Ooh. This ask made me realise that I actually hadn’t read a lot of Babs-as-Batgirl stories outside of BGYO (and the New 52, which as far as I’m concerned doesn’t count). So, with the help of Google and fuckyeahbatgirls’ handy essential reading list, I went searching.
I read through number of pre-Crisis Batgirl stories, including Detective Comics #359 (Batgirl’s Million Dollar Debut), Detective Comics #422-424 (the Babs-runs-for-Congress arc) and Detective Comics #497-499 (Babs gets framed for murder). As you said, these stories tend to be pretty silly, but they can also be quite fun, and in amongst the ridiculous plotting and the one-dimensional villains, they can explore some interesting territory. I have lots of thoughts about Babs running for Congress in particular, but I might tl;dr about that another time.
So, post-Crisis. There’s been a number of oneshots and flashback stories featuring Babs as Batgirl over the years. Some of these are pretty terrible/uninteresting (I don’t recommend bothering with Batgirl Special #1, either of the Batman: Batgirl comics, DC First: Batgirl/Joker or either of the Birds of Prey Batgirl team-up oneshots), but there are some really lovely stories out there as well.
1997’s Batman Chronicles #9 has a sweet little story from Devin Grayson titled ‘Photo Finish’, depicting Batgirl and Robin’s first meeting. BasicalIy, it’s Babs and Dick being total teenagers and trying to make themselves out to be Proper Grown-Up Crimefighters to each other, and then finally settling for being friends. So cute.
Kelley Puckett, Terry Dodson and Kevin Nowlan did a nice two-parter in Legends of the DC Universe #10-11 (1998), taking us back to Babs’ early days as Batgirl and examining her relationship with her father as she’s finding her feet as a hero.
Gotham Knights #21 (2001) features an adorable little Batman Black & White back-up story entitled ‘Day & Night in Black & White’, which follows Babs’ day and night jobs in parallel. It’s cute as anything, and cleverly constructed besides. (The story is also collected in Batman Black & White volume 3.)
Gotham Knights #43 (2003) has Babs reminiscing about a long-ago team-up with Robin!Jason. It’s got some rather nice moments in there.
‘The Cat and the Bat’, from 2008’s Batman Confidential #17-21, follows pretty much directly on from BGYO. It’s the story of Babs’ first encounter with Catwoman, after Selina steals Commissioner Gordon’s notebook and Babs is determined to get it back at any cost. It’s a really fun, entertaining romp, though Kevin Maguire’s art is very hit-and-miss for me: there are some lovely expressive panels in there, but there are also a lot of downright weird faces and a lot of the time Babs ends up looking like she’s just smelled a turd.
Babs!Batgirl is also the star/co-star of two utterly delightful DCAU comics — Batgirl Adventures #1 (1998), in which Harley seeks out a favour from Babs, and Gotham Girls (2003), a five-issue miniseries centred on Babs, Renee, Harley, Ivy and Selina. Both are fantastic, fun reads.
BGYO is still my favourite of the lot, though. :)
Anybody else have any Babs-as-Batgirl recs?