Monday, June 6, 2011

The Importance of Being Batgirl

If you've been paying ANY sort of attention lately, you know I've been acting a fool for the past few days ever since learning that Barbara Gordon would be returning to the role she debuted in back in 1966 - Batgirl. For me, this has been the comic book announcement that couldn't be more welcomed as this year marked the turning point where Barbara had been the in the role of the wheelchair bound Oracle longer than she had ever been swinging around Gotham City in tights and a pointy mask. What I guess I wasn't expecting was that there would be an equal number of voices out there who would be vehemently opposed to this reversal.

Case in point, a blogger with a far wider audience than I have, whose thoughts on the subject can be found here:

Now, to be fair, I cannot truly relate to where this author is coming from. I'm blessed and fortunate enough to be as physically healthy as I want to be. But while I'm not disabled in any way, I know plenty of people in my life who are, including my own father. And while that doesn't mean I know what it's like, it does mean that I can at least understand and appreciate the fact that a lot of what I take for granted is something they wish they could simply do on their own. And out of all of the people I know who have a physical disability, not one of them would, if given the opportunity to be restored to full health, choose to remain disabled. Not one of them would pass up the opportunity to regain the full use of their bodies; to run; to jump; to not have to call 911 if they slipped while trying to move from their wheelchairs to their bed... to be able to bathe themselves...or be able to eat. Unfortunately, we don't live in a world where that's really possible...but Barbara Gordon does.

Barbara (or, Babs) was introduced during a period of lightheartedness in the Batman books that is long since gone. She was a fun character, full of life and youthful energy. She was a nice foil to not only Batman's villains, but also Batman himself. She first appeared in Detective Comics, and then a year later became a main character in the popular (but campy) Adam West Batman television series and then made the move to the comic books soon thereafter. She remained a staple of the Batman mythos for almost 20 years before DC Comics decided it was time to retire the character for whatever reason. Ironically, the comic that saw Babs hang up her tights and utility belt was the first comic book that DC ever produced that was eponymous with the character.

Now, if the story had simply ended there, we wouldn't be where we are today. But it didn't...a year or so later, comic book writer Alan Moore (the same guy responsible for Watchmen) penned what is (In my honest opinion) the single worst comic book ever published, the graphic novel entitled "Batman: The Killing Joke".

Meant to illustrate the similarities of how Batman and his arch nemesis the Joker came to be, the graphic novel is most remembered for how the Joker showed up at the home of Police Commissioner Gordon and rang the doorbell. When Barbara (no longer Batgirl) answers the door, Joker pulls out a gun and shoots her. If this weren't bad enough, while it's never explicitly stated in the comic (or any subsequent issues), it's heavily implied that he shoots her in her vagina. The bullet shatters her spine and paralyzes Barbara Gordon from the waist down.

And if THAT wasn't bad enough...the Joker then strips her naked and takes pictures of her...naked, bleeding out on the carpet, clutching at her wound (which, as I said, is heavily implied to be her vagina).

Joker then kidnaps Commissioner Gordon, leaving Barbara naked and helpless on the floor of her father's home. He takes Gordon to his lair, strips him naked, and then proceeds to psychologically torture him in an attempt to drive him insane. As you can imagine, when Batman finally catches up to the Joker, he beats his oldest nemesis to death, rips his head off his neck and then takes a giant-sized bat-shit down his neck...after all, that is simply the most logical thing to do when an absolutely insane psychopath cripples one of your old partners and demonizes your closest friend...

Of course, if you read the comic, you'd know that wasn't the case at all. The Killing Joke actually ends with Batman capturing the Jokerand handing him over to the Gotham City police to once again be incarcerated until he escapes to terrorize innocent citizens once again. But, because that would be a really shitty ending, before he's led off by the Police, Moore has the Joker tells Batman a joke. The comic actually ends with Batman and the Joker laughing hysterically together at the joke like two old friends.

Now, just to make sure you've been paying attention: Barbara Gordon, who from her first appearance was a hero who was able to hold her own alongside Batman and Robin, was shot...not in the line of duty, but answering the door to her father (the Police Commissioner)'s home. That right there should be Strike One. The disrespect factor is set at 10 right from there. Not only would you NEVER see an established male character being taken down in their civilian identity, you'd never see an established male character being so stupid as to answering their door in the middle of the night without checking to see who it was (as a side note...if the Joker has escaped from his asylum...AGAIN, wouldn't the Police Commissioner probably know that and be extra guarded?).

