After being entrenched in the hip Gotham neighborhood of Burnside for nearly two years, Barbara “Batgirl” Gordon has ventured outside of her comfort zone for the first arc of her new Rebirth ongoing series. Taking Barbara on a trip through Asia helps writer Hope Larson and artist Rafael Albuquerque distinguish this new Batgirl from the previous run, and while the tone of the book remains consistent, the change in scenery pushes the story in a new direction that shows how formidable Barbara is on her own. Larson’s scripts emphasize Batgirl’s intelligence, resilience, and strength as she embarks on her solo mission to take down the manipulative villain, Teacher, and being separated from her Gotham support system has forced Barbara to step up her superhero game if she’s going to save the youth who have been misguided by Teacher’s promises.
Rafael Albuquerque only has two more issues on Batgirl, and these preview pages of this week’s Batgirl #5 showcase the energy and style he’s brought to this series. His action storytelling is full of speed and intensity, and colorist Dave McCaig amplifies those elements with a bold, expressive palette. The pages at the end of this preview shift into a more ominous atmosphere, and the art team makes adjustments to heighten the suspense, with Albuquerque pulling back to highlight the destitute setting and McCaig using much cooler colors. There’s a very attractive sleekness to this creative team’s work, including letterer Deron Bennett, who finds a very clever way to depict non-English dialogue by assigning colors to different languages, which are established by including characters from those languages in the word balloons. It will be nice to have Barbara back home next issue, but this trip abroad has proven to be a fruitful voyage for both Batgirl and her readers.