Batgirl Volume 1: The Darkest Reflection Review

A kinder, softer and flawed superhero in Gotham who will give readers a more real hero to follow and enjoy.

Overview

This is my first ever Batgirl book and also the first ever book where Barbara Gordon isn’t paralysed. I have already purchased Batgirl Rebirth #1 before I read that starting with the New 52 may be better to help me understand.

Of course I am aware of who Barbara Gordon is and Batgirl but never in too much depth and only as a secondary character. I was intrigued and excited to find out what someone else in the Batman family get up to in their spare time.

Batgirl: The Darkest Reflection TP 01 collects Batgirl #1-#6 from the New 52 series.

Batgirl (New 52), Volume 1: The Darkest Reflection TP Review

Batgirl #1: The Darkest Reflection

Batgirl #1 opens up introducing the first arc’s villain; Mirror hence the name Darkest Reflection, and he seems to have a list of potential kills with one already struck off, the first is Graham Carter who may or may not have killed his crew in a maritime accident. Graham Carter is then killed in similar ways to his crewman – drowning – at the hands of Mirror and a water hose.

We can see that Barbara Gordon is next on the list but surely her rap sheet is clean and won’t go down as easily as Carter. At least that’ what I thought at the moment. It’s a decent opening and a bit different than usual – regularly, Batman books open with a fight scene before exploring the beginning of the arc. This isn’t a criticism but more of an observation.

From the first big image of Batgirl (she looks amazing) she looks like she enjoys it a lot more than say Dick or even Tim. And her Batsuit is badass. This is somewhat of an omen of things to come as while it feels that  Bruce and Dick view crime fighting as a necessity Batgirl finds it more fun and carefree.

Batgirl #1
She’s Back!

Her first bust when she busts open the Brisby killers plan to kill a small family she’s full of attitude and badass. However, she is nowhere near the level of Batman and makes a couple of mistakes and got off lucky.

There’s a recap to the event where she was paralysed three years ago by the Joker which clarifies that that did happen and it’s not a total reboot. Barbara is living with James Gordon now and still can’t shake off that night, reminds me of how some of the Robins never got over Two face or Jason never getting over what happened with Joker.

She soon leaves the nest to have her independence again since being able to walk and moves in with an activist. You could say they both are activists. It’s unclear at this point just how long she’s had her legs back.

Mirror finds his next target in the hospital and goes full frontal assault, killing a couple in the process. Batgirl is on night duty and grabs her kick ass bike and heads over. She’s on that list but I wonder if Mirror knows Barbara Gordon is also Batgirl?

Towards the end of the fracas Mirror seemingly points the gun at the same place joker did 3 years ago. As Batgirl froze, mirror gets the time to push the intended target Theodore Rankin out the window. Mirror could have killed Batgirl then and there but didn’t, which suggests her real identity isn’t known to him or her…or she got off lightly.

Batgirl #1 is a great opening chapter, absolutely brilliant. Fragile and interesting character. Cocky but she felt real. The art work is full of colour and detail as is the case with all the New 52 books I’ve read so far.

Batgirl #2

The writers have made it clear that she is woefully out of practice and I suspect Bruce doesn’t know she’s out, he wouldn’t allow her out this early. This fact can get frustrating at times for a Batman reader, we know how serious Bruce is and how careful he can be with his partners post-Jason and yet here is Batgirl making serious mistakes.

Mirror says she is on the list which confirms he knows both of her identities. This is never revealed as to why – another sticking point to me.

Batgirl Anxious
Anxious?

Mirror and Batgirl have a scrap, she holds her own but is seriously outmatched. If it wasn’t for the police sirens she would have been battered, and she (we) knows it. The colours in this book are magnificent and the rainy battle between the both looked absolutely stunning. One of the highlight scenes from #1-#6.

Batgirl recovers in her new apartment before going on a date with her therapist. You don’t often get to see this side of the bat when reading Bruce- then again that’s why he’s never rusty… but these are the moments in Batgirl I enjoy the moments – not when she is in the suit but when she isn’t and shows her human side.

Rusty physically, maybe, but Batgirl isn’t rusty mentally and quickly finds some answers to the identity of Mirror and tracks him down and works him out now his identity is revealed and even his motives. He sounds like a Final Destination type of guy, killing people who narrowly missed death just because he survived a horrible accident while he watched his family not be as lucky. To me, his motives are nonsensical and not well thought out, he had a motive and suddenly became a super intelligent killer?

