Wait, this was $3.99? I actually had to flip back through this one to see if there was extra content because it certainly felt like the average $2.99 length and it definitely doesn’t have a glossy or embossed cover. It’s 28 pages of Batgirl before she was Batgirl and I’ll leave it to you to decide if a Barbara Gordon one-shot is worth it to you, but for me this could have easily been any teenage girl.
In this Zero Year tie-in, Jim Gordon leaves his two children home alone as the storm of the century is about to tear through Gotham and it’s up to young Barbara to protect the homestead. But almost as soon as Jim leaves, another police officer arrives to evacuate the entire block because it’s in the extended flood zone. Knowing she’s leading her little brother into danger, Barbara armors herself in her father’s riot gear and the two march into the storm for a night they will never forget.
Batgirl #25 is a halfway decent, self-contained story about survival but it doesn’t accomplish much that Gail Simone’s Batgirl #0 didn’t do already. In that issue we saw a teenage Barbara cast into a situation that needed a hero and she not only rose to the occasion, but the experience also gave us our first glimpse of her in a cape and cowl. And since the story dealt more heavily with the GCPD and life in Gotham it felt more ingrained in the world of Batman. Batgirl #25, however, is a more generic survival story that would fit nicely in any disaster movie. It’s entertaining, sure, but the female lead could have been anyone. Nothing about the main character really had that Barbara Gordon stamp on it. And the rainswept city? It could’ve been any city overwhelmed by a storm. It’s a one-shot that would’ve worked in Metropolis, Star City, New York, wherever. Not bad, but not the surprising showcase of the character’s early days that we got from the likes of Green Arrow #25 or Action Comics #25.
That’s not really author Marguerite Bennett’s fault though. This character simply isn’t ripe for the picking yet! Barbara Gordon already had a flashback story to these years in September of 2012, hence the similar themes at play. And, like the rest of the bat kids, Barbara really doesn’t stand a chance at having that interesting of a Zero Year story because while Green Arrow and Superman are at the start of their careers and it’s fun to see what they do in the face of disaster, Barbara, Jason, and Dick are still just children and have not had their turning-point moment that’s set them on the hero’s journey. Trying to shoehorn in some bonus moment prior to their calling to the journey has every potential to be both desperate and unnecessary.
All of this, of course, doesn’t excuse how horribly Jim Gordon is depicted. Why didn’t Jim Gordon take his children some place more safe? Why didn’t he stay with them? Why didn’t he race back home as soon as he heard that his neighborhood was being evacuated? It only took 2 panels between Jim’s goodbye and the evacuation of his home so he probably could’ve seen the cop cars on his way out the door. At the very least it keeps with the depiction we’ve seen in Simone’s run where Jim Gordon is an equally poor father and a buffoon. I mean, his daughter runs into the house screaming, shaking like a leaf and all Gordon say is “Are you alright? You’re shaking like a–” and then gives no followup question. Just shoves off to abandon his kids. Had he inquired some more he would know that someone just aimed a gun at little Barbara’s head.
Speaking of consistency, this issue retains the usual art team which will make for a lovely sense of cohesion in the eventual graphic novel. While Simone sits this one out, Pasarin and Glapion deliver some of the series’ best imagery yet and make this story of survival all the more harrowing with splash pages of the city on fire or giant crashing waves that bring down entire buildings. Even the quiet moments are nice. I rather liked one page that showed Barbara’s memory of the Gordon household as it was and then juxtaposed that with its currently barricaded state… although their placement of the TV looked very uncomfortable!
- You really think that a teenage Barbara Gordon tie-in is worth $3.99
- You liked Batgirl #0
- You enjoyed Marguerite Bennett’s writing on Lobo #1 and the Batman Annual #2
This is a very human story with a few good moments in it and some nice artwork here and there, but in the end I found it to repeat some of the same beats as Batgirl #0 and ultimately be really unnecessary. I would have much rather had the final part of the Batgirl: Wanted Saga but unfortunately that tale continues to be as disjointed as possible. It’s only a 3-part story and yet it’s been interrupted not once, but twice.