I’ve been sampling a lot of The New 52 lately, and my taste tour has finally gotten to the Batgirl cuisine, as prepared by Gail Simone (Story) and Fernando Pasarín and Daniel Sampere (Illustrations). While I was a longtime reader of the Birds of Prey comic, I can’t say I have ever been a Batgirl aficionado, and so as I began this comic collection, I had no preconceived notions of what Batgirl had to be like in this New 52 manifestation. However, after finishing Wanted, I must say that now all future Batgirl comics will be judged against this Simone/Pasarín/Sampere version, because this is "THE" perfect Batgirl in my opinion.
The collection itself contains issues #19-25 of Batgirl along with Ventriloquist #1. Here our caped heroine is struggling emotionally with the death of her brother, James, Jr., and her future career as a crime fighter is definitely up in the air. Not only that but there are issues with her continued relationships with Batman and the whole Bat family as well as real strain between herself and her father. But all is not gloomy in Barbara’s life as a new love interest appears - though even that has unforeseen complication.
Before Batgirl can come to grips with the good and the bad in her life however, our heroine is confronted by an especially nasty piece of villainy called The Ventrilogist, and her appearance gives this comic collection a major dose of creepy psychosis. I mean, there is nothing going to test your mettle as a crime fighter liking going toe to toe with a mentally deranged chic and her demented dummy; both of whom seem more than willing to kill anyone (ordinary citizens or fabulous stars) just for kicks. And if that isn’t difficult enough, Batgirl finds herself trying to do this while side stepping her own father’s quest to hunt down and bring to justice the worst criminal in all of Gotham: Batgirl herself!
From out of this hodgepodge of ongoing plots, Gail Simone does her usual outstanding job of creating a multi-faceted character. For you see, this New 52 Batgirl is not a super heroine caricature but a very real and plausible person, who just happens to live this extraordinarily dangerous life as a crime fighter. That is why the sections of Simone’s story focusing on Barbara Gordon happily going shopping with a friend or enjoying a night out dancing with a guy does not read like filler material but are essential parts of the whole Batgirl story. And this dual role of Barbara as super heroine and average girl is one of the main reasons Simone absolutely nails the New 52 Batgirl and makes it such an enjoyable collection to read.
The other reason to sample Wanted is the amazing artwork, which is quite frankly an ideal match for Simone’s story. For Fernando Pasarín and Daniel Sampere do an outstanding job of capturing the creepiness of Batgirl’s super hero world while also illustrating the normalcy of Barbara’s daily life. Both parts of the tale meshing so well and rendered so beautifully that it adds even more enjoyment to the overall story and makes it difficult to imagine anyone else ever drawing this comic.
Some stories just click with a reader. The New 52 Batgirl Volume 4: Wanted is one of those books with me. It gave me everything I am looking for in a great comic story: beautiful art, multi-dimensional characters, and an engaging story. I’d highly encourage everyone to give it a try and see if it is too your liking as well.
I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank the publisher for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.