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8/21 – Curious Cat Asks…

Should Barbara Gordon regain her mobility (thanks to ShaunN for the idea)?

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66 Comments

I do not think she should, at least not beyond a limited amount. As Oracle, she’s unique. Let’s not ruin that.

Yeah, I liked the issue where she was able to wiggle her toes… but…

I’m happy for her to regain a certain amount of mobility, but at a price – not a miracle cure like Batman or Tony Stark..

I know this sounds sick, but I think she should stay in the wheelchair the majority of the time… She could stand, and walk with the aid fo a stick, but not have the Olympic gymnast level of acrobatics that she would need to be Batgirl…

But, yeah, it would be nice to see her having a slowdance with her beau…

Typo Lad and Blackjak are correct.

I always wonder the same about guys like Cyborg and The Thing and why they can’t get some of their humanity back.

I’d think the wheelchair wouldn’t be the one thing stopping barb from throwing the tights on, and I personally don’t see the harm in her regaining mobility. I can see her as a source of inspiration for some though and I guess that would be a detriment if they take away the disability.

I think it would be interesting if Babs regained the use of her legs temporarily, maybe for an arc or two, just to have her wrestle with whether she truly values her identity as Oracle or if, deep down, she feels its just a consolation prize she gave herself for not being able to go on rooftop patrol with the Batclan anymore. As a permanent thing, I don’t know that it could be handled well and I think Oracle is just too unique a character with her limitations to risk on it.

In my mind, there’s one good story there and only one.

That’s the conflict between how much she’d enjoy being a thrillseeker again and being Batgirl/woman and stopping a few robberies a night and how she would revel in it and the freedom and mobility that’s been restored to her…

vs

How much more useful she’d be in that night if she was Oracle and how she’d likely affect and save far more lives and it’s the more adult decision to stay in a support role because no one else can do it nearly as well as her, even if it means she can’t enjoy her recovered freedom like she wanted.

That would be an interesting story. Past mining that, I don’t see the benefit to it.

I dunno, I kind of like her as she is in the role of Oracle. I think she’s fine the way she is, and is a pretty good role model. I like that, even though she is in a wheelchair, she still has enough skill to take people down in hand to hand combat.

Barbara was originally crippled to get rid of a “lame” character (in DC’s opinion) while also giving the Joker more “street cred.” By now neither thing really applies.

She remains in the chair so that somebody else can be Batgirl now (who I guess is not ‘lame’ anymore). But regaining her ability to walk would not necessarily meas she would have to reclaim the identity- Dick Grayson left behind the Robin identity and just got a new one.

People want her to stay as Oracle because they feel that she is cooler or more effective that way. I agree. However, there really isn’t much reason to let her stay crippled for that. She can do the Hacker stuff with her spine healed too.

Except perhaps to have her be an inspiration to handicapped people. There aren’t many wheelchair bound heroes, except for Professor X. Still, I always wondered why the heroes of DC cannot cure things like that with the resources at their disposal. Even Xavier has been cured (he just keeps getting crippled again.)

Personally, this is no big issue for me. I lean to the “let her walk again” side, but I won’t loose any sleep over it.

I’m surprised she’s been unable to walk for this long, really.

I wonder just how much of it is to do with the fact that her being crippled was written by Alan Moore, and that DC don’t want to appear to “negate” some of The Killing Joke’s impact.

Uncrippled her, but then make Babs stay in the wheelchair in public to maintain her secret identity.

It’d make a nice conclusion for her character to end up walking again, but since big 2 comics don’t get conclusions, I’d never want to see her walking well again. She’s too fun a character as Oracle. At most, like others have said, a cane and a limp, which I think would be a great success for her, but still leave her physically limited as far as superheroics.

If you’d ask me this question ten years ago, I’d say yes, ‘uncripple’ her. In the world of DC’s superheroes, they’ve shown such advanced technology in play that I had a hard time imagining that they couldn’t fix her paralysis, especialy given her rich and powerful friends, like Bruce Wayne and so forth. Not to mention, I would have loved to have seen her as Batgirl again.

But now, I say have her remain as is. She has become too integral a part of DC’s universe as Oracle, as well as a wonderful role model for anybody facing a similar physical condition. Like Mecha-Shiva said above, if DC’s superheroes were serialized in finite stories like manga or independent comics, then I’d love for her to have the happy ending and be ‘cured’ and walk down the aisle with Dick Grayson or whatever, but I since she is in a perpetually-chronicled universe, she serves a much bigger need, and niche, as Oracle then she ever did as Batgirl.

