Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Batgirl
Written by Bryan Q. Miller
Art by Pere Perez
So after reading the first four issues of The Road Home, in what I assume was at least semi-correct in the order (Batman and Robin, Red Robin, Batgirl, Outsiders), I’ve reached my first conclusion. That Batgirl is, so far, the best amongst them all. But how can this be? Surely Batman and Robin would be a better issue, as those two characters are truly the most important that Bruce Wayne is coming back to. Or even Red Robin, as Tim Drake has spent the past year and a half trying to prove Bruce isn’t dear. But Batgirl? How could Stephanie’s issue be the best?
Simple, by just being another issue of Batgirl.
While The Road Home issues are all one shots, and issues like Batman and Robin and Outsiders feel like one shots, Batgirl feels like they could have slapped the number fifteen on it and called it the new issue. Yes, it features the recurring themes of The Road Home (Bruce Wayne, the tests, Vicki Vale), but it features them in a very Batgirl manner. Bryan Q. Miller wrote this issue like he would any other issue of his book, and it really benefits from it. We see plots furthered, character development given that will no doubt carry over into the next actual regular series issue, and we get some really nice moments.
The book is framed with occasional looks at Stephanie’s life through Bruce’s eyes, moments like an early Batman/Robin/Spoiler encounter where Bruce wouldn’t let her go along to capture her father, and even a look at her time with Robin. On top of that, it receives much of the same narration as the other tiles have, with Bruce giving his notes and observations as he tests everyone in his extended family, but what makes that work even better is Stephanie’s own familiar narration process and how well the two go back and forth. Steph and Bruce have always had an interesting relationship, and one would never have assumed that he would advocate her putting on his symbol and being the new Batgirl. Even when she was Robin for about fifteen minutes, he never really gave her credit. Bruce always treated her as a means to an end, with the end usually being motivating Tim Drake.
So the idea of Bruce testing her to see if she really does have what it takes is totally in character and fits in perfectly with everything to have come before. Better though would be that she sees the powers his suit displays and spends much of the issue insisting that she is fighting Amazo, which is something I would expect from Steph. She’s a fun a character, and that’s arguably the biggest success of the current Batgirl series, that the book is fun, something that even at it’s best, Cassandra Cain never succeeded in. She was an awesome character, but fun was hardly the forte of someone who might as well be an assassin sometimes. Like X-23 at a pajama party. Sorry, I went a bit off topic there.
The point of the issue is whether or not Stephanie, as Batgirl, has a place in Bruce Wayne’s Gotham, but as it turns out, it really doesn’t matter. Bruce comes to a realization that I myself came to not terribly long ago. She’s more like Dick Grayson then Tim Drake or even Barbra Gordon. She has fun being a super hero, she enjoys the thrill and the action that is provided for her. And more so, even with Bruce’s legacy draped around her in the form of a cozy “Bat” title, she’s very much her own hero much in the way Nightwing was a decade ago.
Pere Perez does a great job on art here much like he did in the previous issues he’s handled of the series. I wouldn’t complain if he was the ongoing artist on the book, but at the same time, this title seems to really attract suitable artists. Lee Garbett, Pere Perez, and next up we’ve got Dustin Nguyen. Not only is this book fun, but it’s consistently pretty.
At the end of it all though, this issue had a lot more bang for it’s buck then the other issues of The Road Home out this week, and out of the four was the only one that really felt necessary. It helped set Stephanie’s place in the Batman family going forward, as well acknowledge much that has come before. It’s a nice stepping stone from “Year One” of the title and into the post Return of Bruce Gotham.
Stephanie Brown is Batgirl, now here’s to her second year!
Tags: Batgirl, Batman R.I.P., Bruce Wayne: The Road Home, bryan q. miller, Stephanie Brown, The Return of Bruce Wayne