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  1. #151
    I am a diamond, Ms. Pryde millernumber1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atomicbattery View Post
    I read every issue of Birds, and I don’t remember those stories.

    I ask you to imagine that you are an editor at DC, in a world where there has never been a Batgirl.
    After a corporate dictate, you charge three writers with the task of coming up with a biography for the new character ‘Batgirl’.
    They return with-
    A deadly assassin, the mute daughter of two second-tier DC villains.
    The daughter of a third-tier DC villain, who dons a superhero costume to stop her dad.
    The daughter of Police Commissioner Jim Gordon, Batman’s greatest civilian ally.

    Which one would you pick? Which would any editor pick? For audience shorthand alone. But the possibilities are so rich for powerful storytelling with Barbara that simply aren’t there with Cass and Steph. And the dynamic doesn’t work nearly as well with Barbara as Oracle. The dramatic tension leaks.
    I’ll admit that the comics haven’t done much with these key relationships- Barbara and her father, Barbara and the Batfamily- since New52 or Rebirth (a lot of that has to do with a business decision- Batgirl was supposed to be the flagship title of the failed digital-first initiative, and thus autonomy, Burnside and separation from the rest of the Batbooks). There was some good stuff in the Fletcher-Stewart-Tarr Family Business arc, and Scott is getting to do some stuff now.

    Maybe you need to go outside the books to broaden what you consider a Barbara Gordon Batgirl story. If you haven’t, as you said, watched the animated series, there’s one episode that shows all the power and emotion that Barbara brings as Batgirl that no other character can, and that no longer works as Oracle. It’s by Paul Dini, and it’s called ‘Over the Edge’ Batgirl is actually barely in it, but it’s all about her- how much being Batgirl means to her, but also her fear that the discovery could destroy her world. Dini got choked up talking about it in an interview with Kevin Smith on the old Fatman on Batman podcast, and I think it’s the most emotionally powerful episode of the series.

    There’s a reason writers outside of comics keep returning to Barbara as Batgirl. It’s about her, and her dad, and Batman. I have always supported the Batgirl concept and bought every Cass and Steph book, but there’s so much more to material to mine with Barbara.
    And it’s about to happen again. Lauren Faust’s incarnation of DC Super Hero Girls comes to Cartoon Network this year. And another generation of kids gets to meet Barbara Gordon as Batgirl.
    Well, the majority of Gail Simone's stories involved her doing something more than giving orders. The majority of the argument you are presenting about Babs being boring as Oracle...ignores a huge chunk of her stories as Oracle.

    Is this a trick question? Obviously the daughter of the villain.

    As for Babs - it's not that her background doesn't provide good fodder for drama. It's that, for seven years, it hasn't been used to good effect.

    I have watched "Over the Edge." It's quite a good...Commissioner Gordon episode.

    I'm a fan of the new Super Hero Girls shorts by Faust. Doesn't mean I think they wouldn't be improved with Steph instead of Babs.
    "We're the same thing, you and I. We're both lies that eventually became the truth." Lara Notsil, Star Wars: X-Wing: Solo Command, by Aaron Allston
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    "There's room in our line of work for hope, too." Stephanie Brown, Batgirl, by Bryan Q. Miller
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  2. #152
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atomicbattery View Post
    She noted the meager number of cover appearances for Barbara on the Birds of Prey book, even though Barb was the leader of the team. I think there was some speculation about the lack of respect or interest in depicting a person with a disability, but I would posit that it is simply difficult for an artist to come up with vibrant and graphically exciting depictions of a person sitting in a chair staring at a computer screen.
    Then don't depict her staring at a computer screen. And while Babs was less shown on the Birds of Prey covers, she did appear from time to time in dynamic or interesting covers. Now, not all artists were prepared or comfortable with drawing Babs in such situations, but then that's the job of editorial to pick and coach the artists, and the writers to write interesting scripts where Babs gets things to do. What you view as a flaw in the character, I view as a lack of imagination and discipline in the creative team (writers, artists, editors).

