Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Batgirl Returns (Finally)


I recently heard that DC Comics is going to reboot its entire superhero universe, starting this fall. There are some rumors circulating that this rebooting is supposed to dovetail with DC making its comics available online and they hope that the combination of narrative rebooting and digital distribution will help them build a newer, larger fan base. It's not like DC hasn't done this before, starting with Crisis on Infinite Earths and then in other multi-issue, multi-title "event series", so I really have no idea how this rebooted DC universe will be in terms of quality. So far, though, one piece of good news has come out of this: Barbara Gordon will resume her role as Batgirl.


I've always liked the Barbara Gordon character, and I thought that she got a raw deal when they crippled her in The Killing Joke and then left her to remain in her wheelchair while dozens of other DC characters were either miraculously healed from the most dire of injuries or resurrected from the dead. Even when DC would trot out Babs and her post-paralysis alter ego, her computer hacker pseudonym "Oracle", as an example of how progressive-minded they are by having a handicapped character in their superhero universe, it sounded like a cheap platitude to me. This was largely for the following reasons:
  • Even though DC felt fine with leaving Babs crippled, they found a way to cure Bruce Wayne of his paralysis after the supervillain Bane broke Batman's back with bare hands. In other words, DC is willing to have a handicapped character as long as it isn't one of their cash cows. (This is another reason why I usually prefer Marvel to DC, because I know that Daredevil and Professor X wouldn't take this crap.)
  • One of the details that is always left out in the retellings of Bab's injury in The Killing Joke is that the Joker proceeded to sexually molest her after crippling her with a bullet to the gut. So while DC was happy to have Babs be the resident disabled person of their superhero universe, they weren't too comfortable with acknowledging that she was also their resident sex abuse survivor.
I'm not sure what prompted DC to have Babs resume her role as Batgirl as part of the latest reboot. It could be that they've finally gotten over the equal pay public service announcement that featured Batgirl, or perhaps the male head honchos at DC finally grew up and realized that girls aren't "icky" after all. This could also be a purely economic move, because DC has probably sold more Babs-as-Batgirl merchandise than any other kind of Batgirl or Babs-as-Oracle merchandise. Regardless, this finally puts an end to DC's floundering around to find someone else to assume the Batgirl mantle.

It's great to have you back as Batgirl, Babs. You deserve it.


2 comments:

  1. Funding--do how did she become batgirl without the funding or drive of Bruce Wayne?

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  2. Funding for Batgirl? Ask the writers at DC Comics about that one. After all, they're the ones who came up with the Batman Inc. plot idea, and I didn't think that Bruce Wayne could fund THAT many Batmen no matter how rich he is. That said, I don't expect the DC reboot to change Batgirl's drive or source of funding for her vigilante activities. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

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