travels to Japan on a quest to train with the most elite modern combat masters of the East. But when a chance meeting with an old friend puts a target on her back, Batgirl may need to use her new skills to solve a deadly mystery.”
Written By: Hope Larson
Art By: Rafael Albuquerque
Colors by: Dave McCaig
DC Comics brings the all-star group of, Rafael Albuquerque, Hope Larson and Dave McCaig together with Batgirl #1 as Barbara Gordon is back and this time has gone “Beyond Burnside” and taken on Japan in a journey of self-improvement and to search for the former superhero, Fruit Bat.
Personally, I am for the change of scenery. We have seen every aspect of Gotham covered throughout Batman, Detective Comics, etc, and although Burnside is more of the Brooklyn to Gotham, it’s great to see Babs go on a “vacation.” This opens the door for the introduction of new villains as well as allies. Here is where ex-superhero Fruit Bat comes into the picture, as Babs is interested in meeting the iconic superhero and potentially being mentored by her.
While trying to adjust to this new environment, Babs can’t help but have her mind back home in Burnside, that’s until she runs into an old childhood friend, Kai. Talk about a coincidence. Majority of the issue focuses around their friendship and Babs getting better acquainted with her surroundings and the Island.
Of course, Babs comes across some trouble along the way and immediately has to suit up in her Batgirl attire. She is attacked by another acrobat in some type of school girl outfit and clown make up. Yes, I said clown, but not that type of clown. This is when Babs witnesses Chiyo Yamashiro’s aka Fruit Bat’s skills outrank her own and this mysterious attacker and Babs are immediately impressed. So much so she asks for Chiyo to be her Yoda. This scene is important to mention not only for Larson’s great storytelling but Aluquerque doing a wonderful job at portraying the high flying acrobatics between the characters as people and objects begin to fly. Colorist Dave McCaig also uses much more toned down colors than the previous run of Batgirl. A lot of greens, browns and oranges used, yet still managing to make Babs stand out as soon as she puts on the purple suit.
Of all the changes we have seen in the past couple of months, especially with Rebirth rolling out, I am glad they continued to stick with Tarr/Stewart’s costume design. On the other side of that, one thing I did notice and am highly appreciative of is this version of Babs seems to be much more confident, she is intelligent and overall kick-ass. Although, I enjoyed Stewart, Tarr and Fletcher’s run, at times it was too light-hearted and whimsical for my taste.
Albuquerque brilliantly nails every facial expression and the body language between the characters, bringing Larson’s writing to life. I’ve been a huge fan of Rafael’s since his run in Blue Beetle, so this was something I have been anticipating since the announcement that he would be joining BG. Larson’s clearly setting us up for something much bigger and as soon as the issue is over, had me longing to read more. Deron Bennet also does a great job with the lettering, providing the clever transition from English to Japanese by adding the extra details in the word bubbles.
Batgirl #1 is a great start as Barbara sets off on a new journey, without losing sight of her roots. This is just the beginning and have yet to tap into the surface of what’s to come but its become clear that the creative team and come up with an exciting plan for Babs that will please fans, old and new.Larson and Albuquerque seemed to be the perfect pair for a high-energentic, and positive character such as Babs. I believe we have found the perfect tempo for a Batgirl series. One thing is for sure, no matter where Barbara goes, trouble is there to greet her. I definitely plan to continuing this series. If you are a fan of Batgirl, I would suggest doing the same.