DC has published a whole line of these Celebration books. From what I understand, this is the last one, at least for a while. And what a note for them to finish this up on. Batgirl: A Celebration of 50 Years should be the gold standard on how to assemble one of these books. In it's limited space (less than 400 pages), it manages to cover the true spirit of Batgirl. While it's the Barbara Gordon Batgirl who graces the cover and is the best known Batgirl, there have been others and they are all represented here. The book starts off with a Betty Kane Bat-Girl story before devoting the most space to Barbara Gordon. It also covers Helena Bertinelli's very short run as Batgirl as well as Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown before returning to Barbara Gordon.
The one thing I found odd about this collection is the placement of a story from Batgirl: Year One. It's the second story in the Barbara Gordon section. While the stories presented are in chronological order of when they happened, I would have preferred this story to show up at the end of Barbara's section, not the beginning of it. But that's a minor nitpick.
I love that they've included the story of Barbara running for Congress (and winning!) as well as a story from Batman Family. I'm still holding out hope that DC will reprint Batman Family in some shape someday.
At work during my lunch breaks, I'm reading a volume of Batgirl featuring Cassandra Cain, so expect a post about that shortly. I enjoyed the Cassandra stories in this volume. Until I started reading the trades collecting her run, I really had no experience with the character. Stephanie Brown never truly felt like Batgirl to me. While I enjoyed the stories, I think I would have liked her in her Spoiler identity better. She just felt hollow to me as Batgirl.
The one story I didn't really care much for in this volume was The Last Batgirl Story. It was a special published back in the day. DC was retiring Batgirl (see The Killing Joke) and issued this special as a grand send off. Only it was awful and felt like a bad inventory story rather than a last hurrah.
This book is everything!
Batgirl: A Celebration of 50 Years
Writer: Bill Finger, Gardner Fox, Scott Beatty, Chuck Dixon, Frank Robbins, Bob Rozakis, Barbara Randall, John Ostrander, Kim Yale, Greg Rucka, Kelley Puckett, Dylan Horrocks, Bryan Q. Miller, Gail Simone, Cameron Stewart, Brendan Fletcher
Artist: Sheldon Moldoff, Charles Paris, Carmine Infantino, Sid Greene, Marcos Martin, Alvaro Lopez, Gil Kane, Don Heck, Irv Novick, Vince Colletta, Trevor von Eeden, Rodin Rodriguez, Barry Kitson, Bruce Patterson, Brian Stelfreeze, Karl Story, Greg Land, Drew Geraci, Mike Deodato, Sean Parsons, Damion Scott, Robert Campanella, Rick Leonardi, Jesse Delperdang, Tim Levins, Lee Garbett, Don Davis, Aaron Sowd, Trevor Scott, Pere Perez, Ed Benes, Babs Tarr