While Batman is famous for lurking in the shadows, Beatty and Dixon’s Batgirl is in the shadows for an altogether different reason. Barbara Gordon is the daughter of Gotham’s top cop, Commissioner Jim Gordon. No matter she does, she’s Commissioner Gordon’s daughter. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons that the Commish doesn’t want his daughter fulfilling her dream of becoming a cop. “One in the family is enough!” he says. Does he mean one family member under constant scrutiny, or just that he doesn’t want his daughter in danger? Since her father is hell-bent on keeping her off the Gotham Police force, Barbara Gordon takes matters into her own hands and becomes a vigilante styling herself as Batman.
She’s dubbed Batgirl (she would’ve preferred Batwoman) and once again is in the shadows. Batman seems to take her as someone playing hero and out her league. This bugs Babs. “Who gave you the right?” she asks the Bat. That’s Year One of Batgirl – Barbara Gordon creating her place in Gotham, regardless of what people tell her she can or can’t do. I have mixed feelings on this version of Barbara Gordon. On one hand, I appreciate how determined she is – it’s one of her best traits in any iteration of the comic. On the other hand, she’s really mad all the time. I don’t like grimdark Batman (broody yes, grim no), and I don’t really like angry Batgirl, either.
What I did really enjoy in this book is the art. Marcos Martin’s look for the book is somewhere between the modern Babs Tarr Batgirl (I’m a big fan and have reviewed three of those Batbooks on this site) and the retro art in Batman ’66. The characters are cartoony but more realistic than Bruce Timm’s iconic style. Batman and Robin have more retro looks, while Barbara’s costume is more modern. The colors of the book give it that retro 60s/Hanna Barbera look, as well.
The plot is solid, Babs is lovable as ever (if a little grim), and the art is fantastic. 3.5/5 stars. Any Batgirl recommendations?