@Sijo: So they made a lame character lame to get rid of her? Ha! I’m a horrible person.

The important thing, for me, is that she continues to operate as Oracle. I can be persuaded either way so far as regaining the ability to walk, but I’m adamant that she works best as Oracle. It’s a unique and interesting character, and I have little interest in seeing her become another Bat-themed vigilante again.

One of the cool things about DC is the way they can sometimes manage to create closure without ever concluding their stories. The transition of Dick from Robin to Nightwing, the legacy of the Flashes and Green Lanterns, Babs tragic metamorphosis from Batgirl to Oracle all create a sense of forward momentum and closure for certain characters without the need to stop telling stories about them. Walking or not doesn’t change that too much for Babs, but making her Batgirl again would just be a step backwards.

It’d make for a nice story.

No, partly because I think she’s more unique the way she is now, but mainly because as long as people with disabilities in the real world can’t magically cure themselves, it doesn’t seem right to let Babs do so.

I mean, yeah, there’s obviously big differences between real world science and DC science, but there’s a difference between escapism and just plain cruelty, I think.

I think they should just have her ‘star’ in the Confidential series (love the current Fabian and Maguire Batgirl / Catwoman team up) and other flashback stories more often. There’s no need to magically make her able to walk again, even if the comic book universe typically allows these miracles to happen.

When Tony Stark was healed of his heart ailment, an ex-girlfriend shot him, and he was right back where he started. When Jigsaw was healed of his facial scars, Punisher gave them to him again. When Harvey Dent’s face was healed, he burned it off himself.

Any Barbara Gordon story that has her walking again will end with her being crippled again. I don’t want to see that.

Besides, did anyone see Murderball? Mark Zupan said that wheelchair rugby has become such a huge positive part of his life, that if he could do it over again he’s remain crippled so he could continue to have it be part of his life. I’ve got no doubt that as Oracle she’s helping more people, and in a way a generic crime-fighter couldn’t, than as Bat-Girl. (Would Calculator be a better charatcer if he got back in costume, rather than be the broker of the DCU’s villains?) I’d like to think deep down, she’s grown to be happier now, despite her limitations.

barbara gordon (first as batgirl, later as oracle) has always been one of my favorite characters…then at some point after i became disabled about 7 years ago she became my absolute favorite character

i always thought she was more interesting as oracle than she was as batgirl…as batgirl she would always be in batman’s shadow…a derivative, feminized version…but as oracle she’s her own person…a hero and a team leader in her own right (and frankly the fact that the justice league calls on a disabled person for help is just awesome)

she does much more good in the chair than she ever did in the tights…i mean that two ways…in the books – like matt d said – she can save more people as oracle than as batgirl…and outside the books – as one of the very few disabled heroes in comics she serves a far greater purpose…she can inspire…she can be a symbol for disabled people…i always hear people talk about how batman’s their favorite character because “he’s just a guy…i could be like batman”…well i can’t…i’ll never be able run around the city beating up muggers…but i can sit in a wheelchair (i do that quite well actually) and i can use a computer (not as well as she can and not as well as i sit in a wheelchair but you get the point)

if barbara gordon were a real person i’d want so badly for her to be able to walk again…just as i do for all people who have lost the use of their legs….but since she’s a fictional character it really is better for everyone that she stay in the chair…better for me because i have a character i can truly identify with…better for you because you have the opportunity to “know” a disabled person (fictional as she may be) and realize that we’re more than our chairs

i have always wondered given that the DC universe has things like Larus pits and even magic why the dc powers that be have never let someone have Oracle be allowed to use them for its not like if she regains her mobility again she will want to be Batgirl for she has been well estabilished as Oracle for letting her be mobile would just help her enable her to step out on missions every once and a while. or better why has she not ever asked Cyborg for some of the tech that made him . for letting Babs get her spine healed won’t hurt the character just improve her. add a new touch toher and open her up to new things that could be done with her.

I think it was established at some point that Barbara said no to having mechanical legs or what not. I did love the one shot where Neron tried to tempt her (but I’m a sucker for OHMU/Who’s Who style issues).

If I ran the circus, I think I’d do a total reboot and have her back as Batgirl. But if we’re keeping present continuity as is, I think it would be a step backward for her character.

Nah, she’s far too good in the current role, and by having her paralyzed it allows you to elevate other characters as her field agents. Black Canary was a lost cause before that role, Huntress has become much more visible, etc. Having her mobile would (a) be a bad symbolic move, and (b) make it too tempting to just make the book about her, rather than shared between her and the supporting cast.

