Batman: Arkham Knights–Batgirl Begins
DC Comics (digital first; 2015)
WRITER: Tim Seeley
PENCILER: Matthew Clark
INKER: Wade Von Grawbadger
COLORIST: Rob Schwager
“COVER” ART: Matthew Clark & Rod Reis
LETTERER: Travis Lanham
DESIGNER: Randy Mayor
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Brittany Holzherr
EDITOR: Alex Antone
Set in the world of the Arkham games (specifically Arkham Knight, which I believe is a prequel) Barbara Gordon, daughter of Gotham City police commissioner Jim Gordon, is a librarian, who is also transferring microfiche to digital storage. Meanwhile, the mayor wants to prove that Batman is just a man without any supernatural ability, which would ruin his early mystique and his psychological edge. (Whether the mayor is corrupt or butt hurt over the vigilante doing better than the cops at this point the book doesn’t demonstrate.) At the reveal of a museum piece to that end Commissioner Gordon is attacked by Killer Moth, a new villain in this story who fancies himself the “anti-Batman”, a “Batman” for crooks who can pay up. To protect her father and Batman’s reputation Barbara puts on the fake costume and proceeds to defeat Killer Moth and identify who he is. The embarrassed villain tries to run off but not before running into Batman, who warns “Bat-Girl” not to go down this path. Obviously she won’t be listening to him.
What they got right: As an origin for Batgirl this works very well. Changes to Barbara’s actual origin are done for the sake of the continuity but the important parts are there. The story sets up her ability to fight through dialog but since it’s a natural conversation as she drops martial arts for ballet (also showing how her dad doesn’t want her to fight, which is part of his early character interactions with her), so when later she is able to take on Moth and his goons you believe it. She’s also able to pick up on clues that reveal who Killer Moth is if you don’t know the character from other media and as the reader so was I, so it foreshadowed that in a mystery series properly.
What they got wrong: I don’t know if a print version of this was made but I am curious how that would look. This cybercomic is formatted for reading on tablets and smartphones.
What I think overall: This was a really good showing for Barbara and proof you can both adapt an origin properly while updating it and show a strong woman who is also a good character. I liked it.