ByMara Mullikin, writer at
I'm an aspiring writer, filmmaker, actress and werewolf.
Mara Mullikin

Alan Moore's The Killing Joke stirred a cauldron full of controversy when it was first published in 1988. Most of it, if not all of it was directed towards Barbara Gordon being crippled, stripped and exploited as a pawn by the Joker to drive Commissioner Gordon insane.

Some critics argued that Barbara's mistreatment was sadistic and overzealous. Famed comic writer Gail Simone included Barbara's paralysis in her list called, "Major Female Characters that had been Killed, Mutilated and Depowered." Even 60s Batman co-star Yvonne Craig (Batgirl) disapproved of Barbara's brutal role in the story. Moore had this to say regarding the matter:

"I asked DC if they had any problem with me crippling Barbara Gordon - who was Batgirl at the time - and if I remember, I spoke to Len Wein, who was our editor on the project ... [He] said, 'Yeah, okay, cripple the bitch.' It was probably one of the areas where they should've reined me in, but they didn't."

None the less, beside the story's infamous blemish there were many readers and other critics who praised and enjoyed the story. Noted director Tim Burton once said this was the only comic he ever relished reading. And despite Barbara's harsh handling, there came a silver lining in this incident.

In the 23# of Suicide Squad (which is being made into a film in case you haven't heard) Oracle was first introduced. In this issue, Barbara accepted she couldn't quite do the same kind of a superhero work anymore. So, instead, she devoted her energy and intelligence to cultivating a powerful computer system that collected and harnessed copious amounts of information. She renamed herself Oracle and continued to be a resourceful ally to Batman and formed her own alliance with The Black Canary and The Huntress, otherwise known as The Birds of Prey.

Despite the character's strong personality, appeal, intimidating I.Q., and being a skilled martial artist, Oracle's response hasn't been entirely positive. Many fans complained that Barbara's mobility should have been restored (before it finally happened in 2011). Yet, the fact Barbara's paralysis didn't stop her from fighting crime, and arguably, she's just as competent (if not more so) as Oracle as when she was Batgirl, speaks volume to her identity.

What people most appreciate about Oracle is at her most vulnerable state she didn't budge and continued her life. And through these new trials and tribulations that came with her condition, she undoubtedly proved to her peers and enemies (especially the Joker) that even when she's down, there's no stopping her. Despite returning to her Batgirl roots, fans will always remember Barbara as having two identities... Batgirl AND Oracle.


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