REVIEW: Batgirl Annual #1

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DC continues pumping out the annuals as of late, and has just released BATGIRL ANNUAL #1. With a major storyline just wrapped in the ongoing, this special issue offers another jumping-on point for new readers. With a high price-point, is this issue worth your attention or is it better left on the store shelves? Join Major Spoilers for the review…

BATGIRL ANNUAL #1
Writer: Gail Simone
Art and Colors: Admira Wijaya and Daniel Sampere
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99

Previously in BATGIRL:  Over the last several issues, Batgirl has been wrapped up in a battle of wits and weapons against new villain Knightfall. Knightfall posed a very serious threat to Babs, and was almost a dark-mirror version of our heroine. Still, Batgirl came out on top, and the character is poised to join in with the Bat-books’ “Death of the Family” crossover beginning this month.

MORE REWRITTEN HISTORY IN THE NEW 52…WHICH ISN’T NECESSARILY A BAD THING

BATGIRL ANNUAL #1 tries to do a lot of things in its 37 pages of story. The primary plot is concerned with furthering the “Court of Owls” storyline. The issue takes a look at the fate of the Talon that battled Barbara Gordon during the “Night of the Owls.” While she is locked up in a Gotham prison, she is beginning to resist her programming. Enter Catwoman, who has been hired to free the assassin and escort her back to the Owls. Eventually, Catwoman’s job brings her into contact with Batgirl, which is the first meeting of the two females in the New 52 timeline.

There are some pretty big “set pieces” in this book which give it the feel of a great action-adventure movie. However, the characterization is very hit-and-miss. Batgirl comes off as extremely bland in this issue. Despite Catwoman, the female Talon, and a battle against more assassins and an Owl, she just isn’t given much to do. For those wanting to learn more about the titular character, this is pretty disappointing. On the other hand, Catwoman is written superbly in this book. It’s my opinion that she’s written much better in this book than she has been in her own series since issue #1. It’s a great look at Catwoman and her motivations, one that hopefully continues as Catwoman will get more focus in the New 52 later this year. The focus on the Court of Owls and the new Talon feels a bit repetitive. We’ve seen this play out (and better, I might add) in the Talon series, and though there is a horrific end in store for the Owl this issue, it’s nothing new.

GOOD ART WITH A JARRING MOMENT

Wijaya’s art is nice…The characters look very sleek and move like liquid, which is befitting of both Catwoman and Batgirl. Characters are depicted cleanly and the colors pop, which help because of the aforementioned big action sequences. However, midway through the book, Sampere fills in on a few pages and the change is obvious and unwelcome. Characters’ faces become unrealistic and oddly-shaped. The action becomes muddied and dark. Thankfully, the book switches back to Wijaya for the climax.

BOTTOM LINE: A “POPCORN” ADVENTURE WITH A BIT OF FILLER

It’s hard to recommend purchasing this book, especially at its high price point. The Court of Owls had their moment in the Bat-books, and it was superb, but they need some time to recover their status as a threat to Gotham. Again, Catwoman’s moments really stood out in this book, but Batgirl’s face-time suffered as a result. With the Joker’s return happening in the ongoing titles, skipping this book is a safe bet. Even those looking for a jumping-on point would be better served, both by story and cost, by picking up the next issue of Batgirl.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

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