Favorite Comic book character, when you were young vs adulthood.

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Batgirl III
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Re: Favorite Comic book character, when you were young vs adulthood.

Post by Batgirl III » Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:59 am

The Batgirl name has given to five different fictional characters over the years, although generally the only truly iconic Batgirl has been Barbara Gordon, who debuted in 1967. The sort of shameful secret origin of the Barbara Gordon Batgirl was as a ratings stunt for the 1960’s Batman TV show… Yes, the one with Adam West, Burt Ward, BIFF!, and POW! Yvonne Craig played her in the show and she was every bit the campy, over-the-top equal of Adam West and the rest of the cast. But, as much love as I have for Craig's performance in that role, my focus on the “real” Batgirl, from the comic books.

In 1967, two legendary talents Gardner Fox (writer) and Carmine Infantino (artist) were assigned to Detective Comics #359 and its cover story entitled “The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl!” However, almost every source agrees that she was created by then DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz. Barbara Gordon was the daughter of Gotham City police commissioner James Gordon, a young women in her mid- to late-twenties (comic book characters and ages are a weird thing to put it simply) with a doctorate, a brown belt in jujitsu, and a job as head of Gotham City Public Library. She designs a “Batwoman” costume for a masquerade ball, coincidentally happens across the attempted kidnapping her father’s friend Bruce Wayne, and swoops in to rescue him. Shortly afterward, the media dubs her Batgirl and she launches a crime fighting career of her own.

Barbara Gordon initially seems to be another hackneyed stereotype of the distaff counterpart to the male hero being given less respect (she’s Batgirl, not Batwoman; the male hero came first; the male hero is more popular; etc.) Plus, her civilian identity seems so stereotypical as well: The mousy librarian, why not just make her a kindergarten teacher!? But that all ignores some of the serious female empowerment emerging in these comics well ahead of the feminist movement that wouldn't take off until the Seventies. Her doctorate and her brown belt ain’t nothing. Moreover, by the Mid-1970's Barbara Gordon would run for and win a seat in Congress.

My introduction to the character truly came about in 1988 or 1989, when I found a paperback reprint of a three-issue Batman comic book miniseries The Untold Legend of the Batman. Written by Len Wein, with art from John Bryne and Jim Aparo. The Untold Legend was meant to be the definitive origin of not only the Batman, but the vast majority of his supporting characters and rogue’s gallery as well. Now, this miniseries was written pre-Crisis, but unlike Superman, Wonder Woman, or so many other DC Universe heroes, the origins of the various Batman Family members was little changed by The Crisis on Infinite Earths and it wouldn’t be until some twenty years later that I ever realized Untold Legend wasn’t “current” continuity.

Batgirl isn’t even a supporting character in the Untold Legend, as by that point in the character’s long history she was in Washington D.C. and not Gotham City, so her origins are told in a series of flashbacks from the point-of-view of Commissioner Gordon. This book and various other appearances of the character in the random comics I was picking up around this point cemented my opinion of Batgirl as my favorite superhero. I was still very young and proper comic book collecting and reading whole story-arcs and series runs was a few years off… but, it didn’t matter. Batgirl was my favorite superhero.

Due note, feminist critics and fellow geeks, that I don’t say she was my favorite superheroine, or favorite female superhero, or favorite DC superhero. No. Batgirl was and remains my favorite superhero. Period. Superman? Wolverine? Spider-Man? The Batman? Nope. Batgirl is my favorite superhero. My love for Barbara Gordon is so strong that many of the other Batgirls over the years are also among my personal top ten favorite heroes.

She’s smart, she’s witty, she’s brave. She wears the symbol of the bat, but her identity was self-created and not bestowed on her by Bruce. The Batman treats her as a peer and a partner in the war on crime, the same way he would an independent male hero, like Superman or the Flash, and not a former protégé (Nightwing) or a sidekick (Robin). In the post-Crisis history, her birth parents may be dead but that’s not her motivation for crime-fighting, and her relationship with uncle/adoptive-father commissioner Gordon is warm, genuine, and healthy. She’s Batman without the angst, Nightwing without the “daddy issues,” and unlike 90% of women in comics she’s no one’s girlfriend, handmaiden, or sidekick.

This isn’t to say the character hasn’t been without flaws. A comic book character with five decades of near constant appearances in dozens of titles, spin-offs into numerous other media, and hundreds of different writers taking their turn with the character is going to result in some missteps over the years. But, just as Spider-Man fans were willing to stick with old webhead through disasters like the Clone Saga and One More Day, I’ve been able to ride out the worst "Women in Refrigerators" moments that have occurred over the years.

