Today’s Super Comic — Batgirl: Year One #1 (2003)

Batgirl: Year One is a fantastic miniseries from beginning to end…but I only had time to reread the first issue, so we’ll focus on that.

There have been a few different Batgirls over the years, but this book focuses on the original, Barbara Gordon, as she’s just starting out.

The issue jumps around in time a bit, kicking off with Barbara in her first outing as Batgirl against D-list costumed criminal Killer Moth, in a sort of “How did we get here?” set-up. Then we rewind to not long before that, where we’re reintroduced to Barbara as a young woman who wants to be a cop. Unfortunately, her father rejects her ambition outright, and being as he’s the police commissioner and all, he kind of has some say in the matter.

But Barbara isn’t one to let others tell her what to do with her life. So she hatches a plan to reach out to her hero. And no, it’s not Batman—it’s the Black Canary, in a nice nod to their future friendship in Birds of Prey.

Barbara makes a compelling protagonist and an excellent role model for younger readers. She’s intelligent, resourceful, brave, determined, and willing to put in the hard work. And, for the most part, she’s so positive. No angst-ridden darkness to be found here.

Writers: Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon

Penciler: Marcos Martin

Inker: Alvaro Lopez

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Batgirl: Year One (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 11 and up

Today’s Super Comics — Doctor Strange: The Oath #1-5 (2006-07)

doctor_strange_the_oath_vol_1_1If you’ve never read a Doctor Strange comic, the best place to start is the miniseries The Oath by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Marcos Martin.

Doctor Strange’s origins inform the story, and the titular oath is not of the magical variety. His selfish, arrogant past haunts him, both externally and internally, as he discovers an elixir that could cure cancer worldwide. It’s a perfect premise for the character, and the execution is spot-on.

The Night Nurse co-stars, and as a fellow medical professional, she’s a natural fit and a good viewpoint character to introduce us to Doctor Strange’s world. (By the way, the Night Nurse is the inspiration for Rosario Dawson’s Claire, who appears in every Marvel Netflix series. And kind of funny in hindsight—Strange and the Night Nurse keep referring to each other as “Sherlock” and “Watson.”)

The third leg of our team of protagonists is Strange’s manservant, Wong, and the tremendous respect between him and Strange guides much of the story.

So if you watch the new movie next weekend and want to dive into the comics, I recommend beginning here.

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan

Penciler: Marcos Martin

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Doctor Strange: The Oath (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up