1) it had to be written by a woman,
2) it had to be about a female superhero,
3) Christian couldn't be following it already.
To qualify my criteria, it's not that there aren't good comics about women written by men and it's not that I'm trying to exclude Christian from what I'm reading. What I wanted was a superhero comic of my very own that I could read and feel good about.
I think part of the draw of superhero comics is having a fantasy role model to look up to and see parts of yourself in them. They bring out the kid in us, who still thinks we're invincible and that good always gets back up, and always wins. As a young girl and as a woman, it's really difficult to find that model in female superheroes who are drawn like sex objects, rather than athletes; women who are written like manipulative bimboes who use sex to further their own objectives, rather than scholars or free-thinkers or even just everyday women who act strong but still feel vulnerable or insecure.
It helps that Christian had read the first three issues of Gail Simone's Batgirl last year and he'd asked me to read them too. I was reading anything he handed me at that point, mostly because I was intrigued by a world that I hadn't really experienced or discovered yet. Sure, I'd read Sandman and Maus but I hadn't read any straight-up superhero comics. So I gave them a try and I really liked them--there were a lot of exclaimations of, "Cool! She is so bad ass! Check out her kick!" But then Christian stopped following it (I forget why--budgeting, I think) and I forgot about it because I wasn't buying single-issue comics yet.
So we went to Comic Readers yesterday and I found the hardcover of Volume 1 immediately, then saw that they had Issues 1-5 bundled together. Issue 6 was nowhere to be found, so I hemmed and hawed, and calculated the money in my account, and picked up the hardcover and put it down, and I just couldn't walk away from it. So I have Volume 1 and Issue 7 and I'm catching up now. I was worried that it wasn't going to be as good as I remembered it but, I have to say, IT'S BETTER.
What I love about Batgirl is her insecurity. That sounds funny but the thing is, she went through a trauma and now she's trying to get back on her feet (no pun intended). She's been about as vulnerable as a woman can get and she's still getting up and kicking ass. Her insecurities don't stop her from being bad-ass; if anything, it makes her joy in kicking down bad guys even more poignant and it makes her character incredibly easy to empathize with. Gail Simone writes Batgirl's interiory amazingly well--there have been more than a few moments when I've thought, "Wow, that's exactly what I would be thinking if I were ever jumping through a window or kicking a gun out of someone's hand." Seriously though, I cannot praise Simone's writing enough.
I'm really impressed with the art as well--the pencils are done by Ardian Syaf. Batgirl is always sleek and athletic, never forcibly posed (so far! keep it up!) and her kicks just make you want to fist-pump. Seriously, how cool are these?
Also, Christian just told me last night about the woman who dressed as Batgirl at San Diego Comic Con in 2011 and went to panels, asking, basically, "Where are all the women?" I wish I had been there. I would have been standing up with her and cheering her on.
Here's a description of the event: http://dcwomenkickingass.tumblr.com/post/7985599811/panels
And an interview with "Batgirl" and her view on what went down at Comic Con 2011: http://dcwomenkickingass.tumblr.com/post/8130151171/bgsdccinterview
Batgirl is the perfect example of a comic that women can enjoy and share with their daughters. If I could cos-play as anyone, it would be Batgirl, because then I could pretend, for a moment, that I'm flying high over everyone's heads, kicking down bad guys, and say, "Tonight, I'm Batgirl!" I only hope that more comics like Batgirl start appearing on the shelves.