After back-to-back one shot stories, writer Hope Larson reteams with artist Chris Wildgoose for a multi-part Batgirl adventure that brings Dick Grayson back into Barbara Gordon’s life. In “Summer of Lies” part one, the two will test the strengths of their relationship, which has changed since Dick’s relationship with Defacer/Shawn Tsang. Can they work together as just friends? We’ll find out in Batgirl #14.
Here’s the official synopsis from DC Comics:
“SUMMER OF LIES” part one! Batgirl and Nightwing’s feelings for each other have always run deep…but is their bond built on more than Bat Family loyalty and a long-ago childhood crush? When an old villain comes back into Babs’ life, she and Dick will have to reopen painful wounds and remember a time they’d hoped would remain forgotten. This is an event no Batgirl or Nightwing fan will want to miss!
In the first part of this story, the mysterious suicides of two women right before their eyes sends Barbara and Dick on the trail of the Mad Hatter. The women look an awful lot like Ainsley, a computer sciences substitute teacher Barbara had when she first moved from Chicago to Gotham City. The main story is supplemented by flashbacks from the days when Barbara was new in Gotham and Dick was still Robin. It’s a cool new way to look at their relationship as the two crimefighters feel each other out in the past.
What makes this story a little different is that in both the past and present a new relationship is forming. Yes, in the present Dick and Barbara know each other better, but they’re trying to figure out how well they can work without romance in between. They’re trying to go back to the early days, and this case with a direct link to it could help them.
Larson’s strong grasp of the characters is again at the forefront of the story, with the flashback scenes perfectly capturing the awkward first moments between the new kid in town and the one who already knows how things work. Dick and Barbara don’t instantly meet and become friends just because they both fight with Batman. It’s a very realistic depiction of how these relationships start out (although in reality, the two people wouldn’t be dressed like a bat or a bird).
Wildgoose’s art has really grown on me over time and the colors by Mat Lopes really bring out the best of it. Wildgoose kicks the book off with a great first panel that grabs the attention of any reader. Lopes also provides a light, near-sepia-tone-look for the flashback scenes.
While the cliffhanger is a little predictable, the issue overall is fun and even funny for a Bat-family book. (Batgirl: “You’re a dick, you know?” Robin: “Oh, you’ve got no idea.”) Larson’s run on Batgirl has been uniformly great and Dick Grayson is a welcome character for Barbara to play off of.
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