Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O: Oracle!



is for Oracle.

I'm sure most of us have heard of Barbara Gordon. Daughter to police commissioner Jim Gordon and, secretly, the 'Domino Daredoll', Batgirl.

Right? 

She's been around since the 1960s and was created by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino at the request of the Batman television show's producer. They wanted a female counterpart to Batman that could debut in the comics and the t.v. show at the same time.

Well, did you know that D.C. Comics later took this character and totally revamped her?

It happened back in 1988 when Barbara retired her 'Batgirl' identity to live the 'normal life'. 

Yeah, like that ever happens. 

Carrying out a vendetta against his arch foe, Batman, The Joker shoots Barbara and severs her spine. She becomes a paraplegic and is confined to a wheelchair.



Always touted as one of the most intelligent characters in the D.C. Universe, Barbara takes on the persona of "Oracle", becoming a top notch computer hacker, information broker, and team coordinator for many of D.C.'s heroes and teams. 

Making her debut as Oracle in Suicide Squad #23, she offered her services (anonymously) to the government agency, Task Force X. This laid the foundation for the mysterious "Oracle" to pop up in different books and offer information to whoever needed it and, always, on the side of the angels. 

In Suicide Squad #38, she was revealed as the former Batgirl and asked to join. Later, she became a mainstay in the all female Birds of Prey series, elevated to new heights by writer Gail Simone.

In a 'good news/bad news' turn, D.C.decided (via their latest universe 'reboot') to bring Barbara back to her former Batgirl glory, taking 'experimental' therapies to regain her mobility. That's good for old school Batgirl fans but, over the years, Oracle became a character that many disabled fans could identify with, as well.



As far as powers went, Barbara didn't have any but, in her prime, she was an Olympic level athlete, had martial arts training, a photographic memory and a deep knowledge of computers and information systems. As Batgirl, she also carried various gadgets just as her male counterpart, Batman, did.

As a personal note, Batgirl Barbara Gordon has always been one of my favorite female characters in the D.C. Universe.....regardless whether she wore a cape or was confined to a wheelchair. 

Stop back tomorrow for a visitor from the Great White North, eh?....



46 comments:

Carrie Butler said...

You know what surprised me? How much Oracle contributed to the player experience in DC Universe Online.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

This is some awesome stuff. Just goes to show whether fighting at batman's side or from a wheelchair, Barbara Gordon rocks.

LD Masterson said...

I don't really remember Barbara but I think it's a shame they took her back out of the wheelchair. We need some heroes with disabilities.

Juliet Bond said...

Interesting! I feel like I've never connected to comics because the female characters are what Gina Davis calls "The Fighting F*#! Toy. It doesn't look like Barbara is totally out of the woods on that one but she at least has a professional side and I see where DC tried to push the acceptance of disability. Thanks for teaching me something new!

John Wiswell said...

She turned into an amazing character. I was never as high on The Killing Joke, but writers took that tragedy to make her something novel in their universe. I hear Simone has done well with the reboot, too, but I just haven't had the desire to read continuity thrown out the window.

John at The Bathroom Monologues

Manzanita said...

Mark
I think I'd like this one a lot. I lean toward female heroins. Does that mean I'm a closet feminist? Because I'm not at all in real life.

Carol Kilgore said...

Love female superheroes!

Elise Fallson said...

This is an awesome character, hope they don't mess that up by making her able to walk again.

Julie Flanders said...

This is really interesting. I think it's awesome they had a disabled superhero, and a female one at that. From reading your posts I get the impression the comic book world was more diverse and inclusive long before the rest of the entertainment industry caught up.

Jack said...

I didn't know Gordan had a daughter!! Nor that she was the Batgirl! Her story is much cooler then I used to think it was.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I had no clue that Barbara Gordon was Batgirl. I am totally going to look smart to the hubs tonight.

~Sia McKye~ said...

I always liked the fact that she was pretty and so smart. I thought Oracle was a perfect name for her. She ran circles around the heroes and villains.

Great white north,huh? Got a jelly donut too?

