A lot of people are inspired by Batman, that’s kind of a big thing in his stories. People see or hear about Batman and decide to better themselves. Sometimes that means just trying to be a good person and a little braver, but every now and again it leads to someone else getting the idea to dress up and fight crime. Barbara Gordon is one such person and she’d go on to have one heck of a career. So who is she and what lies in store for her? Let’s find out!
Barbara Gordon, pending on the stories, is either the daughter of or niece turned adoptive daughter to James Gordon, the man who would be Police Commissioner of Gotham City. She would grow up being obsessed with Batman and when she learned that her father was secretly working with the masked vigilante, her obsession grew, demanding her dad enroll her into a variety of martial arts courses.
Barbara was always a smart kid, she’d graduate from college with honors before reaching adulthood all the while developing her fighting skills. While she attempted to join both the police force and the FBI, she’d end up rejected with all these skills to fight crime and nowhere to pursue them.
That would change one fateful night during the Million Dollar Masquerade Ball where all the richest and most influential people of Gotham would be at. Taking the design of her original character, Batgirl from her childhood fantasies, Barbara would fashion a costume to meet her father at the party to spite him. When she arrived though, the festivities were on hold as the place was being held up by super villain, Killer Moth and his gang. They had kidnapped Bruce Wayne and it was Barbara as Batgirl, no one knew who this masked hero was, giving chase.
While she was able to free Wayne, Killer Moth would get the better of her until Batman and Robin were able to come in and free her like she had for Wayne. This was it, this was the life Barbara wanted, superhero. While Batman did not approve of her at first, he would frequently show up and chastise her for her poor equipment. He would often send Robin to visit her with gifts of effective gadgetry to make sure if she was going to go against his wishes, she’d do it right. Eventually Batman realized Batgirl was not like many random vigilantes who would come out of the woodwork every now and again, he swore her in as a member of his team allowing her to do her own thing but still offering training when she wished.
Barbara would have many adventures solo and with Batman and Robin. She would become known as being part of the team and work with other superheroes as well. She would have a working and romantic relationship with Robin and the two were often seen working together sometimes more so than with Batman. When the Joker was trying to destroy her father mentally, he’d shoot Barbara causing her to become paraplegic requiring the assistance of a wheelchair for mobility.
This would not dissuade Barbara from fighting crime, she just became a bigger thorn in super villainy’s side. Taking to using her skills with computers and other technology, Barbara would become Oracle. A network for Batman and eventually most superheroes to have her in their earpiece so she could assist them in anything they needed. She would even create her own team of heroes, the Birds of Prey to help her enforce her own missions.
Slinging around money in a way that even Batman was impressed, Barbara was buying and selling buildings and cars to assist those who assisted her. The entire Justice League trusted Barbara with not just their superhero careers but their secret identities as well. In fact, if any of the criminal underworld were to find out that Joker was responsible for the retirement of Batgirl but the raise of Oracle, pretty sure Joker’s new residency would be one of Gotham’s cemeteries.
Frequently her Birds of Prey team was Black Canary and Huntress but other heroes would come and go as well. Few heroes knew that Barbara was Oracle but they trusted her even with that mystery. When Gotham was devastated by several disasters it was left a No Man’s Land by the government and only the citizens could save themselves. Barbara would have kids as her eyes and ears help her out. She would meet Cassandra Cain and realized this girl was a worthy heir to the Batgirl mantle and assist her in the job.
She would eventually leave Gotham once stability was restored. Her relocation was in part due to how Batman treated her during a massive gang war, often using her and then taking over her tech without her permission. She moved to Metropolis to restart herself and her team. She and Dick Grayson, formerly Robin and now Nightwing, would have an on and off again relationship until Dick would propose to Barbara which she would accept. When Dick is offered to travel the world for a year with Batman it’s Barbara who gives back the ring saying it’s okay. When he was gone, he’d left her the ring and a picture of them from their days as Batgirl and Robin promising to return.
One year after Dick and other heroes return from a year of absence, Barbara is working with a new Birds of Prey team and even works with Batman again. She must fight Spy Smasher for control of the Birds of Prey but is able to win. When Barbara learns that her best friend Dinah, the Black Canary is to marry Green Arrow, she tries to talk her out of it but ends up being her maid of honor.
Darkseid of Apokolips had discovered the Anti-Life Equation, a way to mind control others and places it on the internet. Alongside Mr. Terrific, Barbara would try to stop the spread of the equation but were only so successful. The criminal, The Calculator would create a villainous Unternet for villains and Barbara would become the main warrior against this, becoming the superhero for super villain cyber crimes.
When Batman is believed dead, Barbara moves back to Gotham to aide in the chaos Batman’s absence creates. While the Calculator would become Barbara’s opposite, his daughter Wendy would become Barbara’s apprentice as Oracle. She would also see that the mantle of Batgirl would pass from Cassandra Cain, looking for her own identity now, to Stephanie Brown, formerly Spoiler, becoming Batgirl who Barbara would stay in contact with.
During the Blackest Night, Barbara and her father must survive the terrors of the undead. Barbara is temporarily possessed by Deadman so he can help her save her father. The two are injured over the course of the attacks but are saved by Batman’s team and brought to their headquarters so that they can be tended to.
In the New 52, Barbara gains the ability to walk again and become Batgirl again after a period of time where she is semi-retired, it seems she never became Oracle in this down time. She deals with overcoming her concerns about returning to heroics after spending so long away from it. She’d move to the Burnside area of Gotham living with roommates and going through college while reestablishing herself as Batgirl.
There you have it folks! Barbara is one of my favorite characters of all time. I really loved her as Oracle since she was pretty much the next escalation in the superhuman community. She was so powerful that the super villains tried to make their own Oracle but just could never live up to her skill. Not sure if we’ll ever get Barbara as Oracle again but I know she shows up in things like the video games as such so at least there’s that. See you next time!
Detective Comics #359
Suicide Squad #23
Birds of Prey
Batgirl Vol. 3