    I don't view Babs as a computer person anyway. She's an organiser, leader, and information broker. Computers are her tools, not what she does.

  3. #153
    Astonishing Member Badou's Avatar
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    Right now as Batgirl Babs is as big of a character as she has ever been. Headlining two animated shows, has a live action movie in the works, getting tons of merch made of her, and that is all on top of her solo series which she never had before becoming Batgirl again. She is in such a good place right now but there are people who are still so fixated on wanting her to be paralyzed and chained to a chair. It is sad to me.

    I mean I get it if you like Steph or Cass more as Batigrl because just like Barbara Batgirl for them would offer them tons more opportunities, but outside that I don't really see what Oracle offers the character anymore.

  4. #154
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Badou View Post
    Right now as Batgirl Babs is as big of a character as she has ever been. Headlining two animated shows, has a live action movie in the works, getting tons of merch made of her, and that is all on top of her solo series which she never had before becoming Batgirl again. She is in such a good place right now but there are people who are still so fixated on wanting her to be paralyzed and chained to a chair. It is sad to me.
    I think your word choice shows some rather ableist assumptions.

    And you are correct in that Babs-as-Batgirl has a ton of visibility right now. But I'm concerned about the integrity of the character, because the return of Babs as Batgirl started a trend of infantilising her and erasing her experiences. Or if her experience is acknowledged, it is often only as trauma (as in the recent Heroes in Crisis booth session with her). Writers like Simone or Scott to their credit try to acknowledge and give her credit for her past and her experience, but the girl moniker works against it, and it doesn't feel like editorial cares for those past experiences either.

    And to continue, while Oracle might be "chained to a chair", Batgirl is chained to Gotham and the Bat franchise. Oracle's scope was the world.

  5. #155
    Astonishing Member Badou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    I think your word choice shows some rather ableist assumptions.

    And you are correct in that Babs-as-Batgirl has a ton of visibility right now. But I'm concerned about the integrity of the character, because the return of Babs as Batgirl started a trend of infantilising her and erasing her experiences. Or if her experience is acknowledged, it is often only as trauma (as in the recent Heroes in Crisis booth session with her). Writers like Simone or Scott to their credit try to acknowledge and give her credit for her past and her experience, but the girl moniker works against it, and it doesn't feel like editorial cares for those past experiences either.

    And to continue, while Oracle might be "chained to a chair", Batgirl is chained to Gotham and the Bat franchise. Oracle's scope was the world.
    Oracle's scope is a supporting character in someone else's solo or a team book. That is the extent of her character and it had long reached the peak of what the character could do. The BoP series was long past its prime. She wasn't growing or progressing anymore. The entire concept had grown stagnant and writers were constantly looking for reasons to keep her in the chair. She was chained to it. Realistically she should have been looking for every possible way to walk again, especially with heroes coming back from worse all the time. Anyone would look for a cure if they lost the use of their legs, but she became less of a character after the concept ran its course and became more of a symbol. Her and the chair became symbols that the character of Oracle could no longer get away from, same with The Killing Joke, and it overshadowed any real progress the character could do. I wish DC would retcon the whole lot of it away so her character could move on from it finally.

    Also I think complaining about "infantilising" her is very subjective. She was deaged over a decade. She was written how you would write a 21 year old hero who is going to college and not some former hero who is in her 30s. That was a conscious decision to write her for a younger audience and I think it was for the best as we've seen how the character has grown and expanded her influence in doing so.

    And it isn't like it is just her character that DC ignores past experiences. In the grand scheme of things her character got off pretty well. Nearly every character in the reboot was written different and lost TONS of experience but for some reason it is only a big sticking point with Brabara's character.

