January 05, 2005

BATGIRL: YEAR ONE

BATGIRL: YEAR ONE. (Writers: Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty. Pencils (?): Marcos Martin.) This book examines the first year of Barbara Gordon's career in crime-fighting, as she struggles to gain acceptance from Batman and others. It's charming, intriguing, and playful by turns, a pleasant hour's entertainment (even if it does hit the FORESHADOWING: YOUR KEY TO QUALITY LITERATURE button a few too many times), and a comic I would gladly hand to a girl to read. It is one of the far-too-rare mainstream stories that deal sympathetically and intelligently with the difficulties faced by a young woman breaking into a heavily-male-dominated profession; Clarice Starling and Barbara are cousins. The art is suitably bright and full of the joy that Barbara takes in motion.

Still, in the end, it is hard to escape the feeling that this book merits its "young adult" label. Because it's more explicit, but not terribly sophisticated in what it does say, this book actually feels a little younger than the all-ages BATMAN ADVENTURES, which keep more beneath the surface, do. You rarely get the impression that you are meant to think much further than Barbara does (and it's more than a little disconcerting that her age is not clear--her voice seems rather young for someone who has a master's and begins the process of applying to the FBI, which has a minimum age for special agents of 23--especially when she starts flirting with a Robin who seems to be only 15 or 16). When I was finished, I didn't feel I'd come away with any startling insights into Barbara's character, comics themselves, or the world. This isn't a requirement for an enjoyable comic book, but from the hype I'd expected a bit more.

Posted by Sarah T. at January 5, 2005 05:33 AM | TrackBack
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