Not only is she shot, but she's shot in the vagina. Strike Two. Again, you'd never see Superman or Batman getting their balls shot off. It's (once again) disrespectful, and only goes to show the level of misogyny present in this story.

She's stripped naked...and photographed. Only recently, as an afterthought, was a DC comic published that clarified that Joker did NOT rape her as she lay there bleeding, but you'd certainly be forgiven for thinking that if you didn't read the Page 6 retraction 20 years after the fact. Even though her father is later also stripped naked and tortured, Commissioner Gordon is just a supporting character in the comic books. While a police man is a REAL hero in the real world, in the Batman world he's just second fiddle. When Jason Todd (the second Robin) died a few years later after getting beat to death by a crowbar and then blown up in a warehouse, his Robin costume was still in tact. Superman (in the death of Superman story) was beaten by a monster with spikes protruding from his knuckles, yet 80% of his costume remained on him. So Strike Three.

That's an OUT if there ever was one. The Batman laughing the whole thing off with Joker at the end is enough to have the entire team ejected from not only the game, but the entire league (yes, I'm mixing metaphors here horribly)...and if you find yourself wondering how something this horrible and depraved could have actually made it past the Batman editor and actually published, well...the editor was the one who (honestly and literally) exclaimed gleefully at the top of his lungs "Yes! Cripple the Bitch!" after hearing Moore's idea for the story.

Let me repeat that: "Yes!" (with a exclamation mark), "Cripple the Bitch!"

Now, to be fair, another comic book writer; John Ostrander did his best to restore Barbara to a role of prominence within the comics by turning her into the cyber wizard Oracle (think Watchtower from the Smallville TV show, only in a wheelchair), and subsequent authors like Chuck Dixon and Gail Simone made her one of the most important characters in the DC universe. And while a good portion of comic book readers may only know Barbara as Oracle, the fact remains that what was done to her was misogynistic and just plain sick.

Encompassing all of this is the fact that not long after she was crippled, Batman (yes, THE Batman) had his back broken by rookie supervillain Bane. Bruce Wayne, confined to a wheelchair like Barbara Gordon, handed off the role of Batman to another vigilante. Of course, that lasted roughly a year, and while the new comer protected Gotham City, Bruce used the resources that are present in this fictional world to heal himself and not only walk again, but swing from building to building without so much as the need for an occasional Vicodin.

And you know what happened when Bruce healed and became Batman? No one blinked an eye. No one stood in protest and demanded that he remain in a wheelchair to inspire real life people with disabilities. No, fans were excited because THE Batman was back. Of course, if there was an issue where Bruce offered to take Barbara to the same healers he saw, I never read it...but I have read enough issues of Birds of Prey (a series that featured Oracle as one of its main characters) to know that Barbara eschewed several attempts to heal herself. Why? REALLY good or convincing reason was ever given. She was a normal woman shot by a normal bullet by a normal (insane) man. There's no reason that she would have given to be able to heal herself and be able to live her 'normal' life again. Even if SHE preferred to be Oracle rather than Batgirl, why wouldn't she choose to be able to be Oracle with the ability to walk and go to the bathroom without some sort of assistance?

I, as a minority, understand the need to have heroes who represent us. I would be PISSED if Marvel decided that Northstar or Hulkling we're going to "make the switch" and start chasing women...but they were gay from Day One. They weren't made to be gay because some twister writer came up with the idea and an editor screamed "Yeah, Fuck his Ass!"

Has Oracle been an inspiration to people living with disabilities? Clearly as referenced in the linked to post she has. But that doesn't change that what was done to her was fueled by the callousness of a man in a depraved storyline (Moore, not the Joker). There's no reason that Babs should have been left in a wheelchair while Bruce was able to cast his aside without a second thought. If Superman can come back from the dead, and Bruce Wayne can walk again, then any reason that was given both in story and in real life as to why Barbara Gordon was confined to a wheelchair was bunk and an excuse to perpetuate one of the most sickening and misogynistic storylines in popular culture. Making Barbara Gordon Batgirl again, and doing so in the pages of her own series isn't recanting on the promises of a diverse's justice.


