You may not have noticed but DC Comics has been releasing digital first series created for tablets and then published them later on in paper form. This week brings us a Batgirl and Harley Quinn issue collecting Batgirl’s first outing donning a Bat-Suit and another with Batgirl punching Harley Quinn in the face. Has to be good if they’re publishing after digitally releasing first right? Is it good?
Batman: Arkham Knight – Batgirl/Harley Quinn #1 (DC Comics)
This collects two digital first series with a main focus on the early days of Batgirl in the videogame Arkham Knight universe. Since it’s focused on Batgirl, Batman is not the focus but he does make brief appearances.
Why does this book matter?
Fans of the videogame and for that matter the Batgirl DLC should snatch this up without a second thought. Tim Seeley writes both of these and he’s quite a good writer having done a fantastic job with Hack/Slash. You also have some solid art from Matthew Clark. If you’re willing to take a shot on a non main continuity story this is a good bet.
Batman looks awesome with that color behind him. Seriously!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Hot damn this issue is solid! Tim Seeley starts with Batgirl’s first time fighting crime and he names the damn story “Batgirl Begins”. I see what you did there Seeley! This story feels a lot like Batman: The Animated Series as the story is innocent in some sense, but masterfully told.
Essentially Killer Moth wants to kill Commissioner Gordon and Batman isn’t’ around to save the day. The GDCP is revealing some Bat tech to prove Batman isn’t a “supernatural force” but Killer Moth wants to ruin the fun. Unfortunately for him Batgirl was born to be a hero. Matthew Clark does a fantastic job drawing this slightly archaic looking costume and balances out the action very nicely. This of course ends with a nice moment with Batman being a bit of a dick and Batgirl rolling with the punches.
The second story, entitled “Caged Animals” opens with Batgirl taking on Killer Croc. Again we get a brief moment with Batman – fantastically drawn by Clark again – and quickly cut to Harley Quinn when she used to work at Arkham Asylum. Seeley does a good job showcasing her screwed up relationship with the Joker and how adeptly he can manipulate her. From there she goes on her first caper and it involves a travelling circus. Batgirl intervenes and there’s great action between Batgirl and the animals – Harley is still pretty green and isn’t putting up much a fight – and there’s plenty of good dialogue for Batgirl too.
Somebody shine a light!
A style choice Clark implores in both stories has Batman’s face cast in complete shadow. We only see his eyes which imbues as sense of mystery but also almost a villain type role. This works since he’s constantly asking Batgirl to burn her suit and she keeps waving him off. It’s a nice way to visually show they are at odds.
Clark’s art is fantastic throughout — particularly the costumes. Batgirl’s costume looks rather realistic with all its Arkham Knight metal pieces and shiny rubber. The animals look good too; really everything has a detailed style that’s Clark’s own. He’s certainly not copying the video game designer’s look.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Harley has a moment of strength that could have been an empowering one as well as a character building moment that drops away too quickly.
Is It Good?
Even if you’re not following or a fan of the video game these are solid early adventure stories for both Harley and Batgirl. They’re both fantastic and feel like they belong in the Batman: The Animated Series. Plus it’s a one-shot so it’s done in one fun!
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