  6. #156
    Astonishing Member dancj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atomicbattery View Post
    A deadly assassin, the mute daughter of two second-tier DC villains.
    Lady Shiva is not second tier. She's LADY F***ING SHIVA!

  7. #157
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    Quote Originally Posted by dancj View Post
    Lady Shiva is not second tier. She's LADY F***ING SHIVA!
    Even Cain can be a big deal, if done properly.

    But I agree, Shiva's a monster in herself, someone even low-level metas should be very, very, afraid to deal with.

  8. #158
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    Quote Originally Posted by dancj View Post
    Lady Shiva is not second tier. She's LADY F***ING SHIVA!
    Yep, every editor knows- put Lady Shiva on the cover of your book, and get ready to go back to the printer for multiple printings

  9. #159
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    Quote Originally Posted by millernumber1 View Post
    I have watched "Over the Edge." It's quite a good...Commissioner Gordon episode.

    I'm a fan of the new Super Hero Girls shorts by Faust. Doesn't mean I think they wouldn't be improved with Steph instead of Babs.
    I think you’re having fun here, but just in case- you do realize that, other than the brief flashback to the fight with Scarecrow, and the final scene, all of ‘Over the Edge’ takes place inside of Barbara’s head. The episode is about her greatest fear- her thrill and joy at being Batgirl, but the possibility that the discovery of that secret could destroy the bonds of people she loves. I guess you could say that the episode is about both Barbara and Jim, because the final reveal is that Jim knows that Barbara is Batgirl, and he’s enormously proud of her. But reading it as a Commissioner Gordon episode? Not unless one is being willfully obstinate, simply hates Barbara as Batgirl, or was just completely confused about what was going on.

    It’s obvious that DC Super Hero Girls is going to use Barbara as a point of entry for young viewers. Barb- like them- doesn’t have superpowers, and gets to be amazed by her super new friends. She also has to sneak out of the house to be Batgirl, avoiding the notice of her parent. I guess you could do that with Stephanie, because Steph’s mom would have just as much meaning and resonance with the audience as Commissioner Gordon. Uh huh.

    I like your Stephanie quote- “There’s room in our line of work for hope, too.”
    In the very first television appearance of Batgirl in 1967, Batgirl saves Batman and Robin from Penguin and his henchmen. Batman thanks Batgirl, and Batgirl responds that she was “happy to join in the fun”. Batman scolds that fighting criminals like the Penguin is very serious business. Batgirl tells Batman that “Crimefighting is a serious matter to me, too, Batman. But we might as well have some fun”. The tone of the first Batgirl comics appearances, and particularly the syndicated newspaper strip, is one of Batgirl’s joy, and Batman’s concern and disapproval. Kinda like Dick with Steph. I loved the Miller Steph Batgirl. But it’s funny when posters here say that the current ‘infantilized’ Barbara Batgirl is an imitation of the Steph Batgirl. In tone and spirit, the Bryan Miller Batgirl was a modern comic writing interpretation of Barbara Batgirl1.0.

  10. #160
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    Quote Originally Posted by Badou View Post
    Right now as Batgirl Babs is as big of a character as she has ever been. Headlining two animated shows, has a live action movie in the works, getting tons of merch made of her, and that is all on top of her solo series which she never had before becoming Batgirl again. She is in such a good place right now but there are people who are still so fixated on wanting her to be paralyzed and chained to a chair. It is sad to me.

    I mean I get it if you like Steph or Cass more as Batigrl because just like Barbara Batgirl for them would offer them tons more opportunities, but outside that I don't really see what Oracle offers the character anymore.
    Given that she is "headlining" one of said shows as Oracle, I'm sure that's a viable argument. I'd also point out the Birds of Prey basically started out as Duo book (similar to early Detective Comics and Batman for the Dynamic Duo.

    I think a lot of the dislike of the Oracle back to Batgirl thing was less about that itseld and more the fact that they dropped several popular supporting characters at the same time most notably Cass Cain (one of the few prominent WOC in comics) and Steph who had a very popular solo series cancelled which was doing basically the same plot they ended up doing at 'Burnside' so it felt like a possibly racist, somewhat ableist and certainly regressive step.