  1. Well thought out and well written. Did you know that Gail Simone herself tweeted this article?

    I can see how you could easily interpret Moore's story as misogynistic. Therefore I can understand why you are excited about her coming back. The problem is that she has long been established as Oracle. I never knew her as Batgirl. I've known Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown as Batgirl. I've grown to love these characters for their portrayals in each of these roles. To suddenly return the Batgirl mantle to Babs may seem right to you, it seems like a betrayal to fans who have grown to love her in her role as Oracle. Also, it means that both Cass and Steph are being shoved out of the spotlight. Incredibly, as of writing this, both characters are still in comic-book limbo...there isn't even certainty if they survive the reboot.

  2. I am in a wheelchair and I would never, ever choose to walk. I have been given several opportunities to have surgery done and go through physical therapy to gain the ability to walk. It is part of who I am.

    Please do not speak for me.

  3. @T3h Kaiser

    He was just saying his opinion. I doubt that he was trying to speak for all disabled people.

  4. It's an unpopular opinion, but I've always thought killing Joke was a horrible, over rated story as well. You pretty much nailed it on the head there.

  5. @Nathanael Hood

    Admittedly not, but I felt it was implied here:

    "And out of all of the people I know who have a physical disability, not one of them would, if given the opportunity to be restored to full health, choose to remain disabled. Not one of them would pass up the opportunity to regain the full use of their bodies; to run; to jump; to not have to call 911 if they slipped while trying to move from their wheelchairs to their bed... to be able to bathe themselves...or be able to eat."

    I don't know, this article just rubbed me the wrong way. Sorry if I seemed self righteous. I just don't like the idea of someone claiming that this is the way things should be without being able to speak from the perspective of a disabled person.

    Granted, I've never seen Oracle as much of an inspiration - and in fact, fictional disabled characters tend to make me uncomfortable - but the idea of DC giving Barbara a quick fix is depressing.

    And this says nothing of how much it disrespects all the character growth Barbara has gone through. What happened to her in the Killing Joke might have been a terrible thing, but the beauty of her was that she got past it and became a strong, inspirational lady. Now she is literally where she was when she was just a teen girl.

  6. I don't think that correcting a 25-year-old instance of misogyny is a fair trade for erasing the existence of a disabled superhero.

  7. Interesting article. The only complaint I would have is the "shot in the vagina" bit. I actually looked at the art, and she's pretty clearly shot in the lower abdomen, but too high up to be in the vagina.

  8. @T3h Kaiser

    I think you nailed the reason why I feel so hurt over this change...all of the development that Babs went through is going right out the window....

    Oh well...I'm confident that Gail Simone will keep her legacy alive and kicking.

  9. @michael

    Same here. I don't think that she was shot in the vagina, either. It was clearly in her lower abdomen.

  10. As an Oracle fan, I have to say the fact that she is a role model for people in wheel chairs is not that important to me. What angers me is no other character in the entire DC universe is expected to or Highly celebrated about being forced to revert to their teenage identity. No one cheers and screams constantly that Dick should be Robin again despite years of development to become Nightwing (and yes Dick is going back to being Nightwing but he was never written as making Batman his own mantel. It was established early on he was just playing the role of Bruce as Batman not his own unique Batman, one of the many reasons I was not a fan). No one screams that Donna Troy should be Wonder Girl again or Garth should be Aqualad or Roy should be Speedy. Why? Because we saw them grow up and take on new identities that fit them better. So why is it with Babs who RETIRED as Batgirl, was a Congrss Woman, and has said countless times that she out grew being Batgirl even before being shot is she expected to just go back to being Batgirl again as if NONE of this happened even if she was magically healed tomorrow? That honestly pisses me off! You would not expect Obsidian or Northstar or Pied Piper or The Question, Batwoman, Shatterstar or Richtor to go back in the closet now and pretend to be completely heterosexual again would you? No! Because we have seen these characters grow and change and accept themselves. Why does Babs now have to go back to a time she herself views as a childish adolescent stage just so a few rabid fans will shut up about it? It has taken 20+ years to build Babs up as one of the single greatest heroes of the DCU and now she's being forced to pick up a mantle that apparently ANYONE can have since even Stephanie Brown,who has trouble figuring out which end of the batarang is the pointy end, was Batgirl. Steph is the same girl mind you that nobody could train as Batman, Canary, and Cass said she'd get herself and others killed in the costume, which she did, then when given the chance to screw up again took the Batgirl mantle without batting an eye. So.. We're taking one of the most unique characters DC has, a woman who has admitted to outgrowing the mantle, and we're forcing her BACK into that mantle to make her another generic Bat-character (which is worse mow that we have Batmen all over the world, 3 former Robins, 3 former Batgirls, 2 Batwomen, and a Flamebird). Man I could not be MORE thrilled. While we're at it.. Let's make Superman be Superboy for the remainder of this relaunch and Wally can be Kid Flash, Bart can be Impulse and everyone will just de-evolve and any growth any character has had shall be forgotten :)

