I loved Barbara Gordon when she was Oracle and haven't cared for her since she returned to the Batgirl mantle. I just haven't liked what I've seen and only saw her written well maybe twice. That was when Johns and Lobdell wrote her simply because she sounded like her old self. But I decided to give this a try since it's a different writer, Barbara isn't Batgirl yet and to help ease into the Zero Year stuff.
The Who: Barbara Gordon
Age: 14. I believe it's been said that she's now the same age as Dick and he was listed as 15 in year 1.
The Situation: With Jim Gordon away from home he puts Barbara in charge of looking after her younger brother James during a storm.
One thing I can't stand about her character is how she constantly seems to have extreme cases of superiority and inferiority complexes at the same time. This might have happened from time to time as Oracle but it's been unbearable in recent years. Like it can sometimes be with Tim Drake the character tells you their smart and so does everyone else. Her trauma with guns was overplayed and she always seems depressed. In this issue she's actually pretty damn cool. While Barbara has her moments of doubt she steps up to provide the city with another hero for the night. It's not something she sets out to do but finds herself doing all the same. This is a Barbara I can root for and find inspirational.
Looking through it a second time I can definitely see some potential foreshadowing moments but the difference between this and what I've seen of Simone's work is that I don't believe it's intentional. Barbara staring at a gun isn't used as a wink or a nudge to Killing Joke. It's used to show how desperate the situation is and works well because of it. Sure you can say that Barbara saving James or not being able to stop someone from falling over is a nod to Simone's run but I think it's all a matter of perspective. And I like that, this isn't heavy handed in the least.
I don't think anyone but Snyder can capture James and how creepy he could be. James had a quirky personality that always kept people guessing if he was kidding or not. While some moments are there including his matter of fact explanation of what's happening and the art showing him disliking Henry touching some of it is a miss. I'm not sure if he would freak out over Barbara rushing back to help others. Be surprised yeah but he sounded concerned. The whole point of his character was that he couldn't feel empathy for anyone.
I knew Henry was going to be a jackass right when he asked for their things but I wish his turn was handled a little different. Barbara was talking about how extreme situations make people act desperate yet Henry acts smug about it. I would have liked to see some reaction to his home being on fire but only Barbara mentions it in her thought boxes. He doesn't act like he's trying to steal out of fear but just because he can. I would have like to see Barbara use her father's police gear but all she does with it is keep mementos? A good issue but I could see Stephanie acting the same.
What I get from this, which will likely be the theme of all Year Zero tie ins, is how one acts during a crisis shows why their heroes. Barbara Gordon passed now let's see how the others fare.
Questions Asked?: Has it ever been said how much younger James is? He looks like he's two years younger than Barbara so 12?