I wanted to wait a little bit before I dug into BATGIRL #0 in case anyone still hadn't read it, but I figured that a week was long enough. The release of BATGIRL #0 was pretty significant for any Batgirl fan, and one that many readers were anxiously anticipating. Like many of you, I had a lot of questions about Barbara's identity and about who she was before she became Batgirl after reading BATGIRL #1 nearly a year ago. Needless to say, this issue certainly clarified just how much of the Barbara Gordon I grew up with has changed.
Barbara Gordon Was Never Oracle?
BATGIRL: YEAR ONE was a comic I read that led me to all in love with Barbara Gordon's character. I thought she was incredible as Batgirl. However, it was only after reading Barbara's appearances as Oracle that I realized her full potential as a character. Here Barbara was able to be this incredible smart, tech-savvy information broker. She wasn't just another cape, she was more important than that. She became vital to the Justice League and to Batman, making herself indispensable. Not only that, but Barbara was also given the opportunity to evolve as a character. She still fought crime when she had to -- she didn't let the wheelchair dictate what she could and could not do. She formed her own team of heroines and became this truly iconic character. Issue #0 of BATGIRL opens four years ago and depicts the very first time that Barbara wore a Bat costume and fought crime. The issue speeds through a full year, implying that she fought alongside Batman and Robin until the day she opened the door of her home to find the Joker. The panel is one that any comic fan would recognize, and is one of the defining moments in THE KILLING JOKE. It would be three years before Barbara would recover and become Batgirl again. So, what happened in these three years? Sure, there's a chance that Barbara was Oracle for three years, but that isn't very likely. Even if she were, would that be enough time to tell the story of the Birds of Prey? Probably not. This might mean that some of my favorite Barbara Gordon stories, and the Babs I grew up with, doesn't really exist in the DC universe. At least not anymore.== TEASER ==
Barbara Doesn't make her suit, she finds it
Barbara Gordon's first appeared in DETECTIVE #359. Initially, the character never had any intention of donning a superhero costume and going out and fighting crime. The opportunity just sort of presented itself to her, and given the chance to save a life, she did so. She did it accidentally, and she felt this sort of thrill after having done so that really stuck with her. Later, in BATGIRL: YEAR ONE, Barbara's origin sort of changed a little bit. In the first issue of Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty's mini-series, Barbara donned a costume fully intending to fight crime.
After "not meeting the height requirement" to be a police officer, Babs went straight to the Justice Society looking for tutelage. Thus, she embarked on her path towards becoming a super heroine. In BATGIRL #0, however, that sort of changes. I don't believe it was Gail Simone's intention to write Batgirl as a super heroine off the bat. It just so happened that Babs wound up at the right place at the wrong time but was fortunate enough to have a costume already made for her. While wandering through the Gotham Police Department, Barbara notices the replica Bat suit and puts it on after she is threatened by Harry X. The two characters then proceed to fight each other hand-to-hand, and Barbara wins. The scene that follows Barbara's fight with Harry X reveals another change made to the character.
Batgirl and Robin sitting in a…No, wait, never mind
One of the things I always loved about BATGIRL: YEAR ONE was the cat and mouse chase and the chemistry between Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon. To me, theirs is a sweet romance and truly epitomizes adolescent crushes. So, did their romance ever happen? There have been hints so far that Dick was Barbara's "first crush," but so much has happened between that beyond that. I mean, they almost got engaged!
Batman thinks Batgirl is A-OKAY
One of the things I really enjoyed about BATGIRL: YEAR ONE is that Batman never initially agreed on Batgirl being a good idea, even after Barbara saves Bruce Wayne's life. He never really tells her she is doing a "good job," because that's not really something Bruce Wayne does. To Batman, Batgirl hasn't "proven" that she should be allowed to wear the Bat symbol. It's a dynamic that launches the mini-series and continues throughout up until the very end of the 9th issue, and it makes a lot of sense.
Most of the relationships between Batman and, say, any one of the Robins, has been contentious because he's not one to commend their good work very often. More than likely you will witness Batman scolding his peers on not doing something correctly, than commending him or her on their efforts. Barbara doesn't have Batman's permission to be Batgirl, and this is a big obstacle for her in BATGIRL: YEAR ONE. It's also what gives her drive. She wants to prove him wrong not only for him, but for herself as well. It's a collection of moments in comics that make a lot of sense. Batman doesn't trust easily; he's wary of anyone who tries to get close to him. He is secretive and he lurks in the shadows; so for him to give Babs the OK after one fight in issue #0 of BATGIRL; well, that felt a little bit out of character. Looking at the issue, Barbara didn't have to work very hard to earn the acceptance of Batman.
So there you have it! The New 52 definitely changed a lot of things about a lot of characters in the DC Universe; Barbara Gordon included. What other changes did you find in the series? Which changes do you think have benefitted the character? Which do you dislike?