‘Sides, DC already has a perfectly acceptable – if screwed up over the past three years – Batgirl if they want to use that character.

danlarkin – would you also make dick robin again?…if so why take away characters that have grown back to what they were before (a la “brand new day)?…if not why does dick get to become his own man but barbara not get to become her own woman?

I think the struggle to regain mobility, following up on the toe-wiggle that Blackjak mentioned, would be an excellent example of everyday heroism that would only add to her character. The contrast between Bruce’s training to perfect his body and mind with Barbara’s training to regain normal functionality would be quite dramatic.

I find it a little odd, though, that people are assuming that paraplegia is somehow necessary for Barbara’s role as Oracle. Oh sure, there would be the inevitable 4-part storyline where she tries to shop for an office chair just as Killer Croc attacks the Ikea…but after that, I think she’d be okay.

Brian.

No, don’t put her back in a costume. Do keep her as Oracle. DO restore her mobility, if for no other purpose than to shove a live hand-grenade down the Joker’s skinny throat. SO sick of the Joker.

She should just get Bruce to turn her wheelchair into a tricked-out Batchair and go back to being Batgirl without even having to walk.

Or she could learn to walk again and join the GCPD, working with her dad. That would make for great stories.

Have Braniac replace her spine…

brian – it’s not that paraplegia is necessary for her to be oracle…it’s that it’s necessary for her not to be be batgirl…and we all know that if dc were to fix her legs it wouldn’t be long before a writer – or more likely fan outcry – decided that the “one true batgirl” had to come back…and when that happens she loses all the growth she’s had over the last almost-20 years

Barbara should stay crippled. She’s a much more significant character now in all conceivable ways: She finally found an unique ‘niche’, and she’s a FAR more inspirational character than she ever was when she was “Generic Athletic Heroine #4509845″. How many relevant disabled heroes are there? Do we REALLY need to have even fewer?

No. There’s no reason to think that she would be a better character out of the wheelchair than she is in it.

I don’t know, I would like to see it. All the technological things that could easily repair her aside, I think that after establishing herself so well as a team leader and hacker, the idea that her being crippled is integral to her identity is just stupid.

The correct answer to this question is “no.” And everyone above has explained why.

Tom Fitzpatrick

August 21, 2008 at 10:30 am

No.
That’d be even worse than bringing characters that had been killed off, and then years later, brought back again to boost sales.

It would be insulting to those who ARE permanently crippled and would not ever walk again.

No.

My question to this question is simply “why?”

She has mobility now. She gets around just fine in the wheelchair.

I think the question you wanted to ask was whether she should regain the ability to walk. THAT is a question for discussion, not mobility.

bringing back dead characters is insulting to dead people who can’t live again

The question is “Why” restore her mobility, not “Why not” restore her mobility. The worst stories have come out of “Why not” rather than “Why”.

There is no reason to restore Barbara’s legs. She’s had magic, super science and tech based heroes offer and she’s always turned them down. She doesn’t need her legs to do what she does. Sure, it might be nice to see her recover, but what would it add to the story?

Getting rid of the wheelchair is, IMHO, the same as the question of getting rid of Spider-Man’s marriage. There aren’t any stories that can’t be told about either another Batgirl or set in another time. And, it is a building block of the character’s history.

Theno

I’m fine with Barbara Gordon being able to walk, just as long as she doesn’t go back to being a “traditional” superhero or become Batgirl again. I like how she fights crime without punching and kicking the problem. She’s one of the few comic characters that actually “grew” up; she took the knowledge she obtained from being a sidekick and created her own way of doing things.

As for the “why,” it’d be interesting to see what she does if she could walk. Is the only reason she’s Oracle because she can’t be running around rooftops and be Batgirl? Or is she Oracle because she knows she can accomplish a lot more working behind the scenes?

No.

It would genericize her too much. Right now (depending on what the state of Xavier is) she’s probably the best known disabled hero whose disability isn’t neutralized by other powers.

If you want Babs as Batgirl again, there are more than 20 years worth of stories already, plus the Batman cartoon(s) and their tie-in comics, plus stories set in the past that haven’t been told yet, like the current story in Batman Confidential and the Year One from a few, uh, years ago. Leave Oracle alone.

Jeff Ryan mentioned Mark Zupan… I think this would make an interesting storyline: What if Barbara had the opportunity to be healed but DECIDED to stay in the wheelchair and remain Oracle. Some good writer out there could put an interesting spin on this. Maybe Barbara is offered a “cure” in exchange for aiding one of Gotham’s criminals. Quite the moral dilemma.

Hmmmm… has me thinking now of lots of crazy options.

