Batgirl: Year One
Writers: Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon
Penciler: Marcos Martin
Inker: Alvaro Lopez
Distributed By: DC Comics
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
All Barbara Gordon has ever wanted was a career in law enforcement. Throughout her life, she would try just about anything and everything to achieve that goal. Against the growing criticism and seemingly insurmountable odds, Barbara Gordon strove to reach the unattainable. Unable to become a law enforcement agent in any official capacity, Barbara gave up looking for a legitimate way of attaining her dream. Instead, she entered the world of the nighttime vigilante and proved her worth fighting the criminals of the underworld alongside the likes of Batman and Robin.
Batgirl: Year One is a trade paperback combining issues 1-9 of the 2003 comic series of the same name. This series provides a new take on the origins of the original Batgirl. Throughout the series, Barbara Gordon struggles to overcome stereotypes and roadblocks in her attempt to prove her worth as a crime fighter. This is a newer, more high-tech, Batgirl than older comics depicted. In the running commentary of Barbara Gordon’s thoughts, writers Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon give us some insight into the woman who will later transform herself into the high-tech, all-seeing, all-knowing Oracle. They also manage to give us a more in-depth look at how romance first blossomed for Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson.
Although I am a fan of the Batgirl comics of old, I thoroughly enjoyed this revamped version of one of my favorite caped crusaders. Not only is this a tale of a crime fighter’s beginnings, but it is a tale of empowerment for young women. If any one song could be used to define Barbara Gordon’s attitude toward all those who scoff at her desire to fight crime, it would be No Doubt’s Just A Girl. She believes in herself, despite the nay-sayers who think she’s just a girl, weak and naïve, with no future in the business of fighting crime. Throughout the story, Barbara is met with many set-backs and non-believers, but she continues to believe in herself and her abilities and comes out triumphant. Just when you think she is about to give up on her dream, Barbara’s resolve kicks in and she stubbornly moves forward with her plans, giving the criminal world silent warning that she will not back down in the face of adversity. This is a lesson every young woman should learn well.
The artwork in this series is often times cartoonish. Renditions of one of my other favorite heroines, Black Canary, leave much to be desired. However, the storyline is well written and the action is well-drawn, thus taking away from any of its negative points. Of course, the tale is not all drama and the comedic moments are to be commended. One particular moment that cracked me up involved Batgirl, Robin and a would-be villain, Condiment Man – “Nobody move! A shot of this Dijon in your eye and you’ll be sorry!” Too funny! The dialogue between each character is perfectly written and banter between the characters both believable and enjoyable. Also interesting about this trade paperback is the bit of origin information regarding Private Detective Jason Bard, a one time romantic partner of Barbara Gordon’s.
All-in-all, this trade paperback is well executed. The story flows well, is believable, and is incredibly entertaining. Fans of the old series may not like the changes made in the background story, but they will accept it as a well-written series. Anyone knew to the comic book scene is sure to enjoy Batgirl: Year One, especially all those fans new to the Birds of Prey series who will love reading about Oracle’s life as a caped crusader. At $19.99 (U.S. currency), this trade paperback is a steal!
Read more about DC Comics! Check out these titles:
Birds of Prey
Black Canary / Oracle: Birds of Prey
Birds of Prey: Old Friends, New Enemies
Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds
Birds of Prey: Sensei & Student
Birds of Prey: Batgirl / Catwoman & Catwoman / Oracle
Birds of Prey: Between Dark & Dawn
Crisis on Infinite Earths