Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Barbara Gordon

Barbara Gordon is a fictional character appearing in comic books published by DC Comics and in related media, created by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino. At the request of the producers of the 1960s Batman television series, DC editor Julius Schwartz called for a new female counterpart to the superhero Batman that could be introduced into publication and the third season of the show simultaneously. The character subsequently made her first comic book appearance as Batgirl in Detective Comics #359 titled, "The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl!" (1967). Written as the daughter of Gotham City police commissioner James Gordon, her civilian identity is given a doctorate in library science and she is employed as head of Gotham City Public Library, as well as later being elected to the United States Congress.

In addition to appearing in other DC publications, she receives her first starring role in Batman Family which debuted in 1975, partnered with the original Robin, Dick Grayson. Following the editorial retirement of her Batgirl persona in Barbara Kesel's Batgirl Special #1, Alan Moore's graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke depicts the Joker shooting her through the spinal cord in her civilian identity, resulting in paraplegia. In subsequent stories, editor Kim Yale and writer John Ostrander establish the character as a computer expert and information broker known as Oracle. Providing intelligence and computer hacking services to assist other superheroes, she makes her first appearance as Oracle in Suicide Squad #23 (1989). She is featured in the one-shot comic Black Canary/Oracle: Birds of Prey (1996) written by Chuck Dixon, which later became the monthly title Birds of Prey starring both characters. The series depicts her as a great intellect uninhibited by her paralysis, skilled in the martial art of eskrima. Employing Black Canary as her partner and field agent, Oracle later operates as the leader of a full team of female crimefighters who engage in global espionage missions, under writer Gail Simone. In 2011, following a company wide relaunch of all DC Comics titles, the character's mobility is restored and she is given a starring role in the eponymous Batgirl monthly comic as part of The New 52.

Barbara Gordon is described as one of the most popular characters to appear during the Silver Age of Comic Books and is also regarded as a pop icon due to her appearances in the Batman television series and continued media exposure. She has achieved similar popularity in the Modern Age of Comic Books under the Birds of Prey publication and as a disability icon. The character has been the subject of academic analysis concerning the roles of women, librarians and people living with disabilities in mainstream media. The events of The Killing Joke, which led to the character's paralysis, as well as the restoration of her mobility, has been a subject of debate among comic book writers, artists, editors and readership. Viewpoints range from sexism in comic books, to the limited visibility of disabled characters and the practicality of disabled characters existing in a fictional universe where magic, technology, and medical science exceed the limitations of the real world. Barbara Gordon, as both Batgirl and Oracle, has been adapted into various media relating to the Batman franchise, including television, film, animation, video games, and other merchandise. In 2011, IGN ranked Barbara Gordon 17th in the Top 100 Comic Books Heroes.She was ranked 17th in Comics Buyer's Guide's "100 Sexiest Women in Comics" list.

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