It seems like we've been waiting forever for this new Batgirl in Batman Beyond #27, and she's finally hit. And kicked. Making her first appearance in the future DC universe-- which I'm not sure is a part of the current DC universe or some other related continuity, not that it really matters-- Batgirl hits and kicks a large number of miscreants while giving Commissioner Barbara Gordon (who now bears more than a passing resemblance to her dad) a helping hand and foot.
At ten pages, the story, written by Scott Peterson, one of the original writers and co-creators of our beloved Cass Cain, is kind of slim-reading, heavy on action and set-up for what's to come. We'll have to see how it plays out over the remaining twenty pages, right? On the plus side right away, however, his grizzled Barbara is a fresh take on a familiar character (for me, at least) and he gives Batgirl a nice line concerning her detective skills or lack thereof.
But for me, the major draw now is the edgy sequential art of Annie Wu. Her work has a slashing, gestural look reminiscent of pre-production sketches for animation (I think she actually does those, too, or something in animation-- her blog talks about working on The Venture Bros. but I'm not sure in what capacity)-- usually those have scads of energy which is then lost through the production process and the need for everything to be "on-model." Other than that, Wu 's art looks like no one else's. That is almost always a good thing. I like to be able to recognize an artist's hand immediately. And I like her thought process, too. No "girl version" of the future Batman suit, no ridiculous heels.
Well, is this new Batgirl Cass or not? Signs point to not. I don't know anything about this Beyond series, but I have this feeling fans of it who are pointing out her physical similarities to a certain current timeline DC character or her possible identity as someone already appearing in the title are probably right on. There's another major reason she's not future-Cass you have to read the story to find out, but it's hugely obvious almost from the moment she appears. One or two panels into it, anyway.
While I'm really hoping DC gets its act together and reintroduces Cass into continuity, it's nice to have another strictly ass-kicking Batgirl. Barbara's introspection makes for some good reading, but every so often you just want your Batgirl to tear through wave after wave of thugs without a lot of reflection or angst. A Batgirl who is simply all about being Batgirl. That was one aspect that attracted me to Cass in the first place.
Anyway, they're off to a good start, a punchy story with the sort of character and art I enjoy. I knew I was going to buy this as soon as DC announced it-- those factors overcame my reluctance to buy new DC material, especially the Batman Beyond stuff. I never watched the Batman Beyond cartoon. I never did Marvel 2099, either. I have just never cared anything about future versions of today's characters. So that's giving Peterson and Wu a lot of credit. And at .99 it's hard to refuse the new Batgirl, especially when she's drawn by Wu.
Still want Cass, though.