In this issue, Batgirl is hot on the trail of current nemesis Mirror, a dispassionate killer with a grudge against humanity. In an all-action sequence set aboard a speeding train, Barbara starts out full of self-confidence and bravado, then – as she realises she’s made a fatal error – despair and self-doubt kicks in.
“How quickly our self-regard shifts,” as she puts it herself. “Right away into nothing, sometimes.”
Simone’s Batgirl has spent the last three issues of this book walking on a knife-edge between jubilation and despair. Recently restored to crime-fighting action, she has something to prove – most of all to herself.
Simone manages to depict this without making the character whining or annoying. Indeed, in a brilliantly-written scene between Barbara and her father (Commissioner Gordon) where what remains unsaid is more important than the words they exchange, the depth of her frustration is clear: evoking a great deal of empathy for this ‘breakable’ Batgirl.
This frustration comes to a head in the second half of the issue, in an flirtatious and emotionally-charged encounter between Batgirl and Nightwing. As the two young heroes circle each other like the creatures of the night they take their inspiration from, a realistically-portrayed and at times touching relationship is explored – even if it does culminate in an explosive outcome.
But it’s Simone’s intelligent and exciting writing which truly shines: making the New 52 incarnation of Batgirl a flawed – but fascinating – character.