In addition to my commission from Adam Hughes I got this adorable piece from Bill Walko.
Yesterday was John Ostrander’s 62nd birthday and there is no way I can let it go by without noting it.
John Ostrander is responsible for a lot of great comics I love - Suicide Squad is at the top of the list - but more importantantly he is responsible for two of the most kick ass women in the DCU, Oracle and Amanda Waller.
He didn’t create Barbara Gordon, of course. That was Carmine Infantino. And he isn’t responsible for putting her in a wheelchair; that was Alan Moore and DC editorial. What he is responsible for, with his wife Kim Yale, is looking at the character in a new way and creating the persona of Oracle.
While other editors had viewed Barbara Gordon as excess, unwanted baggage on the way to the “adult” comic world of the Dark Knight, he and Kim saw Barbara Gordon, now crippled and without a place in the DCU, as a smart, computer-savvy asset. Oracle is now one of the most famous female characters in DC. Last year, when I ran a tournament to name the “Most Kick-Ass DC Woman” the title was won, to the surprise of many, by Barbara Gordon as Oracle. It delighted me that John stopped by the blog and left a note on it.
Oracle got her start in the Suicide Squad working for another of John’s creations, Amanda Waller.
Just as Oracle offers a different face for female superheroes, so does Amanda Waller. A woman of color and size, Amanda Waller stands out from the sea of thin white women in comics. She’s not a great character, however, because of how she looks, but because of who she is — a tough, take no shit patriot who can and will stop or destroy anything that stands in the way of her plans. She’s so well defined that the mere mention of her name creates a sense of what she’ll bring to a story or how she’ll interact with a character.
So thanks John Ostrander. Thanks for your great writing and thanks for creating female characters who aren’t like every one else and, of course, kick ass.
One of my favorite portraits of Barbara Gordon as Oracle by the talented 89g.
Yes I know there are handles. I’m ignoring them for prettiness.
Thank you for all your work, but thank you in particular for one of the best pages featuring Oracle ever. From JLA Classified #14
I saw someone write an interesting piece recently where she pointed out that Barbara is amost never portrayed as Oracle in other media (I think Arkham Asylum was the first time!), with the creators almost always choosing to use her as Batgirl despite having the ability to use Cass or Steph.
Even the Brave and the Bold cartoon, which isn't set in a linear timeline and has characters like Dick Grayson being around the same age as Jaime Reyes, still uses Babs as Oracle. Hell, Babs had to be removed from Gail Simone's Birds of Prey episode for that very reason.
Do you think there may be a certain element of ableism in the repeated use of the Batgirl identity over Oracle?
Arkham Asylum was not the first time that Oracle appeared in other media. Barbara Gordon as Oracle was the lead character in the “Birds of Prey” TV show which is, other than the 1960s TV show, the most prominent and widely viewed portrayal of the character. Additionally the show was released on DVD as part of the promotion around the release of “The Dark Knight”. Oracle has also appeared in Kids comics (Superfriends) and in DC board and card games including Heroclix.
The issue of her appearing in animated shows such as JLU and “Brave and the Bold” was addressed by Gail Simone who mentioned it being a rights issue. Those rights could be potentially due to the Bop show.
So given that Oracle was the focus of a network show, I’m not sure I’d say there is ableism at play but more Silver/Bronze ism. DC merchandising seems to be tied to the Silver and Bronze age incarnations of characters. That’s why you see has Hal instead of Guy, Kyle, or John. And Barry instead of Wally or Bart.And Barbara instead of Cass or Steph. Of course this also means you see all white characters as well. Chris Sims says it all in his piece on nostalgia and white washing.
One place where Barbara won’t be appearing as Batgirl is the new DCU Online game. Multiple Beta testers have confirmed the Batgirl in the game is Cassandra Cain.
Update: I got several responses to this one. One reader noted that Oracle is also in the DCU Online game as a guide, much as she was in “Arkham Asylum”. I had heard that too so thanks for confirming.
Also reader Brendan notes regarding Oracle not being in the JLU episode that Simone penned, because of moratorium on supporting Bat-characters because of “The Batman” which had just started up. Hadn’t heard that one although I know WB does put restrictions on where and Bat characters appear as that came up during the “Birds of Prey” live action show.
The original questioner says that the “Batman Brave and the Bold” director Ben Jones has said there is “absolutely no restriction” on using Oracle. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to see Oracle in it before it ends.
There’s lots of news on the Batfamily front today courtesy of Grant Morrison who talks to DC’s The Source about what’s coming up in Batman, Inc.
“And waiting in the wings are team-ups with Chief-Man-of-Bats, Batgirl and a mind-blowing CGI adventure with Oracle, as piece by piece, we learn the secrets of Batman Inc. and find out what Bruce is REALLY up to!”
A team-up with Batgirl sounds fun. I think. I hope it doesn’t take place in an English boarding school, where Bruce had plans to send her, unless Squire is there with her. That would be awesome.
But the CGI adventure with Oracle? Haven’t we seen Babs be in cyberspace before? This must be part of what we saw in the Return of Batman one-shot as seen below.
I also assume this is part of the outcome of “The Death of Oracle” arc going on in Birds of Prey. For now, I’ll just say I’m happy to have Oracle getting some attention. And speaking of that, earlier this week Comics Alliance layed out an argument that Grant Morrison should write a Barbara Gordon series. I don’t agree (as you’ll see) but it’s worth a read.
What do you think? Excited or not?
If you want to see where things might be headed look below.
They get interrupted so we don’t get an answer.
A sweet manip of Babs and Dick from Ciro1984
This is it. The final round. 32 women have competed and it is down to two. It’s time to make your choice: which DC Woman is more kick ass? Oracle/Barbara Gordon or Wonder Woman. Poll closes at 7PM EST.