    Quote Originally Posted by Badou View Post
    Oracle's scope is a supporting character in someone else's solo or a team book.
    Alfred Pennyworth would like to say 'hi'.

    Supporting character since 1942 and still a fan favourite in the role.
    Last edited by Shamrock Holmes; 01-30-2019 at 08:45 AM. Reason: Adding additional response

  11. #161
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    Quote Originally Posted by atomicbattery View Post
    I read every issue of Birds, and I don’t remember those stories.

    I ask you to imagine that you are an editor at DC, in a world where there has never been a Batgirl.
    After a corporate dictate, you charge three writers with the task of coming up with a biography for the new character ‘Batgirl’.
    They return with-
    A deadly assassin, the mute daughter of two second-tier DC villains.
    The daughter of a third-tier DC villain, who dons a superhero costume to stop her dad.
    The daughter of Police Commissioner Jim Gordon, Batman’s greatest civilian ally.

    Which one would you pick? Which would any editor pick? For audience shorthand alone. But the possibilities are so rich for powerful storytelling with Barbara that simply aren’t there with Cass and Steph. And the dynamic doesn’t work nearly as well with Barbara as Oracle. The dramatic tension leaks.
    I’ll admit that the comics haven’t done much with these key relationships- Barbara and her father, Barbara and the Batfamily- since New52 or Rebirth (a lot of that has to do with a business decision- Batgirl was supposed to be the flagship title of the failed digital-first initiative, and thus autonomy, Burnside and separation from the rest of the Batbooks). There was some good stuff in the Fletcher-Stewart-Tarr Family Business arc, and Scott is getting to do some stuff now.

    Maybe you need to go outside the books to broaden what you consider a Barbara Gordon Batgirl story. If you haven’t, as you said, watched the animated series, there’s one episode that shows all the power and emotion that Barbara brings as Batgirl that no other character can, and that no longer works as Oracle. It’s by Paul Dini, and it’s called ‘Over the Edge’ Batgirl is actually barely in it, but it’s all about her- how much being Batgirl means to her, but also her fear that the discovery could destroy her world. Dini got choked up talking about it in an interview with Kevin Smith on the old Fatman on Batman podcast, and I think it’s the most emotionally powerful episode of the series.

    There’s a reason writers outside of comics keep returning to Barbara as Batgirl. It’s about her, and her dad, and Batman. I have always supported the Batgirl concept and bought every Cass and Steph book, but there’s so much more material to mine with Barbara.
    And it’s about to happen again. Lauren Faust’s incarnation of DC Super Hero Girls comes to Cartoon Network this year. And another generation of kids gets to meet Barbara Gordon as Batgirl.
    Cassandra Cain was the first Batgirl to have her own solo comic series, proving that the Batgirl name could even sell. Babs' solo has been relaunched at least twice to find a hook that grabs audiences while Cass' solo series lasted 70+ issues and only got cancelled because of petty office politics. Oh and apparently her story is rich enough to put her in a live action movie that is currently in the middle of filming while a lead hasn't even been cast for Babs' movie.

    So yeah, I'd say that Babs' story isn't richer than Cass'. Hell, you say writers apparently haven't done enough with what Babs' has but the argument could also be made that maybe Babs' story and relationships as Batgirl aren't as interesting as you think.

  12. #162
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Badou View Post
    Oracle's scope is a supporting character in someone else's solo or a team book.
    She was the co-lead for Birds of Prey, until the team was made too large.

    And yes, Oracle goes against the grain in how superheroes are supposed to look and act. I view that as a good thing. Keeps writers and editors on their toes, and helps them improve and forces them to think outside the box.

