Batgirl: Kicking Assassins - Andersen Gabrych, Alé Garza, Pop Mhan et al.
Sent by Batman to Gotham's neighbouring city of Blüdhaven, separated from her mentors and friends, Batgirl Cassandra Cain has to face up to some enormous challenges by herself. Yes, of course, there are the usual murderous psychopaths in strange costumes. But even worse for a girl raised from birth to be a merciless killer is the prospect of having to interact with other people at the local coffee shop...
Let me get this out of the way first: the worst thing about this book is the plotting. Maybe I didn't read it carefully enough, but a couple of times I stumbled over what looked to me like out-and-out plot holes. That doesn't matter, though. What Gabrych does do extremely well (aided by some bold artwork) is characterisation. Cassie treads that thin, but compelling and often unexpectedly cute line bordering damaged, dangerous and naive. Alfred is portrayed as protective of her, but confident in her abilities and never patronising. And Cassie's friendship with coffee shop owner Brenda is amusing and touching - the moment where Brenda realises Cassie is illiterate is probably the best in the book.
So, yeah, I really dug this thing, but it still has problems particular to superhero stuff. At one point I realised that something bad had happened to Cassie's close friend Stephanie Brown, so, to get the background, I Googled the answer. "Oh right," I discovered, "it was that." I mean, I knew about it, but how was I supposed to know that this book was from just after that event?