|Batgirl: Year One|
|Publication date||February – October 2003|
|No. of issues||9|
|Written by||Scott Beatty|
|Editor(s)||Matt Idelson (original series)|
Anton Kawasaki (collected edition)
|Batgirl: Year One||ISBN 1-4012-0080-X|
Batgirl: Year One is a nine-part comic book mini-series published by DC Comics from February to October 2003, and then compiled into trade paperback form. Written by Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon, with art by Marcos Martin and Alvaro Lopez, the mini-series shows how modern Barbara Gordon became the first Batgirl. It served as a sequel to Robin: Year One and the two mini-series were collected as a trade paperback in 2013.
After graduating college in her teens, Barbara Gordon hoped to follow in her father into law enforcement, but is derailed by his over-protectiveness and society's prejudices. This leads Barbara to adopt the vigilante persona of Batgirl.
Barbara relates the Greek myth of the prophet Cassandra, who wore a mask to hide her shame from those who ridiculed and ignored her prophecies, even after they came true.
When she asks her father and Gotham City police captain James Gordon for permission to join the GCPD, he forbids it out of concern for her safety. Barbara applies to be an FBI field agent, but is dismissed for her youth and stature, despite her obvious aptitude.
Barbara finds inspiration in costumed vigilantes, particularly the superheroine Black Canary. Using information stolen from her dad's office and the assistance of computer hacking friends, Barbara breaks into the headquarters of the Justice Society of America, leaving a note asking for Black Canary to mentor her.
Barbara arrives at a rendezvous point expecting Black Canary, but finds JSA member Wildcat. He tells her that he didn't give Barbara's letter to Black Canary because she wouldn't be interested, and advises Barbara to give up. After Barbara leaves, Doctor Fate predicts "triumph and tragedy" in her future.
Disheartened, Barbara falls into a slump for several days. Her father invites her to a masquerade ball for police officers and Gotham's elite. Barbara shows up in a modified Batman costume, poking fun at her dad’s controversial dealing with the vigilante. But before she can make her presence known, the ball is interrupted by novice villain Killer Moth, who attempts to kidnap Bruce Wayne.
Captain Gordon intervenes and is knocked unconscious. Barbara engages Killer Moth, letting Wayne escape to don his Batman costume and calls his sidekick, Dick Grayson, aka Robin.
Barbara chases Killer Moth into a forest but he escapes via helicopter, leaving her to be met by Batman and Robin.
Batman demands to know who she is and tells her she has no right to wear his symbol. Killer Moth returns in a helicopter and opens fire with a machine gun, taunting Batman, Robin, and "Batgirl". The three scatter and Killer Moth is chased away by police.
When her father and a young officer named Jason Bard check on her at home, she pretends to have been too ill to attend the ball. Her father leaves an obscured photograph of Batgirl and a scrap of her costume from the ball, leaving Barbara to wonder if he suspects more.
She builds on the Batgirl persona and foils minor crimes around Gotham. After buying new equipment, Barbara decides to test a rappelling rope by swinging off of a skyscraper, unaware Batman and Robin are watching her scale the building.
A disgraced Killer Moth tries to convince mobster Tony Bressi to employ him as muscle, but is dismissed for getting publicly beaten by a girl. It is revealed that Killer Moth's true identity is bankrupt ex-millionaire, Cameron Von Cleer, who owes money to Bressi.
Barbara leaps off the skyscraper and her rope snaps mid-descent. Robin swoops in to catch her, admitting that Batman cut her rope with a batarang since the rope she was using would have sliced her hands off or dislocated her arms once it went taut. Incensed, Barbara tries to attack Batman but is knocked out with sleeping gas.
Barbara wakes up in the Batcave and Robin gives her a tour. After successfully completing an elaborate combat simulation, Barbara tell them she is as capable as them. When Batman asks about her motivation, she is unable to give a clear answer - except that she simply can and believes Gotham needs all the help it can get. Unimpressed, Batman has Robin knock her out once more with sleeping gas.
Barbara wakes in front of her house without her cowl on. She realizes this means that they know who she is and frets they might tell her father. Later, Barbara receives a package from Robin containing crime fighting equipment, including the correct rope for swinging off buildings and a note assuring her Batman will come around.
Rejected by Gotham's underworld and his own henchmen as a laughing stock, Killer Moth is approached by pyromaniac Garfield Lynns. Looking for an outlet for his sadistic tendencies, Lynns offers to help Killer Moth exact revenge on Batgirl and form a criminal partnership. Lynns adopts the persona of "Firefly", complete with a flamethrower. The duo’s first act is intimidating Bressi into hiring them.
Bressi attempts to frame Firefly and Killer Moth by sending two henchmen to abduct Captain Gordon while wearing Killer Moth and Firefly costumes, and they shoot Officer Bard in the process. As they take Gordon to a secluded greenhouse to kill him, Bressi calls the real Killer Moth and Firefly to the location, and then alerts the police.