Mirror doesn’t have any powers, his “ability” is essentially a mirror inside the jacket. If Nightwing, Batman or even Robin took the guy on he would have been down a long time ago and it’s Barbara’s childish and out of practice skills that had given Mirror more time do what he’s doing than what he should have. Nevertheless, it is a very enjoyable read and especially enjoyable to look at

Batgirl #3

Yet again she goes steaming ahead with no plan and won’t (can’t) ask for help. Lives are on the line here and she is uncharacteristically brash- she would never recommend this to the others when she was in the chair. This is a sticking point throughout the book that takes away from an otherwise great book, she’s now

Batgirl and nightwing
With Nightwing

in another situation where lives at risk and Mirror has planted a bomb on a tram – The bomb explodes and people must have died, Batgirl has failed miserably by the hand of a villain who at best is average.

Batgirl continues to chase Mirror while she’s out her depth and lived have maybe been lost. Still not called it in. Reckless.

Nightwing makes an appearance and shows he cares, when asked if she can take Mirror on her own she doesn’t answer and takes a cheap shot to get away. She is out of her depth and needs to prove she isn’t by taking it all the way. They both show their youthfulness and flirt a bit, more so by Barbara. How old is she supposed to be?

Nightwing gets to the point and lets her know people are worried, I assume Batman knows what she’s up to but hasn’t stepped in. Nightwing leaves her to it. Madness.

Batgirl #4

So it would seem that Barbara is being targeted by Mirror because of the miracle of being able to walk again when she shouldn’t and so many others are not as fortunate. Does that mean Mirror doesn’t mean to kill but paralyse? Would explain the aim of the gun in the other chapter. This is not explored again.

She opens up to Alysia (her housemate). I wonder if she’ll end up being some kind of mole or a genuinely good, new character? It makes such a welcome change for the Batman family to have non heroes as friends sometimes. Allows the characters, in this case Barbara, to open up and show what they’re like without the suit on – as mentioned previously some of the better parts of The Darkest Reflection are when the suit’s off.

Batgirl gets a chance to bust some chops to speed up the chapter and it’s quite welcome, but I find the talk about the legs does get a bit boring. We get it, she is finding it hard to get over. Her losing her legs is the equivalent of Batman losing his parents.

Batgirl, for once, gets the upper hand and tries to take control of the situation. After careful planning and some fight skills batgirl gets Mirror in cuffs and makes him face his problems. Glad it’s come to an end and glad it was easy as Mirror was hardly a big time villain and Batgirls lack of practice flattered him a bit

Right at the death Barbara’s mum rocks up which was a frustrating change of pace and distraction, it almost seemed forced to give Batgirl a personal sub plot on top of what was going on.

#4 was a welcome end to the Mirror arc and on to pastures new. Hopefully now with a bit more depth and a better motive for the adversary.

Batgirl #5

Doesn’t take long to get right in the action but once again people die on Batgirls watch and she gets beaten up again, this time by new perp Gretel. She has not had much luck at all in The Darkest Reflection.

Batgirl in the chair
Yes, we get it…

Throughout the book Barbara had an inner monologue and she’s always questioning herself, doubting and worrying. It’s amazing she is still allowed to roam the streets by Batman and co to be honest.

Revisits Barbara’s mother leaving, I remember her mother from the early days of Year One, Long Halloween etc but I haven’t the foggiest about her leaving at this point.

Barbara thinks Bruce Wayne could be the target of the crazed psycho due to the 338 business. These are new bad guys brainwashed by Gretel who just repeat “338” before proceeding to just kill people. Surely Bruce will be fine without her help? Surely he keeps an overall eye on everything? It turns out he wasn’t.

After a brief scuffle and Bruce Wayne taken into a crash, Gretel reveals that Bruce Wayne himself has been brainwashed before the chapter ends. Can’t see Bruce Wayne ever falling for that! If you’ve read Batman’s New 52 series you’d know that he is switched on and not easily bamboozled…

Batgirl #6

Apprehending Gretel
Apprehending Gretel

Not an awful lot happens in Batgirl #6 to be honest. Barbara subdues Bruce and brings him back to his senses confirming the unlikely event that he was brainwashed by Gretel and her gun (!) but is capable of resisting the likes of Scarecrow. Batgirl then proceeds to non violently bring Gretel down before letting the authorities take care of the rest. Gretel, it turns out, hasn’t been treated well by Gotham City and its crime world and survives her horrible ordeal before turning to revenge against the world.

Summary

Batgirls beginnings in the New 52 series is off to a shaky start. She’s troubled and anxious following her recovery and her return to the cape and cowl is a shaky one. It’s certainly been written to be different to Batman but often forgets it’s still a part of the Gotham lore and plot holes and mistakes will be picked up by fans. Still, it’s positives do outweigh the negatives and there’s certainly a lot more promise in this first collected edition than others.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Batgirl (New 52) Volume 1: The Darkest Reflection TP
Author Rating
31star1star1stargraygray

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