espanolbot: (Default)
[personal profile] espanolbot posting in [community profile] scans_daily
Continuing our look at superheroes and villains of times past in comparison to their modern counterparts, we come to one of the more consistantly popular Bat Family characters from the Silver Age: Barbara Gordon!

Truth be told, there was a Batgirl prior to Babs, Bette Kane, though the circumstances surrounding her creation are a result of that awkward time in comics history due to the infamous accusations of Dr Frederich Wertham. Specifically, Bette (and the original Batwoman, Kathy Kane) were originally introduced into the comics in order to deflect the accusations that Batman and Robin were a couple... by introducing a pair of women to be romantically related to. 'Cause if two people of the opposite gender are hanging out, they must be an item, right?


Born of homophobia, Bette and Kathy were eventually retired from the comics, for reasons Babs' co-creator Carmine Infantino recalled as "Bob Kane had had a Bat-Girl for about three stories in the ’50s but she had nothing to do with a bat. She was like a pesky girl version of Robin. I knew we could do a lot better, so Julie and I came up with the real Batgirl, who was so popular she almost got her own TV show." Indeed, Babs shares something with Renee Montoya and Harley Quinn in that she was originally created outside of the comics first before being integrated into them. In Babs' case, they wanted to draw some of the audience from the Adam West Batman show to the actual comics, so they created Babs as a kind of bridging character between the two works, even optioning the character in their pitch for getting the show a third season.

Well, how does the origin itself hold up? As we will see in 1967's Detective Comics 359: The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl!





Bruce goes home, where the next day he receives a death threat from Killer Moth. Either he pays him $100,000, or he'll kill 'im. With the attack last night, Bruce deduces that Killer Moth may have tried this extortion scam before, and indeed finds other Gotham millionaires who decided to pay up rather than get kill by a man in a goofy costume. Amazingly, it turns out that Killer Moth manages to pull this off successfully TEN TIMES before Batman hears about it.

Batman decides on a plan to capture Killer Moth, telling Alfred to take a message to the designated drop off point while telling him to circulate that Bruce Wayne will be staying inside his mansion for the foreseeable future. The millionaire's refusal to pay is enough to get Killer Moth to send his gang around to Wayne Manor in order to make an example of him to the other victims of the extortion scheme.

Meanwhile, Babs has been perfecting her crimefighting persona, repairing her costume and continuing her martial arts training. However, discovering a book Bruce Wayne previously requested while in her civilian job as a librarian, she decides to just take it around to Wayne Manor in person, as you do. However, she discovers Killer Moth seemingly standing over Bruce's corpse with a smoking gun, so she leaps into action!



They fend off the Moth and his henchmen, only for Batman to berate Batgirl for spoiling their plan. See, the body was actually a life-like replica Bruce made of himself (as you do) to act as bait for the supervillain, but Batgirl coming in and wrecking up the joint threw their scheme out of whack.

The two superheroes rush off after the Moth, deflecting Batgirl's offer to help with the response "they can't worry ourselves about a girl". Babs doesn't take this lying down, and follows them on her bat-moped anyway, managing to track the pair to the Killer Moth's hideout and rescue them from a deathtrap. At this point the supervillain pretty much gives up and tries hiding, only for Babs to find him straight way behind a wall panel. Batman explains she was able to detect him by smell, as she got some perfume on him when she beat him up earlier.


Wow, everyone is kind of terrible to Batgirl in this story! Although they do appear to at least try and show that she's a competant supehero in her own right, even if the misogyny of her male counterparts is more than a touch grating.

Various elements from this story have been reused by various origins over the years, such as the inclusion of Killer Moth, her originally making the costume a costume party, and her willingness to keep trying to be a superhero despite Batman's insistance she stops (whoa, Stephanie Brown flashbacks).

The character would appear on and off for the next twenty years, with Babs retiring on and off over the years, where she even became a Congresswoman for a time. The Barbara Gordon version of the character was officially retired in 1988's Batgirl Special 1, and later that same year the Killing Joke happened, leading to Babs retiring from traditional superhero work for the next 30-ish years, until the 2011 reboot.

In terms of stories featuring Barbara's time as Batgirl, I think that Chuck Dixon's Batgirl: Year One is probably the best out of the ones I can think of, if you're interested.

Next up, the Riddler or Supergirl. You folks decide!

Date: 2016-12-16 07:42 pm (UTC)
coldfury: (Default)
From: [personal profile] coldfury
"The Barbara Gordon version of the character was officially retired in 1988's Batgirl Special 1, and later that same year the Killing Joke happened, leading to Babs retiring from active superhero work for the next 30-ish years, until the 2011 reboot."

