Batgirl walking again is a tragedy

8 06 2011

Aug 31stwill begin DC’s universe wide revamp. Like a politician running for office, DC’s editors are shooting Botox into all their heroes to give them a younger and more “relatable” look in order to appeal to a younger audience. Some, like Mr. Terrific, are going to be

Apparently the offices at DC comics don’t have a handicap entrance

redesigned as “eligible bachelors” while others, like Wonder Woman, will get some new clothes. But few will get the revamping that Barbara Gordon, the more famous incarnation of Batgirl, will get. Which is…she’s going to be Batgirl again.

If you’re not a comic book reader, you probably didn’t even know she wasn’t Batgirl anymore. After all, nearly every incarnation of Batman ever has had Batgirl appear. And in nearly every one of those incarnations, Barbara Gordon has been the woman under the mask. When DC said they want to make their comic book line more accessible to new readers, it makes that Batgirl would be a character evaluated. After all, she’s become one of the most iconic comic book characters in history. I owe DC great thanks for the many slutty Batgirl costumes I’ve seen in college.

Barbara’s origin is simple. She’s Commissioner Gordon’s niece who was inspired by bother her father and Batman to fight for justice. DONE.  The ones that came after that? There’s Cassandra Cain, the mute daughter of an assassin hired by Lex Luthor when he was president to kill Bruce Wayne. And there’s also Stephanie Brown, who was previously a vigilante named the spoiler, who is the daughter of the criminal clue master, who is a wanna-be Riddler. Oh, and Betty Kane, niece of the original Batwoman (love interest to Batman) until she was written out of existence and Batwoman was recreated as a lesbian (No longer love interest to Batman).

So why a problem with Barbara becoming Batgirl again? It seems to make sense. It’s because Barbara Gordon’s story and character are both more important that those of nearly any other comic book character’s to date. Her story, in many ways, is bigger and more important than DC comics itself.

In a story that didn’t even involve Barbara in her Batgirl uniform, she was shot, raped, and paralyzed by the Joker. This was a story that forever cemented Joker’s place as one of comic books more horrific villains and showed the world that Commissioner Gordon was more than just the cop who called Batman in for help. Barbara refused to let her disability break her spirit. Rebuilding herself, she assisted Batman’s war on crime in a new way, as an informational hub. While Batman was on the street, it was Barbara, now under the alliance of Oracle, who did much of the leg work. She became a master of computer data, networking, and engineering. If Batman needed the information on a criminal, Barbara would have any question answered in a second. If Batman needed a computer hack, there wasn’t a computer in the world Oracle couldn’t get into.

She rose from one of Batman’s most trusted allies, to a member of the Justice League, to a leader of the DCU, and has even created her own elite team of agents made up of super heroes. Unlike most other comic book characters with handicaps, such as Professor Xavier and Daredevil, Barbara has no super powers.  None the less, her stories and character have been among the most interesting of any comic book character published. The best Barbara Gordon writers know that she often shines brightest during her down time. Barbara still works out, is still an elite martial artist, still goes on dates with handsome men, still goes dancing, drives a car, and gets picked on by friends. Barbara is still a normal person (as normal as people in comic books go).

Remember ladies, nice legs will beat nice brains every time.

DC said another reason they are doing this revamp is to diversify their heroes and line ups. Diversity is more than having more black super heroes. Diversity is a mixer of people with different backgrounds, cultures, experiences, and ages. By removing Barbara Gordon from the role of Oracle, they are shutting the door on an entire segment of fans. While I am still excited about the revamping as a whole, this particular part is a great disappointment to me.


DC Plans to Revamp Entire Line

1 06 2011

Yesterday DC made two of the most controversial and potentially industry changing announcements for the last several decade. The DC universe is going to have a massive revamping. 52 titles (the number of weeks in a year) all number as “issue 1” will begin releasing Aug 31st. The second is that the titles will all be released digitally and in print the same day.

Dan DiDio, DC’s co-publisher said “This was a chance to start, not at the beginning, but at a point where our characters are younger and the stories are being told for today’s audience.” This statement implies an event similar to Crisis on Initiate Earths, where a lot of the more complex origins will be cleaned up, or characters will be rebranded to appeal to a modern audience, something that DC needs.

It’s no secret that it has become harder and harder for new readers to enter into mainstream comics. You have two people called the Flash in one corner, you have Robin cutting off people’s heads in another, and then you have a gorilla in the Justice League. On the other side of the coin, DC has become infamous for their revamps. Infinite Crisis, Zero Hour, and to some extent even Blackest Night have all been stories used to retell origins, deage characters, or explain long standing plot holes. It’s hard to believe that this “revamp” isn’t going to be undone a few years down the line.

So the JLA traded an Alien for a Black guy?

Then, as stated, how far back will these younger variations go? If you look at an image of Jim Lee’s Justice League you’ll notice a few things. Costume changes, younger looks, and new roster. The roster and looks are similar to that used in DCU online. When you look at Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Flash, all of their costumes have changed. Wonder Woman changing the most. But what probably grabs your eye first is the addition of Cyborg along 6 of DC’s icons. Cyborg has been in many forms on DC’s media, and in many of the more popular series. He was in Superfriends, Smallville, and DC online. It makes sense for DC to put Cyborg in a more iconic role, but does what about the younger looking Superman? Are they deaging Superman or aging up Cyborg? And do either’s age really need to change?

This sets up an even bigger character question. What of Robin. Robin in many ways, has been DC’s measuring tool to distinguish the passing of age and eras. Dick Grayson has been the most iconic character to show a true growth in age. As Robin went from being a 12 year old boy wonder to wearing Batman’s Cape and Cowl, you are able to tell the age progression of Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent. After Infinite Crisis a new Robin stood, Jason Todd. When Tim Drake officially became Robin, it wasn’t too long until we saw a new Green Lantern and Green Arrow. The Robins are also recognized not only as the leaders of DC’s second generation of heroes, but are among DC’s more valuable properties.

So if Cyborg is in the JLA, and heroes are deaging, what does this mean for Dick and Tim? Both very popular characters. Both famous for their roles as Robins. Will we see the universe launch at a point where Dick Grayson is Nightwing and Bruce never had a son? And what about the other Green Lanterns? Is this the end of Kyle’s carrier, or will Earth always have had multiple Green Lanterns?

These questions make my head hurt, but all things said and done, we need this revamp. And when I say we, I mean the comic book industry as a whole. Comic books as we know them are not what they once were. You don’t see them sold in grocery stores, you don’t see kids reading them on the school bus. And it’s becoming harder and harder to get new readers invested into comic books. To many new readers, there is far too much catching up that needs to be done in order to enjoy a current storyline. With the recent boom in comic book movies, this is the perfect opportunity to get new readers invested. But no one is going to be able to walk out of the Dark

Suck it Robin!

Knight Rises and walk into a Batman comic book now. You’ve got Dick Grayson as Batman, Damien as Robin, and a whole team of Batmen running around global. Oh, and Bane is riding a T-Rex. Am I angry that my boxes of comic book may now be considered out of canon? Without a doubt! Do feel that I spent money on stories lines that now, may have no value? You bet your welfare check. But I’d much rather still have comic book stay alive, then lose them all together. Besides, DC has a multiverse. If things go badly, they’re just going to say “this was earth 3,” and go back to the stories they left off at.