Kim Yale: Barbara Gordon's True Savior

Posted by OracleX (294 posts) - - Show Bio

I was looking through Barbara Gordon's Wikipedia.org entry for the eightieth time to find more information about her recent character development and noticed an interesting citation for the first time. In The Killing Joke entry, the last sentence piqued my curiosity the most:

Following the release of the graphic novel, comic book editor and writer Kim Yale discussed how distasteful she found the treatment of Barbara Gordon with her husband, fellow comic writer John Ostrander. Rather than allow the character to fall into obscurity, the two decided to revive her as a character living with a disability.

How is it that I have never heard of her? I'm not as "comic-literate" as I like to be, but I thought I knew the core history of Barbara's character. I love Babs and I couldn't believe I had never thought to look up who revived her character. I found out why Yale isn't as well known: She died of cancer breast cancer 1997. There is an award named after her as part of the Friends of Lulu a non-profit charity organization- that was disbanded last year.

Why isn't she given more credit for keeping Barbara Gordon alive in the comics? Because of what she and her husband started, Barbara became the smart and sassy character many of us came to love. The character became an icon to the wheel-chair bound who was not bald and manipulative. I have read a few Batman and superhero history books and there only passing references to development of the character with no names attached.

I really don't mind the fact that Barbara Gordon has become Batgirl again, what I do mind is how Gail Simone has written out a third of her intelligence. Barbara no longer has that mildly cynical edge and seems more wide-eyed and gleeful. I loved Gail's first run on Birds of Prey so much that I can't figure out how she has re-written her to say "yikes" and "oops" in a comical way.

This sounds like an incredible story about a writing team who wouldn't let a female character "go into the fridge". Is there anyone who can tell me more about this remarkable woman?

#1 Posted by The Poet (8337 posts) - - Show Bio

@OracleX: she has a wiki page here. That's what I can tell you:

Kim Yale

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#2 Posted by Ravager4 (1627 posts) - - Show Bio

@OracleX said:

I really don't mind the fact that Barbara Gordon has become Batgirl again, what I do mind is how Gail Simone has written out a third of her intelligence. Barbara no longer has that mildly cynical edge and seems more wide-eyed and gleeful. I loved Gail's first run on Birds of Prey so much that I can't figure out how she has re-written her to say "yikes" and "oops" in a comical way.

It's because of the whole reboot, de-aging thing that the New 52 did (which was not Gail Simone's decision, obviously. She's doing what she can with what she's got, and in my opinion it's been great so far). Barbara isn't that older, evolved character yet, she's still at an earlier point in her life. That's how her journey, so to speak, ends, and right now we're following her through the earlier stages of it. Gail Simone herself explains (via tumblr):

The thing is, I am enjoying writing a younger, less perfect Barbara because I think she and Oracle are the same character at different points in their lives. I love the stories of characters like Sherlock Holmes and Tarzan and Conan and the Star Trek crew BEFORE they became undefeatable because it sheds interesting light on their characters. I also love the stories with them in full command of their abilities. It’s like telling a legend at different points in the timeline, I do really enjoy that. If you’re at the beginning of the story and only want to see the end, that probably is frustrating, but I really, really enjoy the journey. I know Oracle is still inside Barbara, in the stories we’re telling, she just hasn’t come out yet.

...

“I want Oracle back,” is a perfectly understandable sentiment and a perfect reason not to read or to like the current Batgirl book. “I miss Clark and Lois being married,” is a perfect reason not to read or like the current Superman stuff. And so on, and so on. Every time there is a major continuity shift, some people don’t care for it and don’t jump aboard and I don’t blame them at all for that.

But it does seem a little weird to keep saying, “This isn’t Oracle,” when that is so clearly the point. This is a very young woman who has had an horrific trauma and is just getting her wings back. Not everyone wants to read that, but a lot of people do, more people than read Birds of Prey or the previous Batgirl.

I could have kept writing Oracle forever, kept writing Bop forever. I loved it. But I also love writing Barbara when she HADN’T yet become the conquering all-force of the internet. I like both. That moment with the freezing in front of the gun is important. Saying she hasn’t evolved when it’s literally her second night back in the cape does seem a little odd.

#3 Posted by X9 (757 posts) - - Show Bio

Oh, this again?

Well, I like the work Gail is doing (it's a deep Barbara that we get to see, different from the rest of the Bat Family and yet very close to them) and, honestly, Oracle is past. As Gail herself kinda said, Barbara is gonna grow as a character to become as wise and sagacious as she was as Oracle. But far away from that stupid wheelchair, PLEASE!

Anyway, I agree with

#4 Posted by Madame_Mist (1325 posts) - - Show Bio

I may miss Oracle, but I'm just glad Babs is in the hands of Gail.

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