Monday, April 9, 2007

Barbara Gordon is Batgirl (Barbara Gordon trilogy III)

It occured to me that some folks reading this blog might not know who Barbara Gordon is.

Barbara Gordon is Batgirl.

The original, true, unhyphenated Batgirl. She was proceeded by Kathy Kane in the early 60s (Bat-Girl, more of a Robin clone than an independant character in her own right) and has been followed by Cassandra Cain, but to most people my age (or familiar with the campy Batman TV show) Barbara Gordon is THE Batgirl.

She is also my favorite comic book character.

Many of her early appearances (her first was in 1966) are not very notable. The character was often written as Batman with boobs. Harmless fun, but hardly the pinnacle of sequential fiction.

Things got a little more serious in 1988, in the one shot Batman: The Killing Joke. In an attempt to drive Commisioner Gordon insane the Joker shoots Barbara in the spine, paralyzing her. At the time I had no idea how important that would become to me personally.

This was not the end of Barbara's crimefighting career. She resurfaced a little later as Oracle, seen only as a computer generated face. Eventually she became a sort of communication hub for the DC universe, and currently directs a small team of heroes in the book Birds of Prey. She still uses a wheelchair.

Where this really gets to me personally can be summed up with something Gail Simone said on a message board when asked who Batgirl is now.

"Barbara Gordon is Batgirl".

Not was. Is. True she doesn't put on long underwear and jump around the rooftops of Gotham anymore, but the fundamental fact of Barbara's WHO does not change because she uses a wheelchair. I'm not there (yet ... we'll see what lies in the future) but I do have fairly severe mobility problems. I personally find Barbara's story and the way it has played out ... inspirational.

Inspiration from a funny book. Who woulda thunk it?

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