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  1. #1
    New Member BatWatch's Avatar
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    Default Three Ways Batgirl Should Improve

    Overall, I think Gail Simone's handling of Batgirl has been fairly good. It started off a little rough with the yawn inspiring and convoluted villain Mirror, and it took some time to build up steam, but I enjoyed Barbara's showdown with Knightfall and the Joker story has thus far been riveting. In consequence, I was a little disappointed when it was reveled that Gail had been fired since it felt like Batgirl was just starting to hit its stride. Of course, it was soon revealed that Simone was rehired in a move that left everybody dazed, confused, and unsure whether to feel irritated or victorious.

    Whatever the madness that must have happened behind the scenes between DC and Gail, Simone's removal from the series started me thinking on how the series could improve, so I've come up with three pieces of advice for Barbara and whoever ends up writing her.

    1. Get a Job, Hippie!

    What is Barbara even doing for money right now? It is actually extremely bizarre that readers do not know the answer to this question. I know how every other member of the Bat Family pays the bills, but Babs seems to be free from all responsibility and care except when she wears the suit. What's up with that? Does Commissioner Gordon have enough to pay for Barbara to have a separate apartment? Does Batman finance her so she can spend more time fighting crime? Is she going back to college or working a low income job? It's a mystery.

    It's also a shame because having a job would make Barbara much more relatable to readers. Many of the people who read comics are at the stage in their lives where they are either getting their first job or establishing themselves in a career. How great would it be to see a heroine endure those same sort of everyday struggles. A job would give Barbara some much needed depth because right now she has little going for her. Her supporting cast consists of an estranged mother, a loyal but absent (from most issues) father, one roommate, (who also gets little screen time) and her sociopathic little brother. It's time for Barbara to rejoin society.

    2. Act Your Age!


    I get it. There was a reboot, and now, Barbara Gordon is much less experienced and therefore less mature, but can't we see Barbara act a little more grown up? Oracle was cool, calm, and analytical, yet she was not emotionally stunted. She could definitely express her feelings if the need arrived. She was confident and bold. Can any of these things really be said about current Barbara?

    I would describe DCNU Barbara as more flat than cool. I have very little sense of who she is as a person. She is not particularly calm nearly having a panic attack several times since the DCNU began. Is she analytical? Yes, she still has some of that going for her, but she has rarely displayed the same level of situational analysis that Oracle so readily displayed. Is she confident and bold? Absolutely not! This is highlighted most clearly when Barbara allowed one of the thugs who attacked her to go free. What was even the point of that? The only thing I can figure is that Barbara has so little confidence in herself that she did not feel she could trust her own decision making in regards to dealing with the punk. In general, Batgirl feels like a character who doubts her every action, and I, for one, find it difficult to respect such a character.

    DCNU Batgirl has less experience in the suit than DCU Batgirl, and it appears Oracle is out of the picture altogether, but Babs is still in her twenties and not much younger than she was before the reboot. It is time for her to put on her big girl tights, stop monologuing like a teenager on Twitter, and show some maturity.

    3. Tear Up Your Victim Card

    If I see one more victim in a Batgirl comic, I am going to scream. Obviously, Batgirl herself was the victim of a brutal attack at the hands of Joker, and I do like, for the most part, the way that Simone handled Batgirl's struggle to overcome this challenge. However, I am really tired of every plot revolving around victimhood. Mirror was the victim of a car crash who watched his family die in the ensuing inferno. Mirror snapped and decided to target other victims who had survived tragic circumstances and kill them. Gretel was a journalist who became a victim who was shot in the head three times with a .38 caliber pistol. In response to her tragedy, she became a villain who could control the minds of men, and her victimhood was so important to her character that she could only activate her powers by continually spouting the number .338 which represented the three times she was shot with a .38. What did Gretel do with her power? She used it to victimize men. During the Night of the Owls crossover, you might think you would get a soulless assassin for Batgirl to battle, but no, we get another victim who was orphaned at a young age by war aggression and indoctrinated to be an assassin for the Court of Owls . Yet another villain, Knightfall, is a victim of her evil boyfriend and horrible circumstance who was locked in Arkham for years.

    Victim, victim, victim.

    I get that Simone wanted to explore the theme of victimization in Batgirl, but guess what? There is nothing heroic about being a victim. Victims are passive. Heroes are the anti-victim. That is not to say that bad things cannot happen to good, heroic people both in and out of the comic book universes, but both in and out of the comic book universes, heroes are defined by their drive to push on and overcome rather than to wallow in their tragedy. Heroes might become victims, but they do not remain victims. At times, Babs manages to transcend her old pains and doubts, but her entire series thus far has been very much two steps forward, one step back, and it is painful to see how much this character has regressed emotionally through the DCNU despite the great leap in her physical ability.

