by Phil Perich for Before the Bat: the Gotham Podcast
Since there has been so much news about the different versions of Barbara Gordon and her story in the last few weeks, I figured she would be a great topic of the week. The character of Barbara Gordon, Batgirl, the daughter of Commissioner James Gordon, first appeared on the 1960’s Batman TV show portrayed by actress Yvonne Craig.
This inspired the comic book writers to introduce Barbara and Batgirl into the comic books. Barbara made her comic debut in Detective Comics #359 (January 1967).
Barbara was a PH.D. andwas the head of the Gotham City Library. She would alternate back up stories with Robin starting in Detective Comics #384 (February 1969) until she got the slot to herself starting in Detective Comics #404. Batgirl would spend the remainder of the 1960’s and 1970’s teaming up with heroes like Superman and the Justice League. Her most frequent partner was Robin (Dick Grayson). She would go into semi-retirement for a time after revealing her identity to her father. She also moved to Washington D.C. and served as a member of the US House of Representatives. During the 1985-1986 Crisis on Infinite Earths miniseries, Barbara performed probably her saddest duty as she gave the eulogy for her best friend Kara Zor-El, Supergirl after her death in issue #7.
Barbara would once again go into retirement, but her career as Batgirl came to a seeming end when she was shot and paralyzed by the Joker during his kidnapping of her father in the 1988 classic Batman: the Killing Joke.
Barbara would return as the cyber hacker known as Oracle. Oracle first appeared in the original Suicide Squad series as Barbara offered her services anonymously to Task Force X. She would go on to be Batman’s number one source of information. Barbara would also team up with Black Canary in the Birds of Prey series. It was also around this time that Barbara and Dick Grayson (NIghtwing) began dating, both having come to terms with the feelings they had denied for years.
Writer Devin Grayson would have the couple eventually get engaged at the end of her Nightwing run, but later writers would break them up. Eventually, Batman would have Barbara run all his behind the scenes operations for Batman Incorporated. Barbara also served as a mentor for the Batgirl of that time, Stephanie Brown.
In 2011, DC Comics rebooted their whole continuity with the New 52. Barbara Gordon returned as a younger, fully healed Batgirl. The current storyline has Barbara as more of a independent street level character as she acts as the defender of the Burnside neighborhood of Gotham as depicted by Brendan Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarr.
Barbara would be portrayed in live action several times such as Alicia Silverstone (Batgirl) in the 1997 movie Batman & Robin and Dina Meyer (Oracle) in the short lived 2002 TV series Birds of Prey. A Barbara Kean was the fiancee of Jim Gordon in the Gotham TV series. This character is probably a version of the character that was Barbara Gordon’s mother in various comic books. This character is portrayed by Erin Richards. With her seeming committal to Arkham Asylum, what path will this character take?
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Thats it for this this week. Until next time, be good. Remember, Justice is a woman, hear her roar!