With the new Batgirl about to make her debut and consensus that it is not Barbara Gordon, I thought I would share an BoP tale where Babs gained the use of her legs. The story was written by Terry Moore with art by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. Got to be good, right? A not very dial up friendly 13 and half pages from issues 47-50 of Birds of Prey.
This story comes from four of what I would call the "lost issues" of BoP. These run from Dixon's departure after issue 46 until issue 56 when Gail Simone took the Birds in a "Bold New Direction!" as the cover said. After Moore's run, Gilbert Hernandez took over for 6 issues (50-55).
Let's just say the topic of Barbara Gordon/Oracle walking again is a touchy one. Many articles, forum entries and blogs have been written about it over the years. Bluefall's meta on The Killing Joke is terrific and you should check that out. The debate is this: Should she be cured and return to the streets as Batgirl? Or should she remain paralyzed, the belief being that she has become much more than what she once was in her Oracle persona? Pick your weapons.
That's why I found this story so strange. Seriously, after 50 plus issues with Dixon and the knowledge that they were going to get a new writer (the news about Simone is in the back of issue 49) DC said to Terry Moore "Oh hey you want to let Babs walk? Sure go right ahead".
Don't get me wrong. I love Terry Moore. Strangers in Paradise? Love it. Kachoo + Francine 4Ever. But something is off about the tone here. And am I wrong? I mean isn't it strange that they went with this? Anyway, off we go.
Babs nabs an invite to a demo of some Lexcorp medical breakthrough. Look at Babs working out. Love it.
Dinah drops her off in DC and is ready to head out on her vacation.
Look at Babs' tricked out chair! And how cute is Dinah as drawn by Amanda Conner? And how cute a couple are they? Oh well.
So at the LexCorp conference Talia introduces Dr. Atticus Blackaver of Altavia. He introduces Madison, a 17 year old fellow Altavian who will be the guinea pig for his discovery, drumroll, The Chaotic Code! The girl clearly is a little uncomfortable and tries to catch the Babs' eye.
Now meanwhile Canary is outside getting kidnapped. I am not including that part of the story here. But just know that Amanda Conner does a "pissed off" face better than just about any artist alive and there is a lot of Dinah with that face. Pages and pages, really.
But back to the conference. After they inject