I do like the post-Rebirth iteration of Barbara Gordon more than The New 52 version, but not nearly as much as the Post-Crisis/Pre-Flashpoint version. But it is the Post-Crisis Bronze Age era of the character that is, to me, the definitive take on the character.
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Re: Favorite Comic book character, when you were young vs adulthood.

Post by Ken » Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:35 pm

Batgirl III wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:59 am
Plus, her civilian identity seems so stereotypical as well: The mousy librarian, why not just make her a kindergarten teacher!?
Honestly, having a mother, sister, and one of my best friends (who got into the field while working for my mom) who are or were librarians, I have to say making Barbara a kindergarten teacher would have been a disservice.

The breadth of information that librarians need (and by librarians, I don't mean the clerks in the front who check out books, I mean the people who have to order and weed books; work the reference desk, etc.) is so extensive that it was a drop in the bucket to accept that Barbara could be, say an Egyptian bibliophile, or Batman's information specialist Oracle.
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Re: Favorite Comic book character, when you were young vs adulthood.

Post by Batgirl III » Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:51 pm

I know what librarians really do, you know what librarians really do... But as a surface level stereotype, librarian is very a feminine career.
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Re: Favorite Comic book character, when you were young vs adulthood.

Post by RUSCHE » Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:57 pm

Batgirl III wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:59 am
The Batgirl name has given to five different fictional characters over the years, although generally the only truly iconic Batgirl has been Barbara Gordon, who debuted in 1967. The sort of shameful secret origin of the Barbara Gordon Batgirl was as a ratings stunt for the 1960’s Batman TV show… Yes, the one with Adam West, Burt Ward, BIFF!, and POW! Yvonne Craig played her in the show and she was every bit the campy, over-the-top equal of Adam West and the rest of the cast. But, as much love as I have for Craig's performance in that role, my focus on the “real” Batgirl, from the comic books.

In 1967, two legendary talents Gardner Fox (writer) and Carmine Infantino (artist) were assigned to Detective Comics #359 and its cover story entitled “The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl!” However, almost every source agrees that she was created by then DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz. Barbara Gordon was the daughter of Gotham City police commissioner James Gordon, a young women in her mid- to late-twenties (comic book characters and ages are a weird thing to put it simply) with a doctorate, a brown belt in jujitsu, and a job as head of Gotham City Public Library. She designs a “Batwoman” costume for a masquerade ball, coincidentally happens across the attempted kidnapping her father’s friend Bruce Wayne, and swoops in to rescue him. Shortly afterward, the media dubs her Batgirl and she launches a crime fighting career of her own.

Barbara Gordon initially seems to be another hackneyed stereotype of the distaff counterpart to the male hero being given less respect (she’s Batgirl, not Batwoman; the male hero came first; the male hero is more popular; etc.) Plus, her civilian identity seems so stereotypical as well: The mousy librarian, why not just make her a kindergarten teacher!? But that all ignores some of the serious female empowerment emerging in these comics well ahead of the feminist movement that wouldn't take off until the Seventies. Her doctorate and her brown belt ain’t nothing. Moreover, by the Mid-1970's Barbara Gordon would run for and win a seat in Congress.

My introduction to the character truly came about in 1988 or 1989, when I found a paperback reprint of a three-issue Batman comic book miniseries The Untold Legend of the Batman. Written by Len Wein, with art from John Bryne and Jim Aparo. The Untold Legend was meant to be the definitive origin of not only the Batman, but the vast majority of his supporting characters and rogue’s gallery as well. Now, this miniseries was written pre-Crisis, but unlike Superman, Wonder Woman, or so many other DC Universe heroes, the origins of the various Batman Family members was little changed by The Crisis on Infinite Earths and it wouldn’t be until some twenty years later that I ever realized Untold Legend wasn’t “current” continuity.

Batgirl isn’t even a supporting character in the Untold Legend, as by that point in the character’s long history she was in Washington D.C. and not Gotham City, so her origins are told in a series of flashbacks from the point-of-view of Commissioner Gordon. This book and various other appearances of the character in the random comics I was picking up around this point cemented my opinion of Batgirl as my favorite superhero. I was still very young and proper comic book collecting and reading whole story-arcs and series runs was a few years off… but, it didn’t matter. Batgirl was my favorite superhero.

