Sunday, August 28, 2005

Favorite Female Characters #20: Barbara Gordon-Batgirl-Oracle

Suicide Squad 49
Originally uploaded by Heidi Meeley.
Barbara Gordon is one of the comic book females I most admire. She has been through the ringer both physically and emotionally, yet has come out the other side with bravery and a radiant inner strength.

Seen first as Batgirl in Detective Comics #359, Barbara Gordon was seen then as a carefree, smart as it comes, daredevil. Not afraid to stand up to Batman and Robin, but able to keep her secret from her father James Gordon, Batgirl was as cool as it gets.

In her tenure as Batgirl, Barbara was a librarian and a Congresswoman. She dated a handsome private eye and flirted with the boy wonder. Great friends with the pre-crisis Supergirl, Barbara was on top of the world.

Then along came Post-Crisis life and The Joker. In The Killing Joke, Barbara is shot and paralyzed by the Joker, who is unaware of her dual identity. Initially targeting her father the police commissioner, Barbara is the victim of sour irony.

Not content to have a pity party for the rest of her life, Barbara honed her skills in the computer field and for a time worked with Suicide Squad. As seen in the cover featured, Barbara went through a rough patch that further strengthened her conviction to never give up.

Fate and great timing brought Barbara to Dinah Lance AKA Black Canary. Not content to be the Bat Squad's tech girl, Barbara wanted to solve crimes and correct injustices she cared about. With Black Canary by her side, they have gone through many ups and downs but have always managed to maintain their original vision of justice. Huntress has also come into the "Birds of Prey" environment, and Power Girl has visited it from time to time. The focus is on Barbara and Dinah, and their quest for justice.

As a character in a wheelchair, I feel a certain empathy with Barbara. My grand mother has been confined to one since the early 1970's and has never allowed it to be made an issue. When I see my grandma, I see the person, not the disability, and I think that Barbara has had that effect as well.

I love to read any comic book that has Oracle's name attached to it because I know she will be there standing up for what is right, and not letting others around her falter. She is a strong woman who has taken crappy circumstances and made them work for her. I also love to see her with Nightwing and hope that someday that relationship may continue again. Though Barbara is not defined by their relationship, it adds a softness and a third dimension that is not to be denied.

If you aren't too familiar with Oracle, pick up any of the Birds Of Prey trades, or Suicide Squad back issues. Also, she played a big role in Batman Family comics as Batgirl back in the day. Pick up an issue or a trade and see what I mean.

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