Stephanie Brown’s first night in the new Batgirl uniform, and when you’re sanctioned by the original, there’s bound to be some conflict – and a big bad at the end of the level.

batgirl4cover.jpgBatgirl #4
Written by Bryan Q. Miller
Art by Lee Garbett and Trevor Scott
Cover by Phil Noto

For those who were concerned that Stephanie Brown could never fill the shoes of the original Batgirl, or even come close to being able to kick-ass like Cassandra Cain, this issue should end all doubt among the naysayers.  I was one of the most disappointed when Cassandra left the job, but after this issue, I’m glad there’s a character who’s written in such a way that there is humor and action that a reader can get in to – especially with all the death and destruction currently raining down on the DCU.

There are plenty of fun moments in this issue; from the snarky exchanges Stephanie has with Barbara, to the Batman Begins-esque moment where Batgirl takes down a bad guy in a holding lot.  The issue even includes an “aaawwww” moment as a young girl gives Stephanie a quick pep talk, which encourages her to take on the issues big bad – Livewire.  With all the encounters heroes have had with Livewire over time, it’s no surprise when Livewire’s prime power is rendered useless by a well insulated suit.

From beginning to end, Stephanie runs the gauntlet from small time thugs to major villain, and still makes it back home in time to try and finish her homework for her computer class the next morning. If this is the type of stories we can expect in the future, then I can easily see Batgirl climbing to the sales charts to the coveted Top 40 before you know it.

It’s unfortunate Stephanie has to hide her secret identity from her mother.  I know readers have been through that drama before, but considering she’s doing the good work, and has some supervision, one might expect the mother to be a little bit more understanding of the situation. It was a nice touch to add in the bit where Batgirl recovers her mother’s purse and returns it without being seen.

Complementing the strong story is equally great art by Lee Garbett, who brings a style that I like in my comic books. The guys have strong jaws, and rugged builds, while the women look like real women, not the overly plasticized pin-up model one finds in the gentlemen’s magazines.  The poses look natural, the facial expressions work, and Garbett fills the panel without crowding the area readers are looking at.

I went into this issue with some concern, but by issue’s end, I’m convinced that this creative team can bring readers interesting and compelling Batgirl stories, without resorting to the tee-hee stories, damsel in distress that needs to be rescued by The Man, or a story where the hero gets beaten to death by Black Mask – although that will be an interesting story when we get to it, and I believe we will get to it.  While many may not care for the fast, choppy style of the story telling, I think it works to show how busy Stephanie is going to be as the new Batgirl.

Batgirl #4 is a really solid issue, and deserves to be on one’s Must Read Pile, earning a solid 4.5 out of 5 Stars.



About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

1 Comment

  1. I’ve been one of the most vocal detractors of BatSteph, and… Hell. Even I hadda good time reading this. I still can’t dig the whole “Blonde Batgirl” look though, I’m sorry. I mean, I’m not gonna count that as a “serious flaw with the book” or anything, but just imagine if Ollie Queen put on the Batsuit without shaving the mustache/goatee combo, and you’ll have the same sort of visual disconnect goin’ on. I can even get over the purple plating in the suit (thanks to being raised on 1960s Batgirl-featuring episodes of Batman), but the blond hair just gets stuck in my eyeball. Oh well, if Stephie keeps quipping, I guess I can cope. :)

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