04 May 2016

Faster than a DC Bullet: Project Gotham, Part XXI: Batgirl: Year One

Comic trade paperback, 213 pages
Published 2003

Borrowed from the library
Read October 2015
Batgirl: Year One

Writers: Scott Beatty, Chuck Dixon
Penciller: Marcos Martin
Inker: Alvaro Lopez
Colorist: Javier Rodriguez
Letterer: Willie Schubert

Year Four, July
I had wanted to really like Robin: Year One from (mostly) the same creative team as this story, but found it a bit disappointing. Not terrible, but I didn't feel like it really gave very much insight into Robin. So it was with a little apprehension that I approached Batgirl: Year One-- but that needn't have been the case, as Batgirl: Year One is excellent. The story covers the first few months of Batgirl's career, filling in with the occasional flashbacks to Barbara Gordon's pre-crimefighting life. Barbara wants to enroll in the police academy, but is too short, and beside, her father is entirely against letting her be in the same line of work as him. Deciding to tweak him by turning up at a costume benefit gala in a homemade Batgirl costume, she ends up accidentally becoming a crimefighter when the Killer Moth turns up, and then decides to run with it.

Batgirl: Year One gives us a succession of adventures as she "proves" herself to Batman. (Robin is, of course, smitten from the beginning. I think Barbara is 16 and Robin 14 during this time?) Along the way, we also see the miserable career of the Killer Moth (who no one takes seriously), Barbara teams up with Black Canary for the first time (but certainly not the last!), and Batgirl and Robin take down the Condiment King (yes!). The book is just fun and vibrant: the main tension with Batman comes from the fact that Barbara doesn't have a "reason" to fight crime. Bruce and Dick both lost their parents to crime, but Barbara just wants to help as best she can, and this turns out to be enough.

Some of the pages of my library copy are a little wrinkly.
from Batgirl: Year One #8

Everything conspires to make this book work: the charming narration by Barbara, the banter between the characters (like in Snow, I can totally hear Kevin Conroy saying all of Batman's dialogue), Javier Rodriguez's vibrant colors, and most of all, the expressive artwork of Marcos Martin and Alvaro Lopez. Their art is energetic and dynamic, their storytelling is rock-solid, and they just bring the whole book to life. The book was a joy to read from start to finish. I'm not saying every superhero comic should be this way, but it wouldn't hurt if more of them were!

Next Week: Batgirl continues her adventures in the confusingly titled Batman: Batgirl!

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