Considering she tried to unplug the internet in Final Crisis, so the quicker they get her out of that wheelchair and back into a Bat costume the better.

Nah, leave the bitch crippled. :) You can tell pretty much all the Barbara Gordon Batgirl stories you want in flashback.

I’d say no. Honestly though, I’ll bet you that if Oracle wasn’t such a well-developed and unique character, DC would’ve had her back as Batgirl around the time they reintroduced Hal Jordan. Like many others have said, there’s no logical reason why she couldn’t be walking again, but the character is all the better for the path she’s gone down since “The Killing Joke” (although more credit goes to John Ostrander for following up with the character afterwards).

Have a good day.
John Cage

Two words: Stem Cells. But, I don’t see what good it would do to have her walking again. Maybe with a cane or a crutch as a reminder of her past, but please, don’t put her back on the streets fighting crime.

Maybe DC is treating Alan Moore as one of its sacred cows, but, why not? The Killing Joke was a popular story, adn if there’s one thing comics need more of, is respect for stories that manage to change the status quo.

“adn if there’s one thing comics need more of, is respect for stories that manage to change the status quo.”

Pity its not very good though. Where Moore got the “let’s start laughing inanely at a bad gag” thing at the end from, instead of the more logical “now i’m going to punch you in the face until it turns to mush” approach I’ll never know. I mean, what are we supposed to expect happened after those final few panels?

“haha..oh, hahaha. you crack me up.”

“yeah. pity about the chick i crippled though.”

(wipes tears from eyes)

“……oh yeah, forgot about that. Well….the gag was still funny though.”

It’s like one of those endings to an 80s cartoon where everyone is standing around laughing, except even less realistic.

I don’t have much of an opinion either way about Barbara Gordon walking again. As long as she remains Oracle and doesn’t revert to her insipid Batgirl identity, she’ll remain a character that I enjoy having around the DCU.

(Obviously, a talented author could probably tell a good story about Barbara Gordon becoming Batgirl again, but I think the result of that would be a less promising toy than Oracle for subsequent writers to play with.)

I think that there’s two separate questions here: The one being asked, and the one everyone’s answering. :)

The one being asked is, “Should Barbara Gordon regain her mobility?” My answer is, “Yes, at the same time everyone else does.” Real-world technologies dealing with nerve damage and spinal injuries are moving at an unbelievably rapid pace, and it’s entirely possible that within a decade, the idea of a character who’s wheelchair-bound for life will be as dated in fiction as a typewriter or a rotary phone. If people in the real world are recovering from similar injuries, Babs should too. She shouldn’t be confined to the wheelchair simply as a plot kludge. But I don’t want to see a “miracle cure” fixing her spine when so many people in the real world still don’t have that option.

The one everyone’s answering is, “Should she stay Oracle?” That’s a complex one for me. On the one hand, Oracle is a unique and interesting take on superheroics, and the Birds of Prey set-up makes for a great storytelling engine because of it. There aren’t many superheroes that co-ordinate their activities with a “central command” figure, and it would be a shame to lose that.

On the other hand, Oracle’s been used as a crutch for so many lazy writers that I’d love to see that particular trick go away. Nobody in the DCU is ever surprised by a supervillain any more, and nobody ever does legwork. They all just call Oracle up on their perfect-reception built-into-the-costume cell-phone, and Oracle tells them everything they need to know off-panel so the writer doesn’t have to bother with all that pesky “exposition” that all the fans probably already know anyway. (And if they don’t already know everything about every supervillain in the DCU, what are they doing reading our comics?)

So I’m divided. Oracle is a good character, but her existence in the DCU is problematic. And frankly, after reading ‘Showcase Presents Batgirl’, I have a much bigger fondness for that incarnation of the character than I once did. An athletic female superhero? Dime a dozen. An athletic female superhero who’s also a Congresswoman? Now that’s cool. :)

I am of two thoughts:

1. If they insist on using her as Batgirl in the form of cartoons, toys, comics, etc. then she should absolutely regain the ability to walk. A consistent form of the published mainstream character is, I strongly believe, essential.

2. If they want Cassandra to be Batgirl then stand by her and merchandize her. It’ll take a while but until John Q. Public can start indentifying Batgirl as Cassandra I think they actually hurt her by making her compete with the classic version.

I like to believe we can have it both ways but the pragmatic side of me says no way.

mtsbspidey said “danlarkin – would you also make dick robin again?…if so why take away characters that have grown back to what they were before (a la “brand new day)?…if not why does dick get to become his own man but barbara not get to become her own woman?”