Due note, feminist critics and fellow geeks, that I don’t say she was my favorite superheroine, or favorite female superhero, or favorite DC superhero. No. Batgirl was and remains my favorite superhero. Period. Superman? Wolverine? Spider-Man? The Batman? Nope. Batgirl is my favorite superhero. My love for Barbara Gordon is so strong that many of the other Batgirls over the years are also among my personal top ten favorite heroes.

She’s smart, she’s witty, she’s brave. She wears the symbol of the bat, but her identity was self-created and not bestowed on her by Bruce. The Batman treats her as a peer and a partner in the war on crime, the same way he would an independent male hero, like Superman or the Flash, and not a former protégé (Nightwing) or a sidekick (Robin). In the post-Crisis history, her birth parents may be dead but that’s not her motivation for crime-fighting, and her relationship with uncle/adoptive-father commissioner Gordon is warm, genuine, and healthy. She’s Batman without the angst, Nightwing without the “daddy issues,” and unlike 90% of women in comics she’s no one’s girlfriend, handmaiden, or sidekick.

This isn’t to say the character hasn’t been without flaws. A comic book character with five decades of near constant appearances in dozens of titles, spin-offs into numerous other media, and hundreds of different writers taking their turn with the character is going to result in some missteps over the years. But, just as Spider-Man fans were willing to stick with old webhead through disasters like the Clone Saga and One More Day, I’ve been able to ride out the worst "Women in Refrigerators" moments that have occurred over the years.

I do like the post-Rebirth iteration of Barbara Gordon more than The New 52 version, but not nearly as much as the Post-Crisis/Pre-Flashpoint version. But it is the Post-Crisis Bronze Age era of the character that is, to me, the definitive take on the character.
I loved the fact when Batman absolutely needed accurate information in the fastest way possible, Barbara Gordon was his go to individual. I had mixed feelings when the powers to be had Joker shoot her . What they did with her after truly showed he versatility and immense intelligence.

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Re: Favorite Comic book character, when you were young vs adulthood.

Post by Shock » Tue Jul 03, 2018 2:34 pm

Batgirl III wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:59 am
In the post-Crisis history, her birth parents may be dead but that’s not her motivation for crime-fighting, and her relationship with uncle/adoptive-father commissioner Gordon is warm, genuine, and healthy.
Is that still true? I don't remember this being mentioned in the last 15 years or so, even before the New 52.

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Re: Favorite Comic book character, when you were young vs adulthood.

Post by Batgirl III » Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:36 pm

Barbara’s parents are Roger and Thelma Gordon, and she is Jim Gordon's niece/adopted daughter in post-Crisis canon. In every other main continuity (pre-Crisis, Post-Flashpoint, and Rebirth) she’s Commissioner Gordon’s biological daughter.
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Re: Favorite Comic book character, when you were young vs adulthood.

Post by Ares » Tue Jul 03, 2018 6:02 pm

My understanding is that the reason they needed to make Barbara Jim's adopted daughter was because Frank Miller inexplicably retconned a bit in his Batman Year One, including Jim's first child being born when he moved to Gotham and being a son. In order for Barbara to be in her 20's around the time of her Batgirl debut, both her dad and Bruce would be aged quite a bit.

Granted, this is the same Frank who decided to make Selena Kyle a prostitute, and the problem could have been avoided with Barbara already being in her early/mid-teens when the story started and her being off to boarding school or something.

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Re: Favorite Comic book character, when you were young vs adulthood.

Post by Woodclaw » Thu Jul 05, 2018 2:05 pm

Batgirl III wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:36 pm
Barbara’s parents are Roger and Thelma Gordon, and she is Jim Gordon's niece/adopted daughter in post-Crisis canon. In every other main continuity (pre-Crisis, Post-Flashpoint, and Rebirth) she’s Commissioner Gordon’s biological daughter.
The worst part is that, at some point, another author felt the need to "fix" this explaining that Jim Gordon had sex with his sister-in-law, making Barbara both is biological and adopted daughter... so sad.
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Re: Favorite Comic book character, when you were young vs adulthood.

Post by Batgirl III » Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:36 pm

Woodclaw wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 2:05 pm
Batgirl III wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:36 pm
Barbara’s parents are Roger and Thelma Gordon, and she is Jim Gordon's niece/adopted daughter in post-Crisis canon. In every other main continuity (pre-Crisis, Post-Flashpoint, and Rebirth) she’s Commissioner Gordon’s biological daughter.
The worst part is that, at some point, another author felt the need to "fix" this explaining that Jim Gordon had sex with his sister-in-law, making Barbara both is biological and adopted daughter... so sad.
We can’t have anyone with a happy home life in comics. Especially not a Bat Book!
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Re: Favorite Comic book character, when you were young vs adulthood.