Tyrean Martinson said...

Oracle is awesome! I wish I had known about her before! I love that she kept going after being confined to a wheelchair. I think we need to see heroes like that.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Great idea to have a heroine who was physically challenged cut still integral to the teams' success.

Julie Luek said...

Wow-- had no idea-- I don't read comics or know anything about them at all. It's been fun to stop by and learn about these interesting characters. As a former director of disability services at a college, I think she's a great inclusion.

Amanda - The Southern UnBelle said...

I had no idea there were so many different characters. The Big Bang Theory sparked a small interest in comics, though not enough to actually get into it. Reading your blog makes me want to get into comics!

Suze said...

Mark, goodness, how much do I love this post!?

I read every word with avid eyes. It's inspiring me as a 'creator of characters.' I will say that the second image of Barbara/Batgirl I *vastly* prefer to the other two. Any way of finding out who the artist was?

Melanie Schulz said...

I am showing my ignorance in that I had no idea that bat girl was in any way shape or form related to Gordon. And then to hear the rest of the story...fascinating. I'm really enjoying these.

Mark Means said...

@Carrie: That's very cool...I never got a chance to play much of that. Glad to hear Oracle got some 'face time', though!

@Sheena: Very true. There was a stretch, as well, where Batman was in a (souped up) wheelchair and did some crimefighting...maybe taking some inspiration from Barbara?

@LD: I agree...it's nice for disabled people to have someone they can look up to in the comics.

@Juliet: Glad you enjoyed :) I don't think I've ever heard that term before...off to Google I go! :)

@John: I thought 'The Killing Joke' was interesting and, I agree with you, I haven't had much of a desire to try (yet another) version of D.C.'s "continuity".

@Manzanita: Closet feminist? Nah...just shows you have great taste in comic book heroes..regardless of gender :)

@Carol: They have some great ones!

@Elise: I think that's the direction they're headed, unfortunately. I agree with you.

@Julie: You're right, actually...comics have always tried to include all different types of heroes.

@Jack: Yep, she has a pretty cool backstory and I was only skimming the surface :)

@Elizabeth: LOL...I'm sure he's going to be impressed :)

@Sia: Agreed...a very fitting name. No donuts...but, maybe, a cookie or two :)

@Tyrean: Very true...not much could keep her down and I like the spirit that showed to the readers.

@Susan: Totally agree!

@Julie: Thank you and I'm glad the posts are interesting to even those who don't read comics :)

@Amanda: Thank you very much :) Comics are pretty 'new reader' friendly, these days.

@Suze: Thank you! I did some checking and the artist is Barry Kitson http://barrykitson.com/index.php

@Melanie: That's o.k, some hobbies just don't pop up on other people's radar. Now, if someone were to mention the intricacies of needlepoint to me, I'd just have to nod my head and smile :)

Robin said...

Since I did watch the TV show Birds of Prey, I was FINALLY "in the know" on something. I actually knew what you were talking about all the way through on this one even though I didn't read the comics. You did fill in the comic book blanks with her Task Force Work, but the rest... I already knew it. Woo Hoo!

Robin said...

Well, I didn't know that they brought her back to her former Batgirl glory. So, that was another piece I was missing...

S.P. Bowers said...

Love the idea of a handicapped superhero. Also the idea of someone moving on to another phase of their life. It happens to all of us. We change and grow and our lives and abilities as well. It's nice to see that happening here too.

And seriously, are they all red heads in comics?

Dani said...

Ms. Gordon rocks for sure! Anyone can be a bad@$$!

Scribbles From Jenn said...

I remember Batgirl, but not Oracle. She's a great reminder that if things dont' go as planned, reinvent yourself. AWESOME!

C. Lee McKenzie said...

Now you see, I didn't know Bat Girl became paralyzed. I must have stopped reading about the time of that transformation. But what a great way to extend and deepen a character.

Can't wait to see what you have in store for us tomorrow.

mshatch said...

I remember the original tv show (yep, now you know just how very old I am) and watched it religiously. But I don't recall Batgirl, just Robin. I do think they should've kept Barbara as Oracle like you said.

