I'm taking a moment to post this because I have a lovely copy and people should know! (People should know! They should know!) that Batman's not always been a dick. (Also, he looks really great here, but that's Don Newton.) He used to be decent, even towards the women he worked with! Especially them, even! Babs was great, strong and adult! It's true! I love Bronze Age Babs. Hate that she got de-aged into less than an adult who apparently has to fight with Batman to prove herself, don't care for she and Dick dating, nor for the way she's currently written, but this is kind of nice, below. Please see the Bronze Age for more information.
Also, there is gorgeous art here...
The Assassination of Batgirl
In the issue before this,
Barbara rescued a young child, and had an assassination attempt made on her life by a villain called General Scarr. Who, you know, has a scar. And his assassin, The Cormorant. Also, please note the idea of the backup story. Detective comics and the Batverse doesn't have to be so... broken up. It kind of seems to me like now we've got the boys' club (Dick, Tim and Damian and I guess, Alfred) in one set of titles and then the others over here, (according to DC, possibly catfighting for the cowl. Greeeeeaaaat, DC. Thanks! We female fans really appreciate your word choices!): Oracle, Cass, BOP, Gotham City Sirens (This all-new series features the bad girls of Gotham City!)(http://www.newsarama.com/comics/090323-dc-june-2009-solicitations.html).
Batgirl's thrown momentarily thrown off her game, but Batman helps her overcome. And he does, and she does (Spoiler Alert) even with one arm in a sling.
Story by Cary Burkett, Art by Don Newton and Dan Adkins. From Detective 492.
So here's an example re: how the people in the Batverse act when they think Batgirl is dead. Upset. Alfred's crying. It would be nice to see Babs respond to Bruce's 'death' and Dick's grief. They are all preeeetty important in each other's lives and as Oracle, she's the most powerful woman in the Batverse and one of the (three, maybe?) most powerful in the DCU. Instead, even she and her father, in her own book, are not talking about Batman. Hmm.
(Yes, Commissioner Gordon knew her secret identity. Someday I may post about how he found out, but I really dislike the art in that particular issue.)
Next page. Look! See how Batman speaks to her with respect. This Barbara wasn't an almost child who had to try to wrench respect from Batman. They were adult colleagues. I love Batman's almost water-cooleresque 'What! But you can't mean to give up your Batgirl career--
Next page, second panel. Batman processes, and treats her like an equal: It could happen to anybody in our line of work. What now?
But he's still a little scary...
He ends up captured by Scarr, which will of course, be the very thing to bring Batgirl back on the job.
I absolutely can't believe the outfit she has on while she lounges at home. Blue harlequin slacks and green feathery top? Really?
Some pre-Oracle detective work...
Babs doesn't like hunting! And she will take you down with a one-punch if she doesn't buy what you're selling, buster!
Next page! Nice legclamp, Batman. He's quite the escape artist, but we already knew that, didn't we?
Batman: Yeah! I totally meant to be captured, Sucker! But Scarr attacks, with tiny planes! And tiny tanks! Real ammo, and Batman can't keep dodging them forever!
I have to admit, the first time I read this story, I was like, come on! Get over it, Batgirl! This can't be the first time somebody's tried to kill you. But you know, it IS the reason for the whole story. Batgirl deals with personal fear and wins.
But Batman needs her help, and she also flashes back to a conversation with her father about his feelings as a public servant and police officer. It's a really, really nice conversation, in which Gordon talks about and compares his own motivations with what he imagines must be the Batman's motivations. Not appearing in this post.
They're always more afraid of you than you are of them! Like bears, or bobcats. Or Cormorants. I love the "Mister, you make me sick!" Followed by a Babs one-smack.
But General Scarr can't begin to believe a woman laid him low. INCONCEIVABLE! You were just a way to get to Batman! And then the last panel's goofily sweet.
When I originally posted this, I had a nice conversation with someone over the concept of maid and knight, which is a repeated theme, in my opinion, with some of the writers. I certainly do like their friendship, back then: Batman and BG's. It's not a romantic relationship, but I wonder if sometimes, certain aspects are written to echo the concept of courtly love. (I could be way off on the courtly love bit, but I think it kind of is what the 'Dark-Night Maid' reference refers to in the above story.)
Sometimes described as an experience between erotic desire and spiritual attainment that now seems contradictory, "a love at once illicit and morally elevating, passionate and disciplined, humiliating and exalting, human and transcendent".
It also involves the sublimation of desires, in exchange for channeling one's energy into socially useful behavior and the concept of a knight suspended between happiness and despair.
Sounds like Batman to me, or at least something he'd go for. More mission-based, and as much Gotham City as the love, but in a way, wouldn't the police commissioner's daughter, who's fighting crime under a name taken from the city's hero, also represent the city itself? Maybe? Possibly I'm now just making it up as I go.
I'm definitely in some stage of Batman grief, so if it sounds crazy, just chalk it up to withdrawal and a little bit of anger over the way the women are being treated in the Batverse right now and the weird men versus women thing I think I may be picking up on in the DCU overall lately. See the JLA. And why can't we all just get along?
And look, a red-headed maid.
(The above scans are from a 51 page comic, never reprinted, probably never likely to be reprinted, since Babs was retconned much younger, which in my opinion reduced her, reduced Batman, and may have helped set a standard for mysogynistic batdickery.) I posted this once before, but this is an edited version. Also, I wasn't very good at cropping back then, so it seems.