“But life’s what happens when you’re making other plans, right?” Why do it is a question that comes up time and time again in masked hero comic books. For Batgirl the answer is not a Bruce Wayne Saturnly childhood trauma story. No, it is more like how the Spirit got started — although he is also a very Saturnly figure. Barbara Gordon never intended to become a masked hero, instead she got caught up in it by mistake. She had wanted to pursue a career as a police office, but her father stopped her. Other plans had to be made. Batgirl: Year one by Scott Beatty, Chuck Dixon, Marcos Martin (illustrator), and Alvaro Lopez (illustrator) is the story of how Barbara Gordon became Batgirl.
Then there is the other side to the story: The perspective of a teenage/twenty-something figuring out what to do with her life, getting started as a caped crusader and having a thinglette with Robin. Bruce Wayne is the adult here, Robin and Batgirl are going on an adolescent adventure. They are not just a sidekick and a girl using the logo, they are a part of the team too. After all Dick Grayson became a super hero in his own right. Batgirl is younger and just figuring out what to do with her life.
Add in her protective father searching her room and a dash of feminism. This is her story, Batman is just a minor character.
I have yet to find a year one book I do not like. They introduce you to a new character — perfect for a comic book character you’ve been meaning to get into — and tell you the story of how they got started. This is the perfect introduction. It is a gateway drug that will get you into harder stuff. Next thing you know you will have a pile of Batgirl comics sitting on your desk.
Comic books are all about narrative and character development. Take a common theme and make it feel new and compelling. In Batgirl: Year one you get lost in the action. You know she will be okay but how exactly does this end? Will Batman let her into the club? There’s only one way to find out: Keep flipping the pages.