As you probably already know, DC Comics will be releasing 52 new ongoing titles over the course of September which will both reintroduce new interpretations of some of DC's classic characters, and introduce new ones to fans. Of all the major changes brought on by "the new 52" one of the most controversial to any character were the changes made to Barbara Gordon.
Not only would Barbara Gordon be returning to the role of Batgirl, but she would be out of the wheelchair and walking on her own once again -- something she hadn't been able to do for over 20 years. For a long time fans had anticipated this change to her character, so the decision to have her walk again may not have been altogether surprising to fans, but that didn't make it any less controversial. Yet, this isn't the only thing to have altered Babs' character with the launch of the "new DC Universe." Therefore we've identified what we believe to be the five major changes to Barbara's character (so far) based on the first issue of Batgirl and listed them below.== TEASER ==
Barbara Gordon post Alan Moore's 'The Killing Joke' spent over 20 "comic years" confined to a wheelchair as a result of being shot point blank through the base of her spine by the Joker. Of all the changes made to Barbara's character with the revamp of the DC Universe, giving Babs the ability to walk again is not only the most obvious, it's also the most controversial of changes. For comic fans with disabilities, Barbara Gordon became a symbol of hope -- something greater than herself. Not only did the traumatizing event (The Killing Joke) put Barbara Gordon in a wheelchair, it was also a potentially damaging event that could have prevented her from continuing to pursue crime-fighting. However, rather than allowing the event to control her destiny, Barbara took matters into her own hands and became one of the most important members of the Bat-family. Barbara did not allow the event to control her life and she continued to pursue her dreams. She was an inspirational character whilst in the wheelchair, and grew to be more interesting as a result of the accident. Taking her out of the wheelchair is almost like disregarding a huge portion of the events that molded her into becoming an interesting character.
The New 'Batgirl', but what about 'Oracle'?
Yeah, what about 'Oracle'? For over twenty years Barbara Gordon had evolved into a driving force in the 'Batman' family. Barbara trained both Batgirl's that followed in her footsteps (Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown). She taught Cassie how to speak and Steph how to be a proper crime-fighter. Knowing she was unable to fight crime on her own, Barbara started the 'Birds of Prey,' bringing some of DC's biggest female crime-fighters together and onto one team, leading them from the comfort of the Gotham Clocktower. Oracle was also, at one time, a member of the Justice League, doing a lot of the investigative work for the team. In the first issue of 'Batgirl,' it is unclear whether or not the years that Barbara spent as Oracle helping the Justice League and organizing the 'Birds of Prey' is still a part of her continuity. Following 'The Killing Joke' did Barbara simply "get better" in three years? Will any of the things she accomplished as Oracle transfer over into the new 52, or did they just not ever happen? So much of what makes Barbara Gordon an interesting character happened during her time as Oracle -- Barbara became Oracle and overcame so many of her challenges, and if those aspects of her character are erased from her continuity then that would be immensely disappointing. Not only would it be disappointing to her character, but it would be a disappointment to all of her fans that looked up to her character as someone who overcame adversity and persevered.
New Rogue's gallery
One of the more exciting developments to come out of Batgirl #1 is what apparently will be Barbara Gordon's very own rogues gallery. Even though Babs had been an influential and important member of both the Justice League and the Birds of Prey, she never had any adversaries of her very own. Sure, Babs had the Calculator, (a general DC villain) who eventually became her greatest adversary; but she never had a rogues gallery of her own. In the first issue of Batgirl #1 fans are introduced to 'The Mirror,' a villain who will be targeting Barbara in the next upcoming books.
Barbara Gordon has not only left her Oracle identity behind her, but she has left her old Batgirl costume behind her as well. In its place Barbara has adopted an all new, seemingly high tech costume and her very own bat-cycle in the new series. The only remnant of Stephanie Brown's Batgirl costume adopted by Barbara is the purple cape.
It will be interesting to see whether or not more changes will be made to Barbara Gordon's character in the upcoming issues of Batgirl by Gail Simone; but so far, the changes have been pretty big. What did you think of the first issue of 'Batgirl,' and are you looking forward to reading more? Do you think these changes made to her character are for the best or do you wish some things would go back to the way they were? The second issue of 'Batgirl' hits stores on October 12th, 2011.