Batgirl: Redemption (Graphic Novel Review)

I’m a huge fan of Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl (and for a long time, the Oracle). She’s been a favourite for a good long while and when I started reading the comics written by Gail Simone last year, I found myself a new outlet to appreciate the character even more. Far more. Those comics are a mainstay of my DC reading right now, and the series is one of my top titles each month (at least, whenever Gail Simone is the writer). A few days ago I decided to read some different Batgirl comics, since during Barbara’s tenure as the Oracle, other characters have taken on that mantle, most notably Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown, both of whom are absent in the New 52.

The first of the comics featuring these characters I read was Batgirl: Redemption, which marked the second run of the title and was only for three issues, tangentially leading into the entire Death of Batman arc. Featuring Cassandra Cain, written by Andrew Beechen and drawn by excellent artists like Jim Calafiore and Jonathan Glapion, this wasn’t the best introductory comics to read, but I liked it well enough. There are lots of things going on in here and I was lost a few times, but I still enjoyed the characters thoroughly.

Batgirl RedemptionOne of the first things that I noticed about Cassandra Cain as Batgirl was that she is a character of colour. For some people, this might be a really weird thing to notice, but I say that this is perhaps the most important. There’ve been a lot of characters of colour in DC comics over the years, but few of them have really stood out. At the moment, I can think of only Cyborg, Jon Stewart, Static and a few others. For me, Cass Cain is a character worthy of being in the same league as any of them after reading this graphic novel. She is very different from Barbara Gordon in almost everything and she is a character who stands out on her own.

Going into this particular story arc, there is a ton of backstory to catch up on and like I said, I felt a bit lost at times, but I think that Adam Beechen gave me enough to go on here. I knew going in that this might be the case so I’m neither surprised nor put off by it.

So anyway, the story. Cass Cain is on the hunt for revenge against her father David Cain and the Terminator himself, Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke. They brainwashed her and raised her to be a killing machine, a part of their army of other such girls. She’s taken back her mantle as Batgirl and now she’s out and about in Gotham, hunting for leads.

As a character, I really like Cass. The story doesn’t give me enough to go on, not exactly, but I really liked what I saw. Her personality and attitude are as attractive as that of Barbara, but since she is a much more intense character, there are some different reasons for liking her. And in this particular story Beechen plays her off two characters similar to her, one of them being Slade Wilson’s own daughter. That last bit is particularly cool, and its kind of funny that all the three characters here are characters fighting against their legacies, to step out of the shadows of those who made them who they are.

Its an excellent hook for a story like this and I liked most of it. And throughout, Cass’ monologue is definitely one of the attractions.

There are quite a few things that put me off here. Some of the dialogue with Marque and Ravager, the other two girls (with Ravager being Deathstroke’s daughter), was somewhat cliche and flat. The pacing wasn’t exactly consistent either and it took me a while to get through all the issues since I had to keep stopping and re-reading back a few pages. And overall, since I lacked a lot of the context, I didn’t really enjoy the story as much as I wanted to.

Where the art is concerned, I rather liked Calafiore and Glapion’s artwork. I’m a huge fan of Glapion’s work, particularly from the current Batgirl and I’ve liked quite a few of Calafiore’s work elsewhere. The art isn’t the best it could have been, I think, but all the same, I liked what the two of them did here. The panels were mostly well-drawn, except for a few handful of cases where I didn’t understand what was going on and also a few where some of the poses were just odd. But mostly, I liked Calafiore’s action and he has a good sense of how to draw all the characters, particularly Ravager and Deathstroke who ooze a lot of menace in their scenes.

Overall, quite a decent graphic novel, something I enjoyed and I will definitely be going back to read all the entire first series as soon as I’m done with the Stephanie Brown-led Batgirl series.

Rating: 7.5/10

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Posted on December 30, 2013, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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