BATGIRL/ROBIN: YEAR ONE is a comic book tour de force, and a wonderful example of how poignant and fun super-hero stories can be.
Unburdened by decades of continuity, which has become increasingly convoluted with each passing year and occasional reboot, writers Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon take Batgirl and Robin back to their roots, retelling their first adventures as Batman’s sidekicks, and dealing with all the emotional and physical consequences of their occupation. Beatty and Dixon explore the mentality needed to overcome impossible odds and face dastardly villains; not always with relentless solemnity, sometimes with a smile and the occasional glimpse of overconfidence. The writers treat Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon as the adolescents they are; inexorably determined to succeed, but flawed because of their youth and lack of experience. They aren’t perfect heroes; they’re kids, wearing coloured costumes, just trying to do the best they can for the mission, and to impress Gotham City’s caped crusader.
Marcos Martin and Javier Pulido handle the art, aided by the colour work of Lee Loughridge and Javier Rodriguez, and combined their style is reminiscent of the Batman animated series from the nineties. If anything, their artwork belies some of the darker themes that resonate throughout the narrative, but it is never anything less than highly effective, and always stylish.
Super-hero comics aren’t for everyone, but if you’re looking for a taster, you won’t find a collection worthy of higher praise than BATGIRL/ROBIN: YEAR ONE.