Volume 1: Batgirl

I’m savoring the New 52 female line-up. So far, I’m quite impressed with what I’ve read, and I’m looking forward to the coming volumes. I have a long way to go before I can think of being caught up, though. So, first thing’s first, Batgirl, Volume 1: The Darkest Reflectionwritten by Gail Simone. The art is lovely and the story is compelling. I enjoy and am intrigued by how it is on the edge of darkness, but retains the light-heartedness we know of Batgirl/Barbara Gordon.

Batgirl faces the same problem of duality that Batman does, but not in the same way. As we know, the New 52 is another DC mulligan: a redo to adjust canon. So, Barbara Gordon, though not fiddled with a great deal, does have some new twists to her origin. The most apparent change is that she is no longer paralyzed or Oracle. She was shot by the Joker (as seen in The Killing Joke), but James Gordon was able to get her an experimental operation that would give her back the use of her legs.

This is the initial thread that leads the reader to view her struggles with duality.

The above panel is from a dream she is having where she confronts herself about her fears of becoming paraplegic again. When I say she “confronts herself,” the dream is of herself as Batgirl (in the wheelchair) being yelled at by herself dressed as plain-clothed Barbara. Her subconscious is demanding attention in the guise of herself and, suddenly, in the form of the villain Mirror. Mirror is covered in mirrors (der), on his face and in his cape (see below) and thinks of himself as an angel, not a bad guy. 

Because of course he does.

Mirror forces his victims to confront their “true face” before killing them in the way they were meant to be killed, as miracles should not exist. *Beat* His reasoning, like many madmen in the DC ‘verse, is convoluted. All the more reason you should read the book and not have me ham-fist it into understanding.

He isn’t what gets Barbara thinking of how lucky she is and how she knows she needs to be more careful. But, he becomes the corporeal manifestation of that particular duality she is facing. She begins actually questioning her self (notice the space) and her mulligan. Mirrors are rife with symbolism, but Simone is going for a specific one: Mirrors=Self or Mirrors≠Self. Or, more complexly/likely, Mirrors and Self are related only in the superficial way. There is the need to look beyond the surface to the true Self, which is within. This understanding is the greatest weapon Batgirl has against Mirror, which she uses to lure him to confront his own truth and, ultimately, defeat him.

Like I say above, the wheelchair is just the surface of Barbara’s duality. This is a likely theme to continue, as she is part of the Batman family, and because Gail Simone is a smart writer. As I continue the series, I’ll continue along this thread. No promises, though, as I tend to get distracted.

Next time: “Volume 1: Bat Woman”

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Reblogged this on Jimmy's Pop Culture Blog and commented:
    My friend Holly’s thoughts on the New 52 Batgirl series.


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