The second collected volume in Cameron Stewart’s Batgirl New 52 run is a collection of a couple of short stories. Despite being called ‘Family Business’ the Superheavy James Gordon as Batman tie in is only a smallish part of it making the book a little misleading really. It follows Batgirl’s new life in Burnside with a much watered down version from Gail Simone’s earlier version. I enjoyed Batgirl of Burnside even if I didn’t think it was as good as Simone’s so decided to keep going and get all three of the volumes and the first Batgirl Rebirth book. Keep reading to find out what I thought!
I might as well come out with the fact that I really didn’t enjoy Family Business. It started off OK and then just got worse and worse. Barbara as Oracle or even Barbara as Simone Batgirl is the Barbara I know and love as a kick ass and serious crime fighter and genuinely good human being. Stewart’s Batgirl has been designed for teenage girls (which is an understandable demographic to go for) who love pop culture references and having a good time. Other than having a good time, I am not interested in any of those things and feel like Stewart has really not handled Batgirl well.
Firstly, a book should have a strong and consistent storyline which Family Business didn’t. Forgettable villains, one was a cheetah rip off called Velvet Tiger who was a complete shell of a character with no history or real motives as well as a farcical master plan. Another was Livewire who felt forced into the book and as soon as she got going she was put away with another plot device.
At almost no point during Vol 2 Family Business is Batgirl faced with any real threat or does something truly heroic. Many of her adversaries have been largely harmless or Internet based gimmicks and it’s so much worse in Family Business as it was in Batgirl of Burnside. I am not sure what Stewart was trying to do with her to be honest? It almost feels insulting to have to dumb down such an iconic character just to go after a new demographic of comic book readers.
The best storyline in Family Business was her time working with Batwoman tracking down Gladius. However, it was simply too short and Stewart did not give enough time to get to know the pair working together, and again the villain was taken out far too easily.
To me, the worst of the book was the reintroduction of Grayson (at this point an agent of Spyral) sending Batgirl on a merry go round chase alongside Helena Bertinelli (Huntress) it was a pointless mission with an empty thread of a story with no real purpose other than to maybe get some interest for the Grayson series. When Grayson later reemerges at a Alysia’s wedding it once again just irritated me that Stewart’s made having boyfriends such a big deal to Barbara Gordon. It isn’t.
To hammer home the point, I can’t remember a single time where Barbara spoke to a male character without some kind of sexual tension or connotation which if it’s directed towards teenage girls is not a healthy message to get across.
Once again though, one of the highlights of this run is a brighter more colourful book with great colouring and a diverse range of expressions from the character. At times I found Barbara to be perhaps over sexualised with clothing choices you wouldn’t expect Babs to choose (and all of her female friends to be honest) and cleavage at almost every opportunity. In saying that, I do really like her Bat suit.
Overall, Batgirl Volume 2: Family Business is not a great book. I’m sure others might enjoy it for it’s fresh take on an old character but for me, this version of Batgirl is NOT my idea of what Batgirl should be.
Last update on 2021-01-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API