“It’s only the end if you want it to be”
From Gail Simone.
This is probably what stings the most about the New 52: rhetoric concerning Barbara Gordon. I will elaborate.
Okay, first and foremost though this is a blog dedicated to all Batgirls.
I wouldn’t be attempting to start up my own webcomic fanseries based around them if I didn’t appreciate any of the characters. Hell, I love Barbara Gordon. I am twenty-two and I grew up with her as Batgirl on Batman The Animated Series when I was threeish to five years old and then The New Batman Adventures. Basically my entire childhood there has always been Batman and Barbara Gordon Batgirl. My earliest memories Batman was HUGE with kids older than myself and so omnipresent due to the Tim Burton movies. I saw Mask of The Phantasm in theaters. I was Batman at least twice for Halloween and a literal Bat once.
Being said I dislike the rhetoric that talks as if Barbara Gordon Batgirl as if she ceased to exist after 1988ish when she retired and then was subsequently shot. That her Batgirl went away after that. Well, to be honest; Barbara Gordon Batgirl never ever went away. We have not been without Barbara Gordon Batgirl since 1967. How? Other media. Merchandise. Comics too.
To say a a “generation” of comics readers will be experiencing her “leaping, fighting and swinging over Gotham” is a fallacy. She lived on trough merchandise, debuted as Batgirl in Batman The Animated Series and then in comics was featured in many one-shot or throughout the 90’s flashback one-shot stories, featured prominently in Zero Hour and then was given her amazing Year One miniseries byChuck Dixon. Even as recently as 2011 we were given “flashback” Barbara Gordon Batgirl stories or ones with Barbara walking around and now the Ame-Comi Batgirl figurine has its own comic series. So to count we have since her retirement and then crippling in 1989 appearences as Batgirl in animated media:
Batman: The Animated Series (1992)
The New Batman Adventures (1997)
Barbara Gordon even following the appointment of Cassandra Cain as Batgirl in 1999 has appeared as Batgirl again in flashback of her final mission to rescue Tim Drake in
And then stared in as Batgirl
Gotham Girls (2002)
The Batman (2004)
And since the appointment of Stephanie Brown as Batgirl in 2009:
Young Justice (2011)
Super Best Friends Forever shorts (2012)
She also appears as Batgirl in the videogames
Then remember any accompanying comic series for those series. To say a generation has yet to see her experiencing her as Batgirl for the first time is just not true. It’s just not. In fact they use her too much. She’s the only one they ever use. This generation just grew up with her in alternate media other than comics. I would sometimes look at comics when I was younger and was surprised to learn she was not Batgirl and vaguely remember reading bits of No Man’s Land. So I never even truly knew Cassandra Cain as Batgirl.
Another thing I’ve noticed with Barbara Gordon compared to the other Batgirls: people comment on her appearance. That “Barbara looks hot. Batgirl is hot in this issue.” And quite frankly that disturbs me as she comes off as perhaps the most fetishised of all three main heroines in fanart. Perhaps its due to her character age, her “iconicness”, I mean she was certainly always drawn pretty gorgeous when introduced even if given the “Hollywood Homely” treatment when working as a librarian. Looks like Ed Benes will continue that tradition!
This leads me to her new book. I dislike it immensely. It has some of the poorest writing I’ve seen from Gail Simone. No big surprises. Bad art. Bad plotting and villains. Melodrama left and right and possibly the most irrational reaction from a parent ever. And I am not saying this as a fan of Stephanie Brown or Cassandra Cain. Hell even Stephanie Brown’s run had its writing and characterization issues. I am saying this as a fan of Barbara Gordon and from a perspective of a writer who is very dissapointed in her portrayal. Even if degaged and stripped of a certain degree of experience her characterization is terrible, even with the spin of yes having her have a form of PTSD she has yet to show any of her stengths. Gail is failing at what a young person my age is like today. There is nothing joyous or inspirational or anything of “Classic Barbara Gordon” in her new book. And it is such a shame if you think at what it could have been or what they could have done.
Personally, yes the writer in me would probably have kept Stephanie Brown as Batgirl and would have with the reboot made Oracle more of a field agent; more Major Motoko Kunisagi, and of course have her deaged a bit. Then fold in Cassandra Cain Black Bat and retire Stephanie’s Book for Batgirl Inc. Instead of fracturing the fanbase even more, unite them. The excuse Oracle was a stale concept is entirely on the writers; those that helmed her. I can think of 5+ different ways to improve upon her as Oracle that would if used correctly would have been an amazing change. Hence this is why I committed to start my Batgirl Incorporated fancomic but I decided, sure, keep Barbara Gordon as Batgirl in it but model her after my Kunisagi make-over. Because yes, when Barbara as Batgirl is written well, she is amazing. It’s just a shame we are not getting that.
Yes from a monetary standpoint to make Babs Batgirl again was wise, but then again I feel a unified Batgirl book or to coincide with Barbara’s Batgirl solo, the Dustin Nguyen’s Gotham City Boys And Girls Club concept team-book with Damian, Stephanie as Spoiler, and Cassandra as Black Bat would have outsold most likely anything Robert Liefeld is doing for DC Comics right now. It would satisfy a much needed niche and have made the blow to the roster shake-up softer. True Damian may not be in a great place to lead a makeshift team but it is something that could truly do well and should really be considered by DC Editorial.
I would go on about media and how DC Comics needs to realize the internet, animation and both the youth, tween and female oriented market is entirely the way to go and drop the pandering to the 18-65 crowd in a time where Barbara’s Batgirl is selling in the upper 40k range while videos on Youtube and viewers tuning in Young Justice andLegend of Korra every Saturday can be in the millions, but that I will reserve for another post. But yeah, Barbara Gordon as Batgirl fanatics cut the rhetoric out, she is everywhere.
I agree with most of this. One thing I’d like to add:
“but we’re doing everything we can to be respectful to this character’s amazing legacy”
I find this hysterical considering Barbara’s legacy has been practically destroyed post reboot.
Batfam bookmark!! Left out some characters though ;;;;
I miss them, too…but WOW what a gorgeous piece of art, and perfectly conceived! Who drew this, may I ask?
Just posting three of the greatest ladies in all of comics.
Because some people STILL like to pretend that TWO of them don’t exist.
Oh cool, actually that’s one of mine. Glad you liked it! (Though I think there’re a bunch of things I could fix on it.)