While investigating her father's abduction, Barbara bumps into Black Canary who also wants to save him. Believing Batgirl to be an 'official' associate of Batman, Canary offers to go to the greenhouse with her.
The pair arrive at the greenhouse and Bressi's henchmen take Gordon and flee. On the way to the greenhouse, the real Killer Moth and Firefly spot their impersonators being chased by Black Canary and Batgirl. The imposters lead everyone to Bressi's home, where the real Killer Moth and Firefly ambush them.
Firefly deduces Bressli's plans, incinerates the impersonators, and causes an explosion. In the confusion, Barbara evacuates her father and the costumed villains escape. Leaving Black Canary to watch over Gordon and Bressi, Barbara walks home as her motorcycle has been destroyed.
Gordon calls for a meeting with Batman, only to be met by Robin, who assures him that Batgirl has nothing to do with them. Gordon warns Robin that Batman needs to stop Batgirl or he will do it himself.
Barbara visits Officer Bard in the hospital and he reveals he will need to leave the force because of his injuries.
Robin presents her with a new Batcycle and invites her on an emergency call in Gotham's subway network.
Batgirl and Robin arrive at a subway platform and arrest novice criminal, the Condiment King, for harassing passersbys. Robin tells her that he was just a detour — the real emergency is a hostage situation on a train. Robin suddenly kisses Barbara and they continue towards a runaway train.
Aboard the train they find Blockbuster, a deformed behemoth, terrorizing passengers. Barbara baits Blockbuster into fighting her while Robin evacuates the passengers to another car. Barbara’s narrowly survives the fight when Blockbuster is knocked out by a concrete overhang.
After delivering Blockbuster to the police, Robin tries to kiss Barbara again but she pushes him away. Captain Gordon finds a lock of Barbara's red hair in Blockbuster's hands which causes him to rush home.
Out of costume, Barbara is confronted by her father who had been searching her room. Before either of them can say anything he receives an emergency call and leaves the house. Barbara follows him and sees GCPD Headquarters set ablaze by Firefly and Killer Moth. Barbara decides to suit up as Batgirl once again.
As Killer Moth and Firefly escape, Batgirl tethers herself to their helicopter as it flies off. Unable to ground the villains without killing them or Batgirl, Batman and Robin wait to see what she can do.
Barbara forces the helicopter to crash on a rooftop while she falls into a rooftop pool. Killer Moth and Firefly are apprehended by Batman and Robin as Barbara watches from a distance.
Days later, she is invited by Batman to the Batcave where she battles simulations of his most dangerous enemies. Batman warns that if she continues being Batgirl, this will be her future. After she completes the challenge anyways, Batman takes her to the graves of Thomas and Martha Wayne and reveals his identity, allowing Barbara to understand the reasons behind his mission and symbol. Barbara swears to uphold Batman's ideals, but asks a favor in return.
On the roof of GCPD Headquarters, Batman and Batgirl meet Captain Gordon. Batman tells Gordon that he wishes to take Batgirl under his wing and asks for his approval, but is rebuked. Their meeting is interrupted by Barbara entering the roof. As Batman and Batgirl disappear, Barbara asks her now confused father who he was talking too. The 'Batgirl' Gordon saw turns out to be Robin in disguise.
Barbara helps Jason Bard set up an office where he plans to work as a private investigator, and she reveals an interest in politics.
As Batgirl, Batman, and Robin fight Scarecrow together, Barbara narrates that while she could keep worrying about her future, she rather focus on the now.
Several years after the publication of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which permanently altered the history of the DC Comics Universe, the company steadily began to publish mini-series rebooting the origins of its major characters. Batgirl: Year One makes several changes to Barbara Gordon's origin myth in order to reestablish her characterization in the Modern Age. Notable changes from the character's Silver Age origin include:
The story also inserts themes and motifs which foreshadow her transformation into the information broker Oracle:
The mini-series was generally well received. The artwork by Marcos Martin and Alvaro Lopez was particularly praised. It was described as a "dynamic" retelling of Batgirl's origin story. Dixon and Beatty's writing in Batgirl: Year One was commended for "modernizing without losing touch with the essential core of her character". The series was also praised for its wit and was voted best mini-series of 2003 by Wizard Magazine. It was cited as an inspiration for Faith Erin Hicks's original comic series, The Adventures of Superhero Girl.
After all, Warner Brothers animation director (Wonder Woman, Justice League) Lauren Montgomery had cited interest in doing a Batgirl animated film based on the 'Batgirl: Year One' graphic novel in the past.
When asked about continuing the "Year One" line with Batgirl, Timm was a little more optimistic: "I suppose we could sneak it in there. I'd love to do it, personally."