Yeah, if I could reboot everything, absolutely. Robin is a cooler character than Nightwing. Babs as Batgirl is a lot cooler than stupid ninja bondage Batgirl, and a tad cooler than Oracle too (though I enjoy Oracle as a character).

But since a full-on reboot isn’t going to happen, it’s preferable to keep things as they are, I guess.

“Babs as Batgirl is a lot cooler than stupid ninja bondage Batgirl.”

Bite. Your. Tongue. Kelly Puckett/Damion Scott’s stint on the Batgirl comic is probably one of my favorite runs of all time. Cassandra is definitely the cooler Batgirl. Although I’ll agree that Babs as Batgirl is more marketable.

Different strokes, I guess. I know she’s got a devoted fanbase, I just never saw the appeal.

No, she’s been so much more interesting as Oracle than she ever was as Batgirl.
She’s a stronger character.

I’d love to see the Barbara Gordon Batgirl come back, but frankly, the logical way to do it is to just have the Batgirl of one of the 51 other Earths hop over to the main DCU. That way you can have Barbara as Batgirl and Oracle at the same time. I think the best thing about Barbara Batgirl (which may be more an invention of flashback stories than the way she was actually written back in the day, but it’s the version of the character I know) is that she wasn’t a “bad girl” or self-consciously “cool” type. She didn’t wear a midriff-baring costume or carry a katana or have a lot of angst or a dark, blood-drenched origin, and we were never expected to believe she was the world’s greatest martial artist or a trained ninja or “down with the streets” (I have no idea if anyone still says that) or anything like that. She was actually nice, “spunky” as opposed to “naughty” or “kickass,” and even a little innocent (not in a “Golly gee whiz” way, but in a “ray of sunshine in the darnkess of Gotham” way).

That’s where I disagree with the people saying the Barbara Batgirl was “just another action heroine” … BUT, if she became Batgirl again now, she’d have to lose all the innocence, since she HAS seen so much of the dark side of life by now. That’s why I’d advocate bringing in the Batgirl of the altenate Earth that’s permanently stuck in the Silver Age (you know there is one) or something.

Or give her a Green Lantern ring, like in that one Elseworlds where all the men died. That would be cool. :)

No way.
I think it’s cool that you have a character who’s in a wheelchair but , instead of being defeated by it, has actually become a MORE well-rounded character.
She’s gone from being a second-rate Batman knock-off who was almost kinda as good maybe as Batman nearly on maybe her best day, to being the DCU’s greatest computer expert.

Not only is Oracle much more interesting that Batgirl ever was as a character, she fills a niche in the universe that isn’t filled by… oh, I dunno, a couple dozen other nonpowered crimefighters in the DCU (some of whom are even women wearing bat symbols).

Would we even be having this discussion if Barbara were a male character?

Was it insulting to real people who use wheelchairs when globe-trotting, wheelchair user Bruce Wayne had his mobility restored and became Batman again?

No, it’s not realistic for Babs to regain her mobility, but she exists in an unrealistic world where male characters recover similar and worse injuries all the time. DC looks terribly sexist for leaving her in the chair

I think Oracle should stay in the wheelchair, because I need threads like this to make me smile once is a while, and if she could walk, I’d have to revert to laughing at people judging the merit of Sue Dibney’s rape in a universe of super-heroes…and I’m not ready to sink that low yet.

Joe Gualtieri said:

“Was it insulting to real people who use wheelchairs when globe-trotting, wheelchair user Bruce Wayne had his mobility restored and became Batman again?”

Yes. It absolutely was. I’ve said on numerous occasions that both Batman and Iron Man’s debilitating spinal injuries were extremely poor editorial decisions, and the subsequent reversals of those were in very poor taste. You might disagree with the position, but at least I’m consistent. :)

Yes, she should regain her mobility and become Batgirl again.

“Yes, she should regain her mobility and become Batgirl again.”

why?….in two years she’ll have been oracle for as long as she was batgirl…i think it might be time for the “one true batgirl” crowd to move on…no one calls for dick to go back to being robin (aside from danlarkin above)…what’s the difference?

Alan Moore should write it

Just to see how he would do it.

“Was it insulting to real people who use wheelchairs when globe-trotting, wheelchair user Bruce Wayne had his mobility restored and became Batman again?”

Nope. Because Batman is one of the big name characters, and he tends to remain the same.
DC/Warner Brothers have a lot of money riding on the fact that Batman is pretty much the same guy from year to year and decade to decade.
Batgirl, on the other hand, is a half-baked Batman knock-off.

And that was me.

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