Batgirl: New Hero of the Night (Backstories)

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Batgirl New Hero of the Night (Backstories)

I've been a fan of Batgirl ever since I first saw Yvonne Craig don the tights when I was just a wee lad laying on the floor with my chin propped up on my hands watching a 17 inch color television. (I couldn't reasonably go outside as the Earth's crust was still cooling, obviously.) Over the years I've added numerous odds and ends to my Batgirl collection, including first appearances of both Batgirl and Bat-girl in comics, some statues, and a couple of autographed stills from the television show.

You'd think there'd be nothing in BATGIRL: NEW HERO OF THE NIGHT, the latest in Scholastics DC COMICS BACKSTORIES line, for me to learn. In fact, given the tenure of the hero, I scoffed a little at the "new" in the title.

Ah, but comics has always been the realm of the do-over, where nobody ever stays dead and we can always do a CTL-ALT-DEL on the universe. Such has been the case with Batgirl, who is presently a college student running her own clean energy company. (I can recall when Barbara Gordon, daughter of renowned Commissioner Gordon, was a librarian and, later on, a congresswoman!) Her years (and years and years) as Oracle, the identity she took on while in a wheelchair after paralyzed by one of the Joker's bullets, are gone, and she's once again in the cape and tights.

That's not the only thing that's changed in her history. She also has an estranged mother, a sociopathic little brother, and a whole new look. And if you don't have the time to go pick up a few year's worth of BATGIRL back-issues, then this little number from writer Matthew K. Manning, featuring some pretty tight pencil work from illustrator Patrick Spaziante, is just the thing. It's a concise -- if somewhat dry and repetitive in places -- recounting of the Darknight Darling's revised history, beginning with her formative years, he special ability (an eidetic memory), and the events that first led her to put on a costume, and includes several informative asides about her family, friends, and enemies. It's a quick read, and one that will interest younger readers both with its content and its artwork. And maybe readers will be inspired by the characters resolve against physical odds, pursuit of education, and maybe even her masked vigilantism. (Well, two out of three isn't bad.)

3.5 / 5.0