Ignoring 19 for the moment…
There were a number of points I really liked. Issue 6 was beautiful, Night of the Owls was great, I loved the Annual. But as we turned into the Joker story, the tone became overwhelmingly dark.
From the beginning, I had hoped to see the return of Babs as Batgirl as a triumph for the character. I didn’t initially see de-aging the character as a problem (I loved her first from BTAS after all). But because her first time as Batgirl was now so brief and at age seventeen, none of the stories of a confident, independent, adult hero apply to this characterization. And that’s the Batgirl I think most fans wanted to see.
When I read her Bronze age stories, I look beyond the sometimes silly plots and see an amazing hero. A hero who- importantly, in contrast to her two partners- was motivated to fight crime because she’s a deeply good person and she enjoyed doing it. Not because of inner demons, vengeance, or a villain in her family. That’s classic Batgirl in the comics, in BTAS, frankly in any context other than the New 52.
Many people loved her as Oracle, and I understand why. But the reason Barbara as Oracle didn’t appeal to me in the same way is that Barbara as Batgirl was the happy warrior. The New 52 stories don’t have that at all. And one of the strangest things with Gail Simone having written her as Oracle is that Barbara did move forward. She enjoyed her work and found purpose in mentoring the younger girls and leading the Birds of Prey. I don’t understand how making her Batgirl again has resulted in a darker version of the character.
But for a post issue 19 view…
In the end, I’m sad that this wasn’t a modern version of the Batgirl I love, while the Oracle character many others loved is also gone. It feels like the New 52 has lost Barbara Gordon completely.