I miss Oracle.
There, I said it. I said it. I miss her. While she was a victim of the 90’s girlfriends in fridges phenomenon, she became so much more. She was a symbol that showed a disability does not preclude you from being a super hero. She was a strong and incredibly intelligent resource for Batman, smarter than even he was in many aspects.
Seeing that in Rebirth she was going to be back to take up the Batmantle, and that some crazy surgery in South Africa was the healing joke (ha!), I was very disappointed. We all knew Batman wasn’t staying broken when the whole Bane thing happened, but Barbara was actually a better superhero as Oracle, disability be damned.
So, after saying all that, god damn do I love this post Rebirth story. Seeing her after she’s established herself again, and this time traveling = new adventures to be had.
Batgirl Vol. 1: Beyond Burnside (DC Comics)
There’s a certain gravity to Oracle that comes with all the trauma she’s been through. This Barbara–new 52 retcon sketchyness be damned–is still incredibly lighthearted. If I had a girl, this is the kind of superhero book I’d hand to her–one with a strong female lead who doesn’t need Batman and Robin to shine, but is still learning, so moments like Bats cutting her grapple line so she doesnt break her arm?
That’s her being a kid, and has nothing to do with her gender.
Also, I think we can all agree, the new Batsuit is kickass. As a teenager in the 90’s I was in love with the girls in the chunky doc martens, so maybe I’m biased. Still, a gymnastic, super smart, fashionable, and resolute hero, who can go toe to to with the entire Batfamily, AND out-think them on a computer? This is a hero to hold up and say YES. THIS IS HOW YOU MAKE A FEMALE CHARACTER.
Batgirl: Beyond Burnside picks up right after The Batgirl of Burnside leaves off: with Barbara out and about in the world–Japan in this case–learning how to be herself again. She’s in Japan trying to track down an old (north of 100) hero, to see about learning what she can from her.
The obvious parallels to Bruce Wayne’s own vision quest in Asia is there, but Babs knows that traveling is supposed to be fun too:
My Oracle-is-bae diatribe up above aside, the reason why Babs is fun to read without the chair and computer? She’s distinctly lacking in tragedy. All the Bat-family has this heavy pathos weighing them down–be it family deaths, their own deaths, or failures in their crime-fighting career. Barbara is a young and hopeful breath of fresh air in this dour group. Her costume is colorful and attractive, her outlook is positive, and even when she’s matched up against the other cheerful member of the fam, Nightwing, she even outshines him.
This collection once again balances Barbara as a girl and a hero; not some made up sexualized version of a girl, an honest girl who has feelings and can kick ass–in this case all across Japan, and in one memorable instance, in a crashing plane.
I think Batgirl is a good read for everyone, a great read for little girls who want to see that being female and happy does not mean you don’t have any heroes, and for anyone who wants to see how much fun a Bat book can be.