I think you're bound to rankle few people by describing Oracle as anything but an active superhero. :)

Date: 2016-12-17 10:35 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
I think you really have to consider her Oracle time as being part of her superheroic career. She had a secret identity, worked outside the law, was a member of at least two teams (Suicide Squad and Justice League) and was a constant ally of the entire Batclan. It was a different take on the superhero, but a valid one.

Date: 2016-12-16 07:58 pm (UTC)
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
From: [personal profile] skjam
In either this story or the next one she appears in, Dr. Gordon is mentioned to be "head librarian" of the Gotham Library, though subsequent stories had her be just a normal library employee (possibly to make her seem younger.) For a fanfic I wrote about Batgirl during her early career, I made her "acting" head librarian for that period as her predecessor had gone mad and become the Bookworm.

Date: 2016-12-17 10:35 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
The Batman 66 comic had a story where the Bookworm has to deal with Batgirl, who basically out-librarians him!

Date: 2016-12-16 08:19 pm (UTC)
beyondthefringe: (Default)
From: [personal profile] beyondthefringe
I think one of the silliest aspects of Batgirl was as described above, where her everyday items all transform into parts of her costume. Like, what if she didn't have her beret or purse with her? What would she do then?

Or to look at it another way: how would Bruce Wayne's attire transform into Batman's?

"He removes his tie, and unfolds it until it becomes his cape! The handkerchief in his breast pocket turns into his mask! And he reverses his belt to reveal the familiar capsules of... the utility belt!""

Date: 2016-12-17 10:37 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Not really, I'd say.

Tony can wear whatever he likes, from three piece suit to tennis wear, and the Iron Man costume fits over it regardless.

A man always carrying the same briefcase every day isn't quite the same as someone who has to wear the exact same clothes every day.

Date: 2016-12-16 08:36 pm (UTC)
skjam: Ghost cat in a fez (fez)
From: [personal profile] skjam
Strange though that may be, Barbara is still darned impressive for being able to think of and hand-craft all those items. She also built/modified all the gadgets she used herself, on a librarian's salary.

Compare how Hawkeye, in his first appearance, nearly took Iron Man out using arrows he'd created using the resources available to an unemployed carnie.

Date: 2016-12-17 12:29 am (UTC)
lbd_nytetrayn: Star Force Dragonzord Power! (Default)
From: [personal profile] lbd_nytetrayn
You'd think that people would raise an eyebrow at her wearing the same clothes all the time.

Date: 2016-12-17 10:40 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Chap I know at work always wears green, ALWAYS... green shirt, green trousers, green tie, green jacket. He may well have a very limited wardrobe because aside from some shading, they all look the same. He's viewed as being ecccentric but no one raises an eyebrow.

If Dr Gordon likes to wear the same clothing style repeatedly, then that's just a harmless quirk (especially by Gotham standards, where a specialist in a field who doesn't go Bat-shit crazy (pun intended) is probably a releif)

Date: 2016-12-16 10:01 pm (UTC)
janegray: (Default)
From: [personal profile] janegray
Barbara looks really beautiful with the Princess Leia hairdo :)

Indeed, Babs shares something with Renee Montoya and Harley Quinn in that she was originally created outside of the comics first before being integrated into them.

I didn't know, that's really cool :D

In terms of stories featuring Barbara's time as Batgirl, I think that Chuck Dixon's Batgirl: Year One is probably the best out of the ones I can think of, if you're interested.

Have you ever read The Cat And The Bat? That's my very favourite Batgirl!Barbara's story.

Date: 2016-12-17 12:00 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] scorntx
Presenting the only time, anywhere, ever the words "Killer Moth" and "lethal" were used in the same sentence.
(Unless we're talking 'bout that colour-scheme he's got going on.)

Also, Bab's civilian appearance... my word.
(I finally see why Black Canary and Huntress hang out with her...)
If she's Gotham's idea of "plain", I'd be interested to see their idea of drop dead gorgeous.

-"She makes terrible puns."-
Mr. Pot? Mr. Kettle's calling, but you're not picking up the phone.


... now why would Bruce have a life-sized duplicate of himself lying around? And what else is he using it for?

(*snerk* Moth-men! How's a poor sod even end up with a job like that? Were they press-ganged?)

Date: 2016-12-17 10:30 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Yeah, I'm not sure if Robin is really critiquing her puns, or feeling sulkily threatened that he has competition in that regard.