  11. @Pied Piper

    I can tell that you harbor a lot of anger and passion over this issue. I agree completely with what you said expect for one point....I don't think that her time as Oracle is being retconned away. I think that she will become Batgirl again WITH her tenure as Oracle still alive. If anything, I'm curious to see how she will act as a crime-fighter now that she has the knowledge of what it's like to lose everything and be given a second chance. There's some interesting chances for drama, here.

  12. There's actually an in-story explanation for why Barbara stayed in the chair, given the fact that she lives in a universe where literally anything can happen and she could have been healed: she didn't want to use an advantage that others may not have. It's the same reason Professor Xavier has remained paralyzed, and is along the same lines of the "Spear Of Destiny" post-Crisis retcon used to explain why Superman didn't just punch out Hitler to end WW2.

    Aside from you not liking "The Killing", which is your opinion and something I won't attack you on, your reasoning behind liking the change is simply because that's who she was before. Which is fair, and you accurately applied that Batman post-"Broken Bat", but that change that brought Bruce back was due to lack of popularity of Jean-Paul Valley, so from a sales point that makes sense.

    Barbara is MORE popular (and important, both in-universe and in our world) as Oracle than she was as Batgirl. Even due to DC's universal retcon to clean up origin stories and whatnot, wouldn't it make more sense to keep her paralyzed and in a popular role than heal her and explain that healing and who she was before?

    Furthermore, you complain about misogyny in "The Killing Joke", yet Barbara is going from a non-explicitly sexualized female character to one that wears fetish gear, plus the implied disrespect that comes from referring to an older woman (older than Stephanie Brown at least) as "girl". If Tim Drake can move on from Robin to Red Robin, and if we have a Batwoman, what purpose does an older Batgirl serve?

  13. I think it worth noting - with all the people who are talking about what a bad story The Killing Joke is - that Alan Moore would be the first to agree.

    Granting that he's come down on most of his comic works harshly in recent years, he always felt Killing Joke was a mistake for several reasons, most of them boiling down to him trying to add another layer of darkness to characters who didn't need it.

  14. I remember being equally sickened by the events of the Killing Joke as you. I remember wanting to vomit by the time I got to the end of it. They destroyed a piece of my childhood but today I am equally sickened by the decision to erase Oracle from the world and take her from the people she inspired whether they be wheelchair bound or not like myself. I can not and will not buy the Batgirl title and feel very betrayed by Gail Simone involvement in said title. I won't be buying Birds of Prey for the first time ever, I have been reading since the Chuck Dixson mini series. You can't just throw 3 or 4 female characters in a title and tell us it's Birds of Prey. I may be in the minority here but then I hear that DC is all about diversity now. Well except for people in wheelchairs that is.

  15. I think many victims of horrific crimes, sexual and other, would tell you the point of their lives is NOT that they were victims, but that they overcame the moment that brought them down.

    Oracle was an amazing character because she overcame this devastating moment. For readers who haven't been around for 40 years, she's the kickass woman who happens to be in the wheelchair, not the girl who got shot in the vagina. If DC is honest about who they want to retain and attract, servicing the old fans who can't get past the event when the new readers most CLEARLY have is probably a massive mistake.

    Frankly, these returns to iconic BS just alienate those of us who have been reading for 5 years, and prevent us from becoming people who read for 50.

  16. T3h Kaiser:
    I said, and you quoted:

    "And out of all of the people I know who have a physical disability, not one of them would, if given the opportunity to be restored to full health, choose to remain disabled. Not one of them would pass up the opportunity to regain the full use of their bodies; to run; to jump; to not have to call 911 if they slipped while trying to move from their wheelchairs to their bed... to be able to bathe themselves...or be able to eat."