Nick Wilford said...

I'd heard of Batgirl, but didn't realise she'd become incapacitated. She seems pretty kickass in whatever incarnation!

Samantha May said...

She sounds awesome! I knew there was, at one point, a Batgirl. I just didn't know anything about her.

I think they should keep her in a wheelchair. Unconventional super heroes are the most inspiring :)

Melissa Bradley said...

She was one of my favorite characters no matter her form. I agree that disabled fans identify with her and to take that away is just sad. She is a complete badass in my book. Awesome post!

Melissa Bradley said...

I'm catching up on my commenting and I want to thank you for for following and being a supporter of the Imaginarium. It means a lot to me.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

They shouldn't change her then.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'd stopped reading them before that point so I never knew she became the Oracle.

Michael Di Gesu said...

I had no idea about Barbara and her becoming the Oracle ...

Great to have a handicapped person as a superhero!

I never realized how complicated and COOL classic comics are!

The Golden Eagle said...

She sounds like an awesome character!

Christine Rains said...

I know Oracle. Barbara Gordon is one of the great female characters in comic universe.

Nancy LaRonda Johnson said...

Okay, I didn't know all about the history of bat girl and Jim Gordon. Great info as usual. Writer’s Mark

kmckendry said...

I hadn't heard about her.

Shell Flower said...

Wow, I had no idea. What a cool character. Makes me think twice about the Oracle in The Matrix.

Valerie said...

I was always a big fan of Oracle! Mostly because of her super duper hacker skills!

Hugs!

Valerie Nunez and the Flying Platypi

Morgan Katz said...

SOunds awesome!

morgankatz505.blogspot.com

Rebecca Green Gasper said...

I did not know about Oracle. But what an incredibly cool character. I really love her.

Suze said...

Barry Kitson -- excellent, thank you!

Dana Martin said...

Sorry for my absence... I missed your writing! This one was really great, too. I love that she is in a wheelchair.

Thanks for continuing to stop by my blog even when I'm barely getting my posts out by 10:30pm PST.

This challenge is killing me.. but I love the new friends and great writers I am meeting. :)

Dana at Waiter, drink please!

Mark Means said...

@Robin: I used to like BoP too, even though it deviated -a lot- from the source material. See? you know more than you thought :)

@S.P: I agree...I know of a couple of wheelchair bound heroes, but most have psychological handicaps as opposed to physical ones. Heh, I've never heard that there were too many red heads before...blondes...yes :)

@Dani: Totally agree!

@Jenn: Very true...anything can be an opportunity.

@Lee: It certainly added another layer to the character, for sure :)

@mshatch: Hey, don't feel bad...I remember that show too. I used to love it! :)

@Nick: Yep, I'd hate to be on her bad side...wheelchair, or no :)

@Samantha: I totally agree!

@Melissa: It's my pleasure and I really enjoy what you're doing over there. Thank you for the same there :)

@Diane: I agree!

@Alex: I think it's only been pretty recently that she's been given a bigger spotlight.

@Michael: Oh yeah...while I would never call them 'high literature', many were pretty in-depth.

@Golden Eagle: She was, indeed :)

@Christine: Yep, a long history and a very cool character.

@Nancy: Thank you!

@Kathryn: Now, you can say you have :)

@Shell: This Oracle is, definitely, cooler :)

@Valerie: She's one of the best!

@Morgan: A great one, for sure!

@Rebecca: Glad you like her and she's definitely one of their best female leads.

@Suze: You're welcome :)

@Dana: Thank you and no worries...I think we're all stretched a bit thin this month :) I enjoy your blog so, you keep writing and I'll keep stopping by :)

Lisa said...

I stopped reading her when she was Batgirl so really appreciate the background on who she became. I love it that she was a "brain" like Prof X, and in a wheel chair. Thanks, this was awesome!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mark .. I think I really like Oracle and like the fact she was able to operate in a wheelchair - more effectively almost .. I can relate - though I'm healthy .. interesting background story .. cheers Hilary

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