    Right now, Barbara is battling Joker, and she will soon come face to face with James Jr. Neither one of these characters are victims; they are both predators. James Jr. especially is a character who had everything going for him yet still chose to be evil. After Babs saves her mom and kicks James Jr.'s teeth in, she needs to have a revelation that we all choose who we will be, and she needs to choose no longer to play the victim.

    Conclusion

    Despite a bad start, Batgirl has been very good recently, but it is time for this hero to grow up.
    For more news, reviews, and commentary for the entire Bat Family, check out Batwatch

  2. #2
    The Dominoed Daredoll batGRRRl4ever's Avatar
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    I give you one out of the three. The first I am on record to agreeing with, our Daredoll needs a job. Hopefully she'll be getting a job related to that forensic psychology degree soon.

    As to the second, your wearing "oracle" rimmed glasses and comparing a character who was 5-7 yrs older than the current Babs and who was also purposely characterized to become an armchair general and computer hacker type to compensate for the fact she couldn't do anything physical, which of course Batgirl can do in spades. Barbara is now 22 yrs old (I added one year as at the start of the new 52 she was 21 but it's on record it's been a year since the Joker tore his face off), and that is simply being at a different place in one's life in one's early 20's from their mid to later 20's.

    As to the third, well that's the theme of the book. Don't like it, don't buy it. There are MORE than enough in readership that are very much enjoying the very rich and nuanced situation that Barbara faces as a former victim who fights with compassion for other victims both good and bad. Further, Batgirl USES her fear to be present in the situation and to make the best, and hopefully most compassionately possible choice. This is something DIFFERENT that Gail is showing the readers and the readers are responding to. If you want an uber-determined groin-breaker that isn't so introspective there's always, you know, Batwoman to go read instead.
    Last edited by batGRRRl4ever; 01-08-2013 at 11:16 AM. Reason: add
    Pull list:
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  3. #3
    Don't do the Limbo sunofdarkchild's Avatar
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    Those 3 things would be an improvement.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Bluebow's Avatar
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    Become more consistant and show lasting development of skills and attitude. I can understand her being nervous and having rusty skills at first and her dealings with The Joker are a special case, but her competence and approach to dealing with situations is too up and down seemingly dependant on the people and situations she is confronted with more than her own abilities. It seems that she loses or gains ability more than some opponents are tougher than others.

  5. #5
    Veteran Member The_Greatest_Username's Avatar
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    I agree with #'s 1 and 3, but you do realize that Barbara is even younger now than she's EVER been as Batgirl or Oracle. Of course Oracle was cool, calm, and analytical...she was an experienced hero and like 30. This new Batgirl is 22 and had only been an active hero for one year prior to retiring and getting shot.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Bluebow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Greatest_Username View Post
    I agree with #'s 1 and 3, but you do realize that Barbara is even younger now than she's EVER been as Batgirl or Oracle. Of course Oracle was cool, calm, and analytical...she was an experienced hero and like 30. This new Batgirl is 22 and had only been an active hero for one year prior to retiring and getting shot.
    But she does seem to be too variable in her behaviour. She goes from situations like letting Knightfall's minions take and permanently mutilate the character Ricky, who got his leg caught in the trap because she did not have the confidence to challenge them, to fighting better than ever whilst badly wounded.
    Last edited by Bluebow; 01-08-2013 at 01:05 PM.

  7. #7
    The Dominoed Daredoll batGRRRl4ever's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebow View Post
    Become more consistant and show lasting development of skills and attitude. I can understand her being nervous and having rusty skills at first and her dealings with The Joker are a special case, but her competence and approach to dealing with situations is too up and down seemingly dependant on the people and situations she is confronted with more than her own abilities. It seems that she loses or gains ability more than some opponents are tougher than others.
    But is it realistic to bring one's "A" game to EVERY situation? A part of this book though is that Batgirl/Barbara is introspective, and she needs to think through if she is doing the best thing for a given situation. This is smart writing that a lot of the current readership is responding to. But I've seen a Batgirl that has been on a progressive learning curve since the first issue. Anything that has occurred pre-flashpoint I have ignored as it has no merit on THIS Barbara, and have only been judging her from issue #1 onward.
    Pull list:
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Bluebow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by batGRRRl4ever View Post
    But is it realistic to bring one's "A" game to EVERY situation? A part of this book though is that Batgirl/Barbara is introspective, and she needs to think through if she is doing the best thing for a given situation. This is smart writing that a lot of the current readership is responding to. But I've seen a Batgirl that has been on a progressive learning curve since the first issue. Anything that has occurred pre-flashpoint I have ignored as it has no merit on THIS Barbara, and have only been judging her from issue #1 onward.
    No she can not always bring the "A" game and I don't have a problem with her getting beat-up now and then but there is a time and place for introspection and that is not when someone is smashing your nose with their knee, If she could anticipate it why could she not avoid it? and to go from that to letting her guard down enough to get wounded, but then show more grit than before is admirable, but it does seem strange that although Batwoman and Detective McKenna did not witness that, she suddenly seemed to have their respect.
    Last edited by Bluebow; 01-08-2013 at 04:22 PM.

