After hearing a lot of hype for these stories I finally got around to reading them.
Robin Year One
It was nice to get Alfreds' thoughts on Batman taking a partner. I was happy that we got a glimpse of Dicks' school life. The Mad Hatter plot was creepy in a way I wasn't expecting for a Year One title for Robin. I enjoyed this much more than BYO but not as much as NYO. There was A LOT of ideas in this that seem to be taken from Jason Todds' story. Two Face beats up a Robin? Joker finds out and wants to remind Harvey that he has dibs...which added with Nightwings' taunting in NYO seems to set up the growing obsession. There's also the bit where Bruce fires Dick which leads to him running away. Yet Dick isn't blamed for this behavior even though his disobeys Bruce. Which like BYO seems to underline the fact writers are picking favorites.
I didn't see the plot going into a League of Assassins direction and the fact Dick considered killing Two Face is brushed aside. While I thought this was okay I hate to say it but neither book had much of an impact on me. I read them a few days ago and the stories already seem forgettable. I had to look through the pages again to remind myself of story details.
Batgirl Year One
I like to think this didn't work for me because it was hyped up so much as the definitive Babs story and why she works as Batgirl. Maybe that plays a part but there are other reasons. There are plenty of nudges to her future life from Dr. Fate, her partnership with Dinah, being shot by Joker and becoming Oracle. Barbara herself annoyed me quite a few times but I'll get back to that. She's in a world she has to prove herself, right? Well it sometimes goes overboard with that idea like the scene when she's at the dojo. I saw a panel or two online before I read this whole story and assumed some jerk in her class was bothering her. But no it's the sensei and that really bugs me. What's the point of her being in his class if he wants to demean her and isn't aware of her abilities? Is he the one who taught her, is he new? Why is she going to this dojo if he doesn't seem to teach her anything and mocks her to the point he's gleeful at the idea of getting her to cry? Does she just waste her money to put him in his place?
I'm not fond of the reason Barbara became Batgirl, I heard it before but I thought this would at least have been executed better. It's pretty immature as she just dresses up to piss her dad off at a costume ball then gets caught up when Firefly appears. When Batman confronts her over her using his image and not earning the right she completely sidesteps his questions. She asks what right he has to play vigilante when he's asking about the Batgirl costume copying his. And he's right, other than the fact we know she becomes Batgirl there doesn't seem to be a reason for her not making her own image.
During the scene where Batman and Robin take her to the cave there's a bit I hate where she apparently assumes their going to assault her. Which feels like you hit a brick wall when you pick up on her implications. What does she have to say after being defying to nearly everyone she meets? That if they try anything she'll scream. What?
Batman has misgivings yet he still secretly helps her out via Robin assisting her and giving her some of their toys. This takes away from her achieving her own success and I felt it would have worked better if he gave her them later on after she earned them. It certainly makes his treatment of others (Stephanie for example) baffling since he abandons them yet helps Babs just so she doesn't die.
Dick acts a little sexist here and in RYO since he seems to think girls can't do as much damage in a fight. This wouldn't be as bad if he was much younger but he's supposed to be a teen and it doesn't come off too innocently. Since he's trying to hook up with her (not sure how old she's supposed to be here) his charm isn't entirely present. I hate to say it but I found him more than a little creepy at times.
Now I have a lot of problems with the new 52/DCYOU Barbara Gordon. She's always had these problems it's just that the reboot has magnified them to unbearable proportions. Some of that is here which grates on my nerves. Batman asks her why she's doing this and even she doesn't seem to know at first. Sure she has noble reasons but there's also some selfish ones too. You know how everyone says Stephanie and Jason were far too reckless?
Well our lead is extremely reckless to the point she ignores Dicks' warning of approaching a brute head on since he hates bats. Immediately she ignores his warnings just because she can. Dinah keeps saving her ass and I'm not sure how far she would have gotten if Bruce and Dick didn't help her out. Barbara is arrogant but unlike her current counterpart at least she's a bit more likable.
I was more bored than annoyed although I am disappointed because I was hoping to see what everyone loved about this mini. I haven't seen anything as of yet that has proved Babs was as iconic as Batgirl as everyone says.