Date: 2016-12-17 12:11 pm (UTC)
janegray: (Default)
From: [personal profile] janegray
... now why would Bruce have a life-sized duplicate of himself lying around? And what else is he using it for?

Seems like a lot of old-school comics/cartoons/anime had life-sized duplicates, doesn't it? They popped up once in a while and nobody ever questioned that XD

http://herzspalter.tumblr.com/post/89403930540/why-do-we-have-it-and-why-havent-we-used-it

Date: 2016-12-18 02:05 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] lego_joker
You'd be surprised. Moth was actually played up as a pretty big deal in his 1950s debut, even getting an ambiguous-death ending that was usually only reserved for big-guns like Joker, Penguin, and Riddler.

Date: 2016-12-17 12:04 am (UTC)
crinos: (Default)
From: [personal profile] crinos
I gotta say, Seeing Babs wearing her hair up in buns and sporting a pair of granny glasses is... odd, but not excatly bad. I kind of dig it (But did teen girls dress that way back when Batgirl was introduced? Or were the writers that out of touch?)

Date: 2016-12-17 12:31 am (UTC)
lbd_nytetrayn: Star Force Dragonzord Power! (Default)
From: [personal profile] lbd_nytetrayn
I thought she was older back then? I mean, college graduate and all...

Date: 2016-12-17 06:04 am (UTC)
viridian5: (Default)
From: [personal profile] viridian5
I think she's beautiful and the stereotypical library hair and glasses are kind of kinky. I have no idea about how teen girls and graduate students of the era dressed though.

Date: 2016-12-17 10:32 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
They were notoriously out of touch (hence the Teen Titans use of teen slang to an extent NO real life person ever used it), but Babs was never a teen girl as Batgirl in this era, she was a college graduate who had come back to Gotham to take up her job as librarian in Gotham. She was intended to be somewhere in her twenties.

Date: 2016-12-17 03:21 pm (UTC)
jkcarrier: me, at my old office (Default)
From: [personal profile] jkcarrier
"Wow, everyone is kind of terrible to Batgirl in this story! "

Yeah, kind of. Although I think Batman's entitled to be skeptical of her at first. Once he's had a chance to see her in action, he gives her an unequivocal endorsement ("I'll welcome her aid...she doesn't have to take a back seat to anybody!"), which is more than he ever did for Silver Age Batwoman.

This is my favorite version of Batgirl: Adult, independent, and completely lacking any deep "motivating tragedy". She fights crime because it's fun. Which makes her a perfect contrast/foil for Batman.

Riddler or Supergirl? I'm always up for a good Eddie Nigma story.

Date: 2016-12-17 05:13 pm (UTC)
bradygirl_12: (batgirl (christmas tree ornament))
From: [personal profile] bradygirl_12
This is my favorite version of Batgirl: Adult, independent, and completely lacking any deep "motivating tragedy". She fights crime because it's fun. Which makes her a perfect contrast/foil for Batman.

Yes! I love that there's no trauma in her origin. She does it because crimefighting is exciting and it makes her feel energized. I like that Babs has always been an 'independent contractor', working mainly on her own but willing to join up with the Dynamic Duo when necessary. She even kept her identity secret from them for awhile, like in the TV show. That gave her independence, an essential for a female superhero.

I love her 'librarian look'. :)

I vote for Supergirl, mainly because I love that character. Sorry, Eddie, I like ya, but Linda Danvers is my gal! :)

Date: 2016-12-18 02:08 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] lego_joker
Neato.

As a companion to this, I think I'll post Silver Age Batwoman's debut story. I know everyone likes ragging on poor Kathy, but I think that taken in a vacuum, she was actually *more* competent than Babs in her debut. It's just overshadowed by Batman and Robin (and their writers) being much more open in their sexist douchebaggery.

(Frankly, I'll never forgive The Brave and the Bold for how badly it shat on her with "The Criss-Cross Conspiracy!")

Date: 2016-12-18 12:11 pm (UTC)
supermanda: (Ivy ✥ as in irresistible!)
From: [personal profile] supermanda
God, I love these posts. I still go back and read the Ivy one.

I vote Supergirl! Mostly because I struggle with liking her, and I... kind of want to. I just don't know enough about her outside of a few guest appearances here and there, I suppose, where she came off as bratty.

Date: 2016-12-18 04:54 pm (UTC)
ozaline: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ozaline
I vote for Supergirl too there's a couple early stories I'd like to post on the heels of your post.

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