No matter how you felt about Oracle and Stephanie Brown’s absence from DC’s 52, Barbara Gordon’s return as Batgirl was an undeniable success. A success for diversity.
Because Barbara being shot by the Joker in The Killing Joke remained in continuity, Barbara Gordon was healing from a traumatic injury. In returning her to the streets of Gotham, Gail gave us a clear picture of PTSD. We saw a female recover from one of the most violent assaults in DC history, and regain her power while showing vulnerability as a strength … a mechanism for the signature compassion of Barbara Gordon.
Gail Simone wrote her that way, and I doubt few (if any) other writers would have done the character such justice while showing grace under the pressure of launching a single-character title.
What did we learn from such a positive fan response and loyal readership? We learned that people want to see stories about young, female characters. We learned that overtly feminine qualities are plenty interesting. We learned that the tried corporate formulas that have homogenized mainstream comic book storytelling are not all that there is. We learned that Gail Simone knows how to write a character, long-loved or new – I am looking at you, Alysia Yeoh. From hints of Singaporean culture to triumph over a mental disorder, we learned what many already knew: Diversity is good in comics.
Whatever the why of Gail’s removal from the title, her run on Batgirl will stand as a successful example of how to walk the walk in comics. It’s what she does … and I am sure she will continue to do so.
You can read her sentiments on leaving Batgirl here.
You can read a wildly insightful examination of Gail’s characterization of Batgirl here.
You can check out the details of Gail’s upcoming project, Leaving Megalopolis here.