Written by: Hope Larson
Art by: Rafael Albuquerque
Since the launch of Rebirth, Hope Larson’s work on Batgirl has been a strong addition to DC’s talent lineup. Her writing outside of DC is filled with emotion and self discovery. Chiggers (2008) and Mercury (2010) both contain strong narratives and have earned Larson’s work a place in any library’s teen graphic novel collection. Larson’s ability to tell a meaningful story transcends a teenage audience and can resonant with many who still recall the challenges of growing into an adult. Larson’s stint on Batgirl fits well into that body of work. The first six months of Batgirl contain themes relating to growing up, longing for youth, and realizing everyone has more to learn.
Larson’s initial story arc had Barbara Gordon on a roadtrip through parts of Asia that created opportunities for the character to grow as a hero and to wrestle with parts of her past. Unlike the past five issues which had Barbara hoping from country to country to solve a mystery, this is a self-contained tale. Issue #6 finds that roadtrip wrapping up and Barbara returning to home, but no plane trip for a hero is ever a simple plane trip. Larson uses this issue to create a team up with Poison Ivy, who happens to be on the same plane. While the plot serves as a transition for Barbara to return to Burnside in issue #7, it provides a fun stand alone adventure.
Poison Ivy is more reasonable and rationale in this issue than she is often portrayed in the mainline Batman titles. The pairing of Barbara and Ivy create an opportunity for some witty dialogue, a little life threatening action, and ultimately a timely bit of teamwork. Rafael Albuquerque’s artwork remains as consistent and understated as the previous five issues. Albuquerque’s artwork captures the excitement and athleticism of Barbara’s Batgirl and treats Poison Ivy with subtlety and respect.
The only downside to this self-contained joyride is the logic at the end of the book that finds Barbara back in civilian clothes awaking next to Ivy. The implication suggests that Poison Ivy changed Batgirl’s costume back into Barbara Gordon and presumably now knows her identity. As a long time Gotham resident, Ivy would recognize Jim Gordon’s daughter. Whether this becomes a future plot point or is a simple continuity slip for narrative convenience is yet to be determined. But the Penguin teaser at the end of this issue should have readers coming back to find out.
Larson continues to write Barbara as a strong woman, confident in herself and yet still unsure of her true abilities. Like Larson’s other works, Batgirl’s initial arc provided a strong narrative for any gender. Larson’s Batgirl is an excellent read for anyone turning to comics for characters and stories. After suspending disbelief, Batgirl #6 is a fun ride and an easy boarding point for new readers.