Batgirl: A Knight Alone

Posted: Sunday, January 20
By: Craig Lemon
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Writer: Kelly Puckett
Artists: Damion Scott, Coy Turnbull (p), Robert Campanella, Dan Davis, John Lowe (i)

Publisher: DC/Titan Books (ISBN 1-84023-359-1)

Well this is much, much better than volume one! Almost as if the good folks at DC/Titan had a little checklist of the things I didn't like about that volume - "not quite enough pages? OK, let's add another issue's worth of content to the book then. "bit too expensive? OK, let's lop a couple of quid off of the price."

The absence of Scott Peterson on plotting duties isn't felt at all, Kelly Puckett obviously felt confident enough to fly solo, and the book hangs together as both a standalone novel, and a companion piece to volume one extremely well. Batman is rather more peripheral than before, although he pops up with just enough frequency to remind you of his influence (especially in the final sequence where Batgirl inherits her very own Bat-cave...did Barbara Gordon ever get that? I don't think so). And he's convincing throughout - there's a nice moment after both Bats, Man and Girl, have been in particularly vicious fights, neither of them expected to see bruises on the face of the other, and they just stop, stand, and stare...then a wry smile. Very cool.

So, what happens in this book? The main emphasis is the arrival in Gotham of Lady Shiva, looking for a challenge worthy of her skills. Of course, with a Batgirl whom has lost her predictive abilities, the worthy opponent is not her, but she goes at it anyway, and although blown apart in the attempt, shows enough spunk to win a little respect, a little respite (of a year), and a special gift from Shiva. Batgirl may only have a year to live from now on, but she's going to go out in style. My only criticism of this section of the book is that it isn't really explained how Shiva is able to give the gift she does to Batgirl, so it feels a little dissatisfying.

There's another nice sequence a little later on, where Batgirl has temporarily dispensed with mask and costume yet still fights crime, when she comes under attack from three or four guys with laser sights. She is happy to allow then to all aim their sights on her, then proceeds to dispatch them one at a time, voluntarily moving into the sightline of another goon whilst finishing each one off. Nice work all round in this sequence.

So, it's a Bat-book with a mysterious Batman, no costumed villains with ridiculous plots and outlandish ideas, just good crime stories and moral dilemmas for the eponymous heroine to resolve. Excellent.

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