The second issue of Batgirl takes a closer look at Barbara Gordon's new adversary, 'The Mirror,' but is she in over her head? Some spoilers.
Since the start of the very first issue in this new series it seemed Simone was crafting 'The Mirror' to be a very interesting adversary for Barbara, and this issue delves a bit deeper into the identity and motives of the character. There are several fight sequences that demonstrate just how determined Barbara is to defeat a guy who is bigger and stronger than she is; and Simone stresses the fact that while 'The Mirror' may physically outmatch Babs; she is still quick and clever enough to outsmart him. Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes do a fantastic job with the art in this issue, making Barbara appear clumsy when it is necessary, as well as fluid and athletic when she needs to be. The colors are vibrant and bright, and the artists capture emotions through the character's expressions remarkably well.
It's clear Barbara still has a lot of work to do, and even though she isn't quite yet at her peak physical condition, she's still struggling through it and trying her best; that kind of determination is interesting to read and makes for a fun story.
However, even though Barbara is determined; for a character who is supposed to be so smart, she sure is acting irresponsibly by putting herself in crazy situations. I mean, slamming into a car and then getting up like nothing happened? I would have bought that if most of the issue hadn't been stressing that Barbara is so weak and in so much pain.
It didn't always feel as though she was outsmarting him, either; and had that not been verbally communicated to the reader, it may not have been as obvious. It's clear that she's weaker and still struggling after having endured rehabilitation, and Simone implies that her legs are still a little bit weak and that perhaps she's unprepared to combat someone so much stronger than she is. Scenes like the one where Barbara (who is already injured) slams into a taxi at full force, and then proceeds to get up without a scratch (really?) and track 'The Mirror' to the cemetary are a little, well, unbelievable. I guess it's just hard to wrap my head around the fact that she's able to do all this and then just get up and go on a date the next day like it was no big deal. Unless she's Robocop now (and I'm not ruling out the cybernetic legs theory) I don't think that's happening. I'm just not buying it. If you're going to demonstrate that a character is weak, there should be lapse of time or something indicating that she's recovering from her injuries. Instead, it felt the pacing felt a little bit off.
She also uncovers 'The Mirror's' identity very quickly, and the reader doesn't really see the detective work happen. I feel like if you are going to write a smart character, you can't just say "yes, she's smart, she will outsmart him," but instead you should show the reader the process and in turn, prove to them that yes, this is a very intelligent character and that is her strength. Take them through the steps with Barbara, demonstrate just how intelligent she really is. I think I would have liked to see more of Barbara uncovering a mystery and being a detective than (as a reader) simply being told that she does a ton of research and presto! she solved it.
A lot happens in this issue, and maybe it was a little bit too much but I think less action and a bigger focus on Babs' intellect and crime/problem solving capabilities would have this issue a lot more interesting. The art is great, however, and the colors are vibrant and beautiful and match the fast paced story line. My biggest issue right now, however, is that this doesn't really feel like a Barbara Gordon story -- at least not to me. I think that if you replaced her with blond hair, she would pass for Stephanie Brown. There's an interesting scene where Commissioner Gordon finds out that Barbara has returned, and the expression on his face in that panel makes me wonder whether he knows that Batgirl is his daughter. Very interesting.