Batgirl: Year One
Scott Beatty & Chuck Dixon
(p) Marcos Martin
(i) Alvaro Lopez
FC, 224 pgs, $17.95 US / Higher in Canada
Barbara Gordon wants to be a crime-fighter. She has studied it, trained for it, but she just can’t seem to make the cut. Her father, James Gordon, is the police commissioner and the last thing he wants or needs is his little girl becoming a cop. After applying for a position in the FBI and being unceremoniously shown the door, Barbara decides to take the matter into her own hands. Thus the legend of Batgirl begins.
This story is a heartwarming, quick-witted and highly entertaining look at what it takes for a regular Joe (or, in this case, Jane) to become a superhero. Barbara becomes a close friend as we read about her struggles against her father, Batman and organized crime in order to become the hero she believes she is. Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon write a down to earth character with whom we can all relate. She has more faults than she does perfections and it’s the learning curve point of view that makes this story so interesting and readable. Whether you’re a superhero nut or not, this is one book that is accessible.
Via a clever narrative account, Beatty and Dixon get us inside the head of Barbara Gordon, drawing things out of her, which builds a relationship with the reader, thus cleverly attaching us to her failures and successes as she slowly and sometimes painfully learns how to be the crime-fighting hero she always knew she was.
Just in case you think this book is serious and focused on character growth alone, let’s delve into another side of the story. There is a ton of witty humour to be found within these pages, with many a wisecrack coming from the quick-witted Babs. It’s an old school book, looking at the early years of Batman’s Gotham City, so the humour is also of that era in many places, but this does not make it any less effective or downright hilarious in many instances.
Marcos Martin bursts forth with some of the most appealing and stylish simplistic art since Cameron Stewart’s heralded run on Catwoman. Martin seems the perfect choice for this story as he renders a classic look onto City of Gotham and its people. His action scenes are both dynamic and dramatic, with some gorgeous angles employed during the story’s climatic scenes.
His character design is well suited to the time period, and yet has a distinct, funkier edge than most Bat books published when this comic was released (i.e. 2003). With amazing new angles and ideas, Martin has surely opened many an eye to his talents with Batgirl: Year One’s awesome artwork, including its sets of covers.
A story of a young woman coming of age as a crime fighter with a focus on her down to earth origin– this is a personal story of triumph against the odds that is marked with as many roadblocks as it is with moments of victory. (Iain Duncan)