Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Profile: Batgirl 1/Oracle

Barbara Gordon, Batgirl 1/Oracle
First appearance: Detective Comics in 1967

Current status: today, she works as computer master Oracle, the info broker in the DCU for many superheroes and other crimefighters.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: in 1988, in Batman: The Killing Joke, she was shot and paralyzed by the Joker, who’d arrived at her apartment with the intent of striking at both Commissioner Gordon and his niece. After shooting her, he added insult to injury by photographing her in her helpless state.

What’s wrong with how this was done? Some could argue that it was sensationalism gone amok. Perhaps additionally troubling is that DC decided to put the premise in actual continuity, when writer Alan Moore hadn't intended it that way when he first began it.

Was there anything good to come out of this? The good news is that Alan Moore, when he wrote that special back in 1988, did handle it well, by providing Babs with her own viewpoint/voice, and handled it with a lot more sensitivity than what you find in many of today’s writers. Also, Babs has since become Oracle, and proved herself effective even in a wheelchair, both as a combatant* and as a computer whiz.

And since then, the really grisly elements of the Killing Joke, such as the Joker’s porn photography, have been discarded from continuity.

* Not that she actually does go around as a vigilante; far from it, but when danger's about, she doesn't ever cop out.

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