May: Batgirl, by Bryan Q. Miller, Lee Garbett, and Trevor Scott

It may seem a little disingenuous to write a review on praising a book starring Stephanie Brown.  After all, Stephanie’s death was the catalyst for the founding of this whole site.  And yes, the fact that she has returned (well, been retconned) from the dead and become an accepted (well, mostly) member of the Batfamily, presumably indefinitely (well, we’ll see what Bruce says when he gets out of his timecave or whatever) does carry with it a certain note of triumph – not of “ha ha, we won,” because it shouldn’t be a battle of sides, but because protests that a female character was slaughtered to further the story of the men around her were heard and registered.  As a Steph fan (not everyone at is!), I am especially pleased to have her back.

But more important than Girl-Wonder’s relationship to Steph is the fact that Batgirl is a really good book.

Brian Q. Miller’s writing is consistently entertaining.  His Stephanie Brown expects no support and no praise, and is gobsmacked each time she receives it, but she never loses her determination or her sense of humor, making her an endearingly bright spot in the bleakness of Gotham.  His Barbara Gordon is flawed and struggling, but still witty and scary-competent and doing her best to keep her personal issues with Batgirl separate from her work mentoring Steph.  The development of their relationship is one of the best things in the comic.

In fact, all of the relationships are handled wonderfully – Steph’s and Babs’s touchy ones with Tim and Dick respectively, Babs and her father, both women and new pretty-boy detective Nicholas “St. Nick” Gage.  One of my favorite moments in the comic came when what seemed to be building to an annoyingly cliché catfight between Steph and one of her classmates over a boy was turned on its head when the boy turned out to be gay and the female classmate just very protective.  Take that, myth of female competition!

The art is uneven, going back and forth between pages by Lee Garbett and Trevor Scott (though Scott has now been replaced by Jonathan Glapion), but none it has been actively bad or oversexualized the characters.  If Cassandra Cain would only return as a regular, as it was rumored she would when the series began, Batgirl would be just about perfect.

Violence: The usual amount for a superhero book, but nothing overly gruesome or gory.

Sexualized Violence: None.

Gender: Two female leads, with a co-ed supporting cast (Jim Gordon, Nick Gage, Wendy (of Wendy and Marvin fame), and Steph’s mom make the most frequent supporting appearances).  Nice!

The Bechdel-Wallace Test: Passes with flying colors.

Minorities: Pretty much none.  Bring back Cass Cain!

Parents May Wish to Be Aware: Not much to warn for.  The audience is probably tweens and up.

– Review by Jessica Plummer