Batgirl, Volume 1: Beyond Burnside is the first Batgirl collected edition of the DC Rebirth series written by Hope Larson following on from Cameron Stewart’s New 52 run. Despite being called ‘beyond’ Burnside this book does carrying pretty much straight away after Mindfields and sees Barbara take a break and head to Asia. The artwork and look of Batgirl is still the same ‘The Batgirl of Burnside’ but the tone of the book is now somewhat more mature. For more details, carry on reading our review!
I was not a big fan at all of Cameron Stewart’s run, particularly the dumbing down and watering of the darkness from Gail Simone’s run, so I was a bit apprehensive picking up Beyond Burnside considering the art is similar but would the writing? Well the answer to that is a bit yes and no. It starts off straight away with a one in a million coincidence when Barbara checks in to a hotel where an old friends is also staying. In Japan, this was a red flag to me that the writer is not afraid to insert events without any rational explanation. However, it is a bit more mature than the Stewart run which was welcome.
Japan didn’t look like the Japan you might expect throughout the book and in general the environments were poorly drawn. What was drawn very well was Barbara Gordon herself, especially facial expressions. Kai on the other hand was not. The introduction of Kai was also a poor choice as he is a shallow character without any real motives or a point, really. From start to finish. Second thing you may notice is that the introduction of ‘Schoolgirl’ as an antagonist is a little on the racist side. Have a look at the gallery and see for yourself.
Moving on to the second issue and Larson brings in relationships into the equation which I didn’t like from Stewart’s run but this time it was not quite as full on but still annoying that another writer can’t write Batgirl without bringing her love life into it. There’s also a very brief moment involving a peeping tom which happened suddenly and then went away leaving you with a weird feeling. Barbara in the suit doesn’t; feature all that much in the first two issues but comes back big time in the third issue and many readers may be relieved.
Perhaps the third issue is when the plot really comes into play and having now read the whole book it is really an uninspired and a bit of a poor storyline in all honesty. The formula and the drug everyone is after is never actually shown, explained and there is far too much travel going on for it to be realistic. There’s too many plot devices, weak antagonists and the object they’re all after isn’t even needed to be used for anything all that special. Once again, Batgirl is never in any danger and is able to too easily save the day.
Towards the fourth and fifth issues the story is starting to get tired and I just wanted it to end. When it finally did I was treated to a delightful one and done issue with Poison Ivy on an airplane moving precious cargo before a sneak peak at the future antagonist. Still, the damage had been done by a boring story and middle of the road artwork.
Overall, Beyond Burnside is another tame Batgirl book that’s too light on the action and too bogged down by plot devices and loopholes. I really do hope someone will one day bring the grit and the darkness back to Batgirl.
Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API