CREDITS: Written by Hillary J. Bader; art by Bo Hampton and Terry Beatty.
REVIEW: We're soon to return to the New Batman Adventures, the series that pushed Gotham some time into the future of the original series, leaving us to wonder just what happened during the hiatus. It wasn't just that characters were redesigned, but STUFF evidently HAPPENED, and a new status quo was in place. The Batman Adventures: The Lost Years is a 5-issue mini-series that claims to give us answers to our questions, and as such, feels much more relevant than other DCAU comics. These are stories that likely won't be contradicted, that decisively happened and are part of canon. And that counts for something if you're a fan.
Put plainly, this issue finally shows Robin walking away from Batman, more over his methods than the usual trust issues, though Dick doe bristle at Batman's quickness to trust the still green Batgirl. As Robin leaves, Batgirl is brought into the team officially, someone Batman think he can still mold, less rebellious than her college boyfriend (they graduate). And yet, there's an enjoyable flippant side to her that's sure to bug the Bat. Maybe not being his ward will soften his approach, except we know from the animated series it won't. He's hard on her too. It's a bit ambiguous, but Batgirl figures out Bruce Wayne is Batman and Dick is Robin, though I don't think she's sure, and is still shocked when the former shows her the Batcave (with Alfred amusingly admitting to being Batman in case it's a mistake). But Bruce also figured out she was Batgirl, which should have been easy for him if he'd really wanted to find out. Here, it happen accidentally, just from spending time with both "girls" and noting similarities and schedule hiccups. I think there could have been more intrigue to it, but it's fine.
As for the action, I really like Hampton's dynamics, atmospherics and humor - nice art all around - but there's an awful lot of fighting ordinary crooks. Several sequences of it, in fact. Not that I mind the Batman Family going up against "normal" crime, especially when the focus is on the protagonists themselves, but the crime plot really did very little for me. What were the crooks doing again? I already forgot. And we were promised the Joker too. Tsk.
REREADABILITY: Medium - The personal lives of the Batman Family members is where the good stuff is, but the issue is padded with meaningless action.