    The first part of that quote: "and out of ALL OF THE PEOPLE I KNOW IN WHEELCHAIRS..." you don't know me, I don't know you...previous to last night we didn't even know the other existed. So after reading that, AND QUOTING IT, you took offense to it and felt the need to say "dont speak for me"?


    I honestly read your comments and came to the conclusion that you actually came here with boxing gloves on, looking for something to be offended about.

    I did not speak for you...nor would I. In return I would ask that if you're going to read what I have to say, then actually read it, and not put words in my 'mouth'.

  17. I wonder how much of the Oracle/Batgirl divide is driven by people who never knew Barbara as Batgirl?

    I can certainly understand that to comic book fans who came into this world with Barbara as Oracle why this looks like a tremendous step backwards, especially given all of the forced justification in the books as to why this particular change had to be the one to stick around.

    However, Barbara Gordon (as Batgirl) has far more widespread appeal than Barbara Gordon as Oracle (wheelchair aside). She is, I would argue, the most recognizable comic book heroines there is. She's been in all the Batman cartoons, plastered all over novelty items available from Walmart to mall stores, and gets far more love from mainstream action figure manufacturers than Stephanie or Cassie have.

    All that aside, if Barbara had retired after the Batgirl special and then become Oracle, I doubt we'd be having this discussion. But she didn't. Much like Carol Danvers getting attacked by Rogue and 'joining' the X-Men in Avengers Annual #10, Barbara becoming Oracle was Ostrander's way of salvaging the character who was all but discarded after "The Killing Joke".

    But even then, the problem is deeper than that (at least to me)...if Barbara had been shot while defending her father or herself, or the citizens of Gotham, then that completely changes things. But that wasn't the case. She was taken down like a (Extreme pardons for the word...) bitch. Off the top of my head I can think of two instances where a super villain shows up and knocks on a hero's door: Uncanny X-Men #171 and Batman: The Killing Joke. In the former, it's Rogue doing the knocking and who, despite being a villain is at the X-Mansion in tears seeking help. Regardless, Peter Rasputin is on guard and opens the door as Colossus because of the unusual nature of the the latter,Barbara and her father are sitting at home in the middle of the night discussing the depravity of the Joker, and then she goes to open the door without even looking (either out the door or even AT the door while she's opening it), because SURELY it must be girlscouts selling cookies out in the nighttime hours.

    I've always felt that DC has been the more misogynistic of the big two companies. Granted that both DC and Marvel have their moments to be ashamed of when it comes to the treatment of their female characters, but Marvel's biggest two (again, IMO) are the 'rape' of Ms. Marvel and the abandonment of Madelyne Pryor...both of those are subtext, where as DC's have been explicit. From Barbara's shooting to the rape of Sue Dibny, all the way to the the storylines that saw the 'Big Three' replaced. One of you said that Bruce's return to Batman was because Jean Paul Valley wasn't popular, but that didn't stop him from getting his own series as Azrael. When Superman died, he was replaced by four males who all got a spotlight after Kal-El's return. Meanwhile, Diana was replaced by Artemis as Wonder Woman and when it came time for the original to reclaim the bracelets and tiara, it was because Artemis was beaten to death on panel.

    I'm younger than you may guess based on my opinions (I honestly read The Killing Joke for the first time at around age 12 or 13), and was 100% a Marvel Boy from ages 8-12(13). I actually went into a comic shop to find SPECIFICALLY Batgirl comic books only to learn that the only one available was the Special where she retired and then in some way was lead from that to "The Killing Joke" (that for some reason was sold to me when I was a child...IDK...). And I've read that story three times: once as an adolescent, once again at age 17 or 18, and then again in my early 20's and each time the reaction was "She was shot in her vagina" may disagree, but it still certainly appears that way to me.

  18. I don't know where the writer got the impression Barbara was shot in the genitals since the bullet is clearly seen going through the abdomen - blood spurts from just below her belt, which would be her waist. Her getting stuffed in the fridge was a crude manouevre, and one Alan Moore isn't proud of - he's long since disowned The Killing Joke.

    But did Barbara ever actually do anything meaningful as Batgirl? Yes, she led the way for female empowerment in comics, but there was still the fact she was a distaff counterpart to Robin and only fought crime out of fun. Not quite up there with Bruce and Dick's murdered parents, or Cassandra's abusive father. In fact, considering the size of the Batman Family - with Batman Inc., we've got the return of the Batmen of Many Nations - this actually makes her less unique. She's just another kid in a circus costume. Barb's most defining feature is her intelligence (she holds a doctorate, remember) - in what persona is this better expressed? Batgirl or Oracle?

