Saturday, December 31, 2016

Batgirl Year One #1 (2003)

Batgirl Year One #1 (February, 2002)
"Chapter One: Masquerade"
Story - Scott Beatty & Chuck Dixon
Pencils - Marcos Martin
Inks - Alvaro Lopez
Colors - Javier Rodriguez
Separations - Heroic Age
Letters - Willie Schubert
Assistant Editor - Nachie Castro
Editor - Matt Idelson
Cover Price: $2.95

I don't have much of an opening bit here... just want to wish everyone a Happy New Year... as I am putting the finishing touches on this with about three hours left of 2016.  I think I had a pretty productive year, in many different regards... and here's hoping for an even better 2017!  I wish the very best to everybody!


We open in the... well, not present... but closest to the present as we're going to get with a face-off between Batgirl and Killer Moth's gang at a sort of costume gala.  She is in narration mode discussing an oracle known as Cassandra who was mocked for her forecasts... and held responsible when they came to pass.  This drops us into a flashback wherein Barbara is trying to convince her father to allow her to become a Police Detective.  He finds the idea somewhat laughable... and forbids it.  Babs heads up to her room in a huff, and kicks over a stack of books.

Back in the "present" Batgirl is still kickin' butt... which leads into our next flashback.  Barbara Gordon working in the research department of the Gotham City Public Library.  A goony fella walks in and makes a bit of small-talk... leading Babs to inform him that if he wants to ask her out, he's going to need to just come out with it.  Of particular note... while here, she refers to her job as "paralyzing tedium".  I'm guessing that was no accident.

We continue along to Barbara at her martial arts class where she is dealing with a very condescending sensei... the "Dragoncat".  He's really a jackass... and brings Barbara to the brink of tears as she admits that she is afraid to spar with him... all of this in front of the rest of the class.  Dude's really a knob.  He turns his back to mock her s'more... and she uses this as her opening to take him down and cinch in one helluva hammerlock.

Next we join Barbara on her interview with the FBI... where it is suggested that her best asset to the Bureau would be in researching.  She insists she would be of more use in the field... a thought that her interviewer scoffs at, claiming she doesn't even meet the height requirement... which is exactly what her father told her as well.

Back at the gala, the battle still rages.  Batgirl, still narrating, talks about masks... okay, perhaps not the most original topic for introspective superhero chatter... but whattaya gonna do, right?  Anyhoo... she mentions that she only chose her Bat-themed costume to get under her father's skin... and claims that Batman is not the one she drew inspiration from... it was actually, Black Canary!

As luck would have it (in our flashback), the Justice Society of America has just reunited.  Barbara sneaks into her father's office at the Police Department and procures his "for his eyes only" JSA security override list.  She runs it through the laminator... and sneaks out, however, not before sharing some playful (flirtatious?) banter with a young officer.

That night, Barbara chats with one of her techie pals... while he is downloading pornography... yeesh.  They are discussing Barbara's plan for the evening, which...

... comes into play a bit later on.  Barbara and Jim Gordon are watching the nightly news, where they are running a story about the Justice Society of America doing battle with Solomon Grundy.  Upon hearing this, Barbara claims to have a "late night" martial arts class, and jams out of the house.

After a four-minute run, a masked Barbara arrives at the JSA brownstone.  She uses the security override code in order to get in... and to shut down the motion detectors... and disable the laser matrices.  She makes a point of leaving the security cameras on... she wants the Society to see her.  She heads into the meeting room, and leaves a sealed envelope on the table.

She returns home shortly thereafter, and triggers a three-minute power outage to the JSA's block to reset all the locks and passcodes.  To further go "tabula rasa" she orders a new PC and ditches the old one.

We close out the issue with a crouched figure... who is holding Barbara's letter to Black Canary... only, I don't think this character has the right animal theme... Meow... At the same time, in the "present"... Barbara gets socked by Killer Moth!


Really good opening chapter here.  Been awhile since I've read this... and I'm glad to report it still goes down (mostly) smooth.

I will say I could've had a bit less of the condescending men in here... it really makes it seem like every dude in Gotham is a Grade-A jackass.  I mean, Barbara's clearly highly intelligent, and would be an asset to just about any organization she chooses to be a part of.  I just don't see it as "good business" for anyone to try to dissuade her... at least not to the degree that we see here.

I don't think Jim Gordon would go so far as to forbid her from trying to get into the police force... maybe when the story originally happened over a half-century ago, but with the sliding timescale... we gotta figure that this confrontation would have occurred in... what, the early-to-mid 1990's?  I dunno, maybe I just had the Commish pegged wrong.

On the other end of the spectrum we've got a pair of fellas who are quite taken with Barbara... and a third who downloads naked ladies while he talks to Babs on the phone.  Not the best look for dudes here, right?  Guess it doesn't much matter... this is Barbara's story, not theirs.  I suppose we're getting Barbara's perception of the events as they occurred.

Overall though... this was a lot of fun.  Tying Black Canary into the origin is a great idea... it seemed to be her "thing" in the "From Crisis to Crisis" era of DC... I mean, at this point she was also a founding member of the Justice League of America, replacing Wonder Woman!

The art here was very pretty.  My Marcos Martin experience comes mostly from his work on Amazing Spider-Man and Daredevil... it's always a treat, and it's great to see him take on these DC characters.  I enjoy the stylized pencils and coloring here... gives it a real vintage-animated look, which I feel serves the story quite well.

Definitely worth checking out.  It's a quick and somewhat light read, probably written with a trade collection in mind, not that that's anything out of the ordinary for a mini-series... but it's quite a lot of fun.  For the convenience of those interested, it is available digitally as well.


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