    As for being chained to the chair, they could have "fixed" Babs and still kept her in her role as Oracle. It would have caused other meta-narrative issues, but it could have been done. But more than that, I'm reminded of a friend of mine who says that if she can choose between hobbling around on crutches or zipping around in a wheelchair, she chooses the wheelchair every day of the week.

    Now, if DC had decided to give her her legs back and keep her in her role as Oracle, I'd probably been fine with it, though it would have brought with it a new set of meta-narrative issues, just a different set than keeping her in the wheelchair or making her back to Batgirl.

    Quote Originally Posted by Badou View Post
    Also I think complaining about "infantilising" her is very subjective. She was deaged over a decade. She was written how you would write a 21 year old hero who is going to college and not some former hero who is in her 30s. That was a conscious decision to write her for a younger audience and I think it was for the best as we've seen how the character has grown and expanded her influence in doing so.

    And it isn't like it is just her character that DC ignores past experiences. In the grand scheme of things her character got off pretty well. Nearly every character in the reboot was written different and lost TONS of experience but for some reason it is only a big sticking point with Brabara's character.
    I would claim that there is no question that Babs and the Batgirls got off worse, especially once Simone left the title. In the original series, she had a ton of experience, as Batgirl and as Barbara Gordon. ALL of that was removed, except TKJ. A comparison with Dick Grayson and the Robins is instructive.

    Steph and Cass were removed as entirely. Babs had her experience as Oracle erased, and had to go through trauma recovery after TKJ again (I don't blame Simone for that choice, the alternative was worse). Later on even the experiences that Simone had given her were erased in the Burnside Batgirl. That is exactly what I mean by infantilising her. To her credit, Mairghread Scott writes a better Babsgirl.

    All the Robins (except Steph) got to stay as former Robins, their experience as such basically intact. Dick Grayson is demoted from acting Batman, but keeps his role own-created role as Nightwing.

    Basically, the Robins (except Steph) got through New 52 reasonably intact. The Batgirls didn't.

    In a way, I believe that part of why Babs was so ill-treated not only has to do with misogyny (though it certainly does play a part) but also in that Babs as Oracle was an implied critique of the DC practices towards their female characters and of the underlying dogma that Batman's ethics and morals are not to be meaningfully critiqued. And Babs was the living embodiment of that critique.

  13. #163
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    Cassandra Cain was the first Batgirl to have her own solo comic series, proving that the Batgirl name could even sell. Babs' solo has been relaunched at least twice to find a hook that grabs audiences while Cass' solo series lasted 70+ issues and only got cancelled because of petty office politics. Oh and apparently her story is rich enough to put her in a live action movie that is currently in the middle of filming while a lead hasn't even been cast for Babs' movie.

    So yeah, I'd say that Babs' story isn't richer than Cass'. Hell, you say writers apparently haven't done enough with what Babs' has but the argument could also be made that maybe Babs' story and relationships as Batgirl aren't as interesting as you think.
    That's unfair.

    The reason why Barbara Batgirl hadn't a solo was because there wasn't many solos for secondary characters at the time she was Batgirl (Dick Robin hadn't a solo either).

    The fact that there are plans for a solo movie of Barbara Batgirl, while Cassandra only can be a supporting character in Birds of Prey movie is the proof that there are most interest for Barbara Batgirl.
    Last edited by Konja7; 01-30-2019 at 09:12 AM.

  14. #164
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    Cassandra Cain was the first Batgirl to have her own solo comic series, proving that the Batgirl name could even sell. Babs' solo has been relaunched at least twice to find a hook that grabs audiences while Cass' solo series lasted 70+ issues and only got cancelled because of petty office politics. Oh and apparently her story is rich enough to put her in a live action movie that is currently in the middle of filming while a lead hasn't even been cast for Babs' movie.

