Batgirl: Silent Running

Posted: Tuesday, January 15
By: Craig Lemon
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Writers: Scott Peterson (plot), Kelly Puckett (plot+script)
Artists: Damion Scott (p), Robert Campanella (i)

Publisher: DC/Titan Books (ISBN 1-84023-266-8)

It's the new Batgirl, the third iteration of the character in fact, and she's learning the ropes from Batman...unless something rather major changes things around.

Frankly I was expecting to hate this. I hadn't picked up any of the issues in the monthly series, and approached the TPB with much trepidation. Was this just going to be a rerun of Robin's series, with a girl learning the ropes instead of a boy? No way, Jose.

We kick off with Batgirl already acting as a well established member of the Bat-family. Batman has taken her pretty much under his wing, but she gets some time with Oracle, who she is living with at the moment. Cassandra Cain (Batgirl's alter ego) can't speak beyond some simple words. She was trained from birth to be a killing machine - her language skills were not allowed to develop normally, over time they instead became devoted to analysing and predicting combat moves. As a result Batgirl knows what her enemies are going to do before they do it. Also if you want to teach her some new combat skills, it needs just five minutes or so of demonstration, and she's mastered it.

A pretty formidable opponent, right? Yes sir, and so it proves through the first three issues in this collected edition of six. Bit of a pain that she can't speak or really communicate with Batman and Oracle, but they manage. And then the pivotal moment in the book occurs - her language centers are restored to her (never mind how). Great, excellent, she thinks, now she can talk...except this means, of course, that her superior combat abilities are massively reduced. Whoops.

Artistically this book appears to be aimed at the slightly younger end of the market. Although there are a number of mature themes, to do with Cain's child abuse, a few pieces of blood and guts, and a cellulite joke, the art seems very manga-inspired. Lots of speed lines, lots of action-packed scenes with little dialogue and big panels, and the whole book is a quick read. That's my only concern about this book really, it may be a little on the pricey side for 140 pages anyway, but when those 140 pages pass as if they were 100, then you feel a little bit let down. It's just as well the story is good enough to keep you going.

Final Word:
An excellent book, an excellent introduction to a new character in the Bat-mythos, and an excellent premise with bags of potential to grow in the future. Maybe a little quick to read, but highly recommended all the same.

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