    And what about Stephanie Brown? Her "death", tortured to death with a drill, had a far greater sexual context than Barbara, and was far more grotesque. Also, she is made to be the one in the wrong; her injuries are used as an example to dissuade young Gotham crimefighters. She arguably suffered worse, and has served as Batgirl, but that's being swept under the rug in favour of "the classic/original Batgirl".

    I'm sure Gail Simone will do a fantastic job, but I can't shake my unease with this. We have had superheroes of colour and LGBT heroes, but we don't have one for paraplegics? And we're taking away the most popular one just because fans want to keep going back to the Silver Age? Aren't we supposed to be moving forward?

  19. Honestly, I would guess from this article and this passage you haven't read enough Birds of Prey or Oracle Year One or her other appearances.

    "I have read enough issues of Birds of Prey (a series that featured Oracle as one of its main characters) to know that Barbara eschewed several attempts to heal herself. Why? REALLY good or convincing reason was ever given. She was a normal woman shot by a normal bullet by a normal (insane) man. There's no reason that she would have given to be able to heal herself and be able to live her 'normal' life again. Even if SHE preferred to be Oracle rather than Batgirl, why wouldn't she choose to be able to be Oracle with the ability to walk and go to the bathroom without some sort of assistance?"

    Dude, I love that you love Barbara Gordon. And I'm 100% behind you on the Killing Joke being a piece of misogynistic crap. But this thing where you start defining "normal"? You don't get to define normal. If you had read a little more about Oracle you would have known she was written as being completely satisfied with her life. As are many other people who are differently abled. Say you want her back as Batgirl because you love her as Batgirl. Say you want her back because you don't like the role of Oracle but don't say you want her back because of issues you have with what is a "normal" life.

  20. To be fair (to me and to you) I put the last 'normal' in quotation marks for a very specific reason. I hate the word. 'Typical' would be better, but even that I'm not overly fond of. Had I not written this as the ambien was kicking in I would have probably used 'typical' though. I'm not 'normal' and wouldn't choose to be 'normal'. BUT, and again, I'm basing this off of my life experience previous to last night, I honestly do not know ANYONE who is confined to a wheelchair that would choose to be if given the option. I do not know A single person who was once able to walk and run and jump as typical people do who would not go back and be able to do that again if given a chance. This includes my father who was to be a breach birth, and in the process of turning him around was given, essentially, an in utero stroke that meant from the day he learned to walk he had to rely on a cane. Throughout my life I've seen him move from one cane to two canes, and two canes to needing a chair. I've seen him go from able to walk up 13 stairs from the basement to the first floor of my childhood home to not being able to get from his bed to his chair without assistance. It kills me that I'm living my life far enough from my parents that when he slips while moving from one chair to another my mother has to call 911 to get him upright. And if you ask him what he would do if he could walk 'normally' for one hour he will tell you without hesitation "I would dance with your mother"...which tells me that it's something he's thought about.

    However, you're right about one thing: I have not read a lot (any?) comics with Oracle in them over the past 5 years. I all but dropped DC titles once they became one event that spilled into another and into another. In fact, until this month, the only DC books I've been buying have been Doom Patrol and Wonder Woman. But prior to that? Yeah, I was a regular Birds of Prey reader.

    If you're the author of the Op/Ed on Newsarama, then 1.) Kudos to you, and 2.) sincerely, my condolences on what you describe as a true loss. However, I want to clarify my opinion so that maybe you can at least understand where I'm coming from.

    As someone who has been reading about Babs since she was paralyzed, and someone who was aghast at it at age 13 as I am still at age 35, what you see as her being satisfied with her life and okay with her disability, I've always read as "decent writers making the best of a shitty situation" and "editorial mandate".

    2011 marks the 22nd anniversary of Oracle's debut. And in 22 years, I can understand a real life person making peace with their situation, but from day ONE of Barbara's paralysis she has been surrounded by people who could have healed her with a wave of their hands or a backwards "Barbara Gordon walk again." And while it doesn't maybe seem to make sense that she would decide to be healed by any means 22 years after the fact, that she did NOT seek out Zatanna or a Lazarus Pit the day she was released from the hospital and fully heal herself is something that has eaten at me for 22 years.

