I’m having a blast with the new Batgirl, Stephanie Brown. The first four-issue story arc has concluded, and a new one begins in the latest issue, #5. Bryan Miller has made Stephanie his own, infusing her with a young personality that plays out well against the experienced Barbara Gordon (the original Batgirl for any latecomers) and the whole Bat-universe. She’s college age in the series, and her snarkiness about life and college is at once endearing.
But before I go any further in this review, I have to give accolades to Lee Garbett and Trevor Scott, the interior artists. Phil Noto knocked himself out on the explosive character, but Garbett and Scott definitely keep the pages turning. Their rendition of Gotham City and all the action inherent in the scenes is exquisite. There’s a tremendous amount of detail, and the color put in by Guy Major over Sandra Hope and Oliver Nome’s inks is fantastic. The pages pop with vibrancy action. Artistically speaking, Batgirl is getting to be one of my favorite comics.
In one quick introductory page, Miller launches his readers into the latest adventure of Stephanie’s life. All of this is done through dialogue, but Garbett builds his scenes around the word balloons and they turn almost invisible against the backdrop of impending action.
Diesel is a new villain in the Batworld as far as I know. I haven’t seen him before, and he’s kind of interesting. The danger to Batgirl is immediate, but Stephanie takes it all in with fun aplomb and biting humor. The splash page of her stepping through the flames is amazing, and you’re almost willing to overlook that in the real world her hair would be singed.
The arrival of Batman and Robin, especially with Diesel’s cutting remark, is a hoot. And the art is dynamite. But the miscued teamwork is even funnier. I like Damian as Robin, though I was at first against the idea. Now I think the new team of Dick Grayson as Batman and Damian as Robin is an excellent idea. I like how they grate against each other, and since Stephanie is closer in age to Damian, they make perfect foils for each other.
Miller also lays down multiple plotlines with this issue. Not only is there the menace of Diesel and the ongoing feud with ex-lover Dick Grayson, but her dad is trying to set her up with a new detective on the force. And Stephanie’s college life looks like it’s going to be a part of the series as well, which is a welcome addition to round out her character.
The real kicker in this book is the second confrontation between Stephanie and Damian. I love the animosity and rivalry between them, and I can’t wait to see how it plays out in the series. His drawing in the snow was fantastically funny, and so Damian. Garbett and Scott’s choice of poses for Stephanie during this encounter is so much the stuff of teen drama, I had to go back, look at it again, and laugh some more.
The ending is a shocker, and I resent having to wait a whole month to find out what happens next. But if you haven’t gotten caught up with the new Batgirl, you’re missing something impressive.