Post by Woodclaw » Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:46 pm

When I was a kind I was the slowpoke of the school, but I had one thing going for me: I never gave a damn about it. Unsurprisingly I always liked characters in the "old and tough warhorse" category, starting with Ironhide from the original Transformers cartoon.

If I have to limit myself to the comic I'd say that my favorites that withstood the test of time are Ben Grimm, Clint Barton, Jim Rhodes, Kitty Pryde and Jen Walters. Janet Van Dyne and Steve Rogers is kind of there too, but it's often a case of "love the character, hate the execution".
When I was younger I think that Piotr Rapuntin would have been there too... but thing went awry somewhere along the line.

I got into DC only later in life so there's not much in the "young" category. Pretty much favorite here include Nightwing, Arsenal (at least before the whole Terror Titans thing), Barbara Gordon and Stephanie Brown (as Oracle and Batgirl), Stargirl & S.T.R.I.P.E. (I just love tha family dynamic), Wildcat and Jay Garrick. The Wonder Sisters (Diana and Donna) are often a case of "short of one good writer".
I'd like to give a bit of shout-out to one of my favorite comic book couple Ralph and Sue Dibny.
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Re: Favorite Comic book character, when you were young vs adulthood.

Post by Woodclaw » Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:47 pm

Batgirl III wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:36 pm
Woodclaw wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 2:05 pm
Batgirl III wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:36 pm
Barbara’s parents are Roger and Thelma Gordon, and she is Jim Gordon's niece/adopted daughter in post-Crisis canon. In every other main continuity (pre-Crisis, Post-Flashpoint, and Rebirth) she’s Commissioner Gordon’s biological daughter.
The worst part is that, at some point, another author felt the need to "fix" this explaining that Jim Gordon had sex with his sister-in-law, making Barbara both is biological and adopted daughter... so sad.
We can’t have anyone with a happy home life in comics. Especially not a Bat Book!
That's not the problem. The problem is that this recks on unnecessary fix.

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Re: Favorite Comic book character, when you were young vs adulthood.

Post by L-Space » Thu Jul 05, 2018 8:53 pm

As a kid my favorites were pretty much Superman and Spider-Man. As I got older my appreciation for Superman waned, alongside most DC characters (I was more a Marvel guy until recently), but I regained my appreciation for Superman and he is one of my favorite DC characters alongside The Flash (both Barry and Wally), Booster Gold, Aquaman, and JLU the Question.

Spider-man has stayed a constant favorite throughout my life and tops the list as my all time favorite super hero. Other honorable Marvel mentions would Ben Grimm, Hawkeye, and Thor.

And though they're not comic characters, All-Might and Izuku Midoriya, from My Hero Academia, are two of my favorite superhero characters too.
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Re: Favorite Comic book character, when you were young vs adulthood.

Post by Ares » Thu Jul 05, 2018 9:06 pm

L-Space wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 8:53 pm
And though they're not comic characters, All-Might and Izuku Midoriya, from My Hero Academia, are two of my favorite superhero characters too.
Image

It is kind of interesting that the older I get, the more idealistic my favorite heroes are.

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Re: Favorite Comic book character, when you were young vs adulthood.

Post by Batgirl III » Thu Jul 05, 2018 9:11 pm

L-Space wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 8:53 pm
And though they're not comic characters, All-Might and Izuku Midoriya, from My Hero Academia, are two of my favorite superhero characters too.
Image
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Re: Favorite Comic book character, when you were young vs adulthood.

Post by Ares » Thu Jul 05, 2018 9:25 pm

Batgirl III wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 9:11 pm
L-Space wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 8:53 pm
And though they're not comic characters, All-Might and Izuku Midoriya, from My Hero Academia, are two of my favorite superhero characters too.
Image
These two guys:

Image

My Hero Academia is a manga that is basically a love-letter to American comics. It's basically the kind of world Prof. X is trying to create, where 80% of the world have superpowers, and kids can go to school to receive training in their powers to be superheroes. The main story is about the world's number 1 hero, All Might, training and passing on his legacy to a new hero, Izuku Midoriya.

All Might is basically if you took Captain America, added in a bit of Captain Marvel (Billy) and Batman (Adam West) personality wise, and gave him the powers of the Hulk that ran on Willpower instead of anger. Midoriya is basically a hybrid of Billy Batson and Peter Parker, being very kindhearted, a huge superhero nerd, and just wants to help people, albeit with the kind of confidence issues you see first appearance Peter Parker have.

They're both truly good individuals that just want to help people.

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