  21. As for 'shot in the vagina'...and all the people who say "You can CLEARLY see where she was shot"...I welcome a scan. Because you see her flying backwards, doubled in half, no CLEAR scene depicting where the bullet hit. visible.

    While I don't mean that Joker penetrated Barbara with his gun and shot her in/up her vagina, he CLEARLY shot her below her belt line, in a place where you wouldn't see the entry wound when she's wearing a running bra or was topless. So, yeah, I stand by my "shot in the vagina" statement 100%.


    About here, you can see the bullet actually enter the belt line. I've chosen the recoloured version since it's more true to Brian Bolland's vision than the original colour scheme. I can see how it looks like a shot in her genitals though, and I'm no expert on the anatomy, but at a guess, getting a bullet to the genitalia would result in it getting destroyed, but wouldn't enter the spine. The bullet is specifically said to have entered the spine as well.

    The big problem is that you want Barbara to be Batgirl, even though she had retired from the role long before The Killing Joke. Also, you decry it as sexist (and make no mistake, it is, much to Moore's regret since he normally does so well with female characters), but you're also advocating to put her in a tight leather costume that is in itself fetishistic, and to take orders from a superior male authority when previously she was her own boss and headed up a network of fellow female crimefighters. Seems like a contradiction, is all I'm sayin'.

  23. Apologies for the double post but I only just remembered this. Stephanie Brown has arguably suffered worse than Barbara. In War Games, she is captured and tortured to death by Black Mask with an electric drill. The whole "vagina shot" thing is subjective, I grant you, but this has a clear sexual implication. What makes this worse is that the blame isn't on the male Black Mask, but Lesley Tompkins, who refuses to save Stephanie because she's tired of clearing up after Batman. Oh, and there's the fact this only happened because Stephanie dared to not be subordinate, so there's a greater streak of (probably accidental) misogyny there than in The Killing Joke.

    Barbara at least was presented unambigously as the victim, but Stephanie was shown to be manipulative and deceitful, implying she's in the wrong for trying to act independently. Her disfigured corpse is used as a warning to other Gotham characters. Barbara never got that disrespect. Furthermore, Stephanie actually recovered (revealed years after War Games because comics, everybody!), is driven by a genuine desire to fight crime (as the Spoiler, Robin and Batgirl) and is starring as Batgirl in her own solo series, so she has more reason to assume the title.

    I get that Barbara has more nostalgic value, but why is Stephanie being overlooked just because she wasn't created in the 60's?

  24. So you're okay with Stephanie in "fetish gear" but not Barbara? Seriously, if you're so ashamed of supersedes that you look at their costumes as "fetish gear" why bother reading comic books?

    As for the actual mantle of 'Batgirl', and who deserves it more, I'll leave that to DC to explain along with what happens to Stephanie (and Cassie, though I have a feeling we've seen her already...) and how it comes to be that Barbara is able to walk again and whether or not she'll be 'subordinate' to anyone other than Gail Simone...

  25. Now you're putting words in my mouth. I'm not ashamed of the inherently fetishistic nature of superhero costumes, nowhere did I say I was. I brought it up because Stephanie's Batgirl costume is equipped with military boots and kevlar, and on the whole looks a lot more durable than Barbara's, which just looks more like a fashion statement. Then again, her costume is probably going to be redesigned by Jim Lee into something that looks stupider.

    Really, I think the reason Barbara's being brought back as Batgirl is for the same reason why Hal Jordan and Barry Allen were brought back. Because they were the characters Dan DiDio, Geoff Johns et al grew up with, and DC have kept cherrypicking the past. The problem is the characters they stepped on to get there - remember how Kyle Rayner was destined to be the greatest Green Lantern? Then they brought back Jordan and Kyle went from main character to support.

    And that's what's happening to Stephanie, and to Cassie, and to the Oracle as well. Barb is always going to be a female role model, and I know Gail Simone will do great. But her individuality has been diminished, especially when compared to Kate Kane, who is just as independent as Barb was in the cowl, and is even more inspirational since not only is she just as strong and independent as 60's era Batgirl, she's also an LGBT role model.

    There will be plenty of Batgirls. But there's only one Oracle.

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