  9. #9
    All Caste Warrior JasonTodd428's Avatar
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    I agree that she needs to get a job and I'd also like to see her mature as the series progresses. It was fine for Babs to be rusty at first since she had been retired from superheroing and has only recently gotten the use of her legs back but I do feel like it's time we start seeing her getting back into the swing of things and I think we also should be seeing her learning from her mistakes in the field. I don't mean that I expect her to bring her "A" game in all situations but I would like to see her up her game a bit now starting with evading attacks a bit more often.
    Characters come and go, revamped and revisited. But as long as you enjoyed them, remember them and continue to appreciate them, then that character, your hero or heroine, will always exist.

  10. #10
    Member Seattle Freeze's Avatar
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    I'm Seattle Freeze and I support the openning message.

    I would add to #2 that she just needs to act smarter. I understand she lost some years and her experience as Oracle but Babs can still be computer smart and skilled at researching persons and situations before jumping into a fight. Not only would her having a skill set make her relatable, it would show what she brings to the bat family.

    Quote Originally Posted by batGRRRl4ever View Post
    But is it realistic to bring one's "A" game to EVERY situation?
    Yes. Yes it is. If not, you get yourself killed or beat senseless. Turning her back to Knightfall and getting stabbed in the back, that wasn't even a C game!
    Chill!

  11. #11
    Veteran Member The_Greatest_Username's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebow View Post
    But she does seem to be too variable in her behaviour. She goes from situations like letting Knightfall's minions take and permanently mutilate the character Ricky, who got his leg caught in the trap because she did not have the confidence to challenge them, to fighting better than ever whilst badly wounded.
    Ricky's mutilation was needed (in the context of the story) for Barbara to have the willpower to fight Knightfall and her thugs.

  12. #12
    Hopeful Writer Darkspellmaster's Avatar
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    Totally agree with the opening statement, and yes it is expected to bring your A game into a life or death situation. I've seen Gail write her with her A game, she can write her with her A game, I have a feeling that she's being told she can't.

    My issue with this Babs is that at 22 or 21, she's Batgirl, she's also a police commissoners daughter! This means that she should know how to handle herself and what sort of characters are out on the street. If the Robins are allowed to have hacking skills and computer sense, why not Babs? Why is she religated to not being allowed to have such skills. I miss the character that came off as someone that could suprise the hell out of Bruce. Yes she was out of the game, but during that time you would think she would be working on making herself stronger mentally and physically as well so that it doesn't happen again. You would also think that she would try to do other things that would allow her to gain the upper hand on someone that came at her.

    She's 22 not 15, I can see that from a real rookie, but a girl who's supposed to be very intellegent. No I can't accept. Babs wouldn't let herself be in that situation back when she was first starting in the DCU, and Gail has shown her in flash back to be more then capable of handeling herself. So why won't the editiors and such allow it?

  13. #13
    Hopeful Writer Darkspellmaster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Greatest_Username View Post
    Ricky's mutilation was needed (in the context of the story) for Barbara to have the willpower to fight Knightfall and her thugs.
    Why would she need to gain that will power? Shouldn't she already have seen that Kightfall and her thugs were a dangerous bunch of charaters?

  14. #14
    Gotham Guardian Captain Jim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BatWatch View Post
    Whatever the madness that must have happened behind the scenes between DC and Gail, Simone's removal from the series started me thinking on how the series could improve, so I've come up with three pieces of advice for Barbara and whoever ends up writing her.
    When I first saw this thread, I thought, "Uh-oh." But I was completely wrong; this was a well balanced, well-thought out, constructive post.
    Jim Zimmerman
    Co-moderator, CBR Batman Forum

  15. #15
    Gotham Guardian Captain Jim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by batGRRRl4ever View Post
    Don't like it, don't buy it.
    I don't think that's fair. Constructive criticism (which the OP was) is never out of line.
    Jim Zimmerman
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