I’m a massive fan of the Batman comics. I’m also disabled. You can imagine my delight then, when, after first becoming interested in the caped crusaders exploits at age 15, I realised there was a disabled character. Not only that, but a main character, not only that, but a cool main character!
Barbara Gordon, the Batgirl who, after an altercation with the Joker (which lead into the events of The Killing Joke, classic!) was shot and paralysed. To my 15-year-old self she was spectacular! Beautiful, smart, funny and, most importantly and in so many ways, still a superhero in her own right.
Because Oracle wasn’t just a name given to her in vain. She was the oracle of the Batman family. Constantly working behind the scenes as an information broker, connecting dots alongside Batman, Nightwing, Robin and, of course, her primary operative, Black Canary. And offering to lend a compassionate ear in times of despair. And let’s not forget, forging and maintaining ties to superheroes both overseas and spread across America.
All this while maintaining a mainstream job and keeping her dual life secret: the girl deserves a medal!
But seriously, the character was the heart of Batman Inc. An incredibly important and useful cog in the bat-family wheel. Which is perhaps why it’s so devastating that, back in 2011, with the launch of the New 52, DC decided to magically cure Barbara, reintroducing her into the role of Batgirl and ignoring Oracle as if she never existed!
(Actually, she may have never existed. The New 52 are meant to reboot the series, from issue 1 onwards. But if that’s the case, where’d Bruce’s kids come from, and why’s Jokers face still cut off? I apologise, I missed quite a few issues…)
The how of this doesn’t interest me, more it’s the why? DC decided to reboot the franchise, but why does that mean that Barbara is less relevant as a wheelchair user? In fact, in the current p/c-crazy, overtly equal, society, I would’ve thought that a disabled character is more relevant?
To simply remove her disability seems both abrupt and a little insulting. As a disabled person, I feel like DC are saying that the character only has merit if she has legs! But to remove the role of Oracle completely is downright rude!!!
Ignore the disabled element for a moment, Oracle was the heart of Batman, she was the eyes and ears of them all! She was the person who provided emergency backup when it was needed, she was the only person aside from Alfred who was willing to stand up to Bruce and her technical support was invaluable!
Batman needs Oracle, and comics in general need more, valid, disabled characters.