    So yeah, I'd say that Babs' story isn't richer than Cass'. Hell, you say writers apparently haven't done enough with what Babs' has but the argument could also be made that maybe Babs' story and relationships as Batgirl aren't as interesting as you think.
    Cass technically had two volumes, about a 80 issues including annuals and specials, and was a big part of most of the key Bat Fam and Birds of Prey arcs during her tenure. However, even when her title was cancelled, it was replaced by Stephanie as Batgirl, who managed 24 issues before the line-wide reboot swept all that away in favour of rehashing the failed "Barbara as a teen hero" arc that was abandoned back in the 70s so they could tell other stories about Barbara as her own person - senator, information broker, and mission controller for most of the world's super teams (BTW none of which ever considered offering her membership as Batgirl!).

  15. #165
    I am a diamond, Ms. Pryde millernumber1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    She was the co-lead for Birds of Prey, until the team was made too large.

    And yes, Oracle goes against the grain in how superheroes are supposed to look and act. I view that as a good thing. Keeps writers and editors on their toes, and helps them improve and forces them to think outside the box.

    As for being chained to the chair, they could have "fixed" Babs and still kept her in her role as Oracle. It would have caused other meta-narrative issues, but it could have been done. But more than that, I'm reminded of a friend of mine who says that if she can choose between hobbling around on crutches or zipping around in a wheelchair, she chooses the wheelchair every day of the week.

    Now, if DC had decided to give her her legs back and keep her in her role as Oracle, I'd probably been fine with it, though it would have brought with it a new set of meta-narrative issues, just a different set than keeping her in the wheelchair or making her back to Batgirl.

    I would claim that there is no question that Babs and the Batgirls got off worse, especially once Simone left the title. In the original series, she had a ton of experience, as Batgirl and as Barbara Gordon. ALL of that was removed, except TKJ. A comparison with Dick Grayson and the Robins is instructive.

    Steph and Cass were removed as entirely. Babs had her experience as Oracle erased, and had to go through trauma recovery after TKJ again (I don't blame Simone for that choice, the alternative was worse). Later on even the experiences that Simone had given her were erased in the Burnside Batgirl. That is exactly what I mean by infantilising her. To her credit, Mairghread Scott writes a better Babsgirl.

    All the Robins (except Steph) got to stay as former Robins, their experience as such basically intact. Dick Grayson is demoted from acting Batman, but keeps his role own-created role as Nightwing.

    Basically, the Robins (except Steph) got through New 52 reasonably intact. The Batgirls didn't.

    In a way, I believe that part of why Babs was so ill-treated not only has to do with misogyny (though it certainly does play a part) but also in that Babs as Oracle was an implied critique of the DC practices towards their female characters and of the underlying dogma that Batman's ethics and morals are not to be meaningfully critiqued. And Babs was the living embodiment of that critique.
    Well said. I'd say the problem with Oracle in the later Birds of Prey wasn't even that the team got too large - when she opened the team up, it was during the Spy Smasher arc, which involved Babs in a brutal one on one with the villain in the finale - it was the Tony Bedard just isn't as good a writer as Gail Simone, at least not of Oracle. (I think the same problem probably applies to Sean McKeever's arc, but I like that one a lot better, even if it's nothing new or groundbreaking).

    I'm still not sure what a New 52 that kept Steph and Cass (and Helena Bertinelli and Zinda Blake and Manhunter) would have looked like - but it almost certainly would have been a New 52 which I would have kept reading. Yes, almost all of them have returned - but they were gone for a minimum of three years. I think there is an argument that all of the Robins were "more important" and the fact that the Batgirls all happened to be girls was coincidental - but someone should have thought better of it.

    Also, a million <3 for remembering Steph as Robin.
    "We're the same thing, you and I. We're both lies that eventually became the truth." Lara Notsil, Star Wars: X-Wing: Solo Command, by Aaron Allston
    "All that is not eternal is eternally out of date." C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves
    "There's room in our line of work for hope, too." Stephanie Brown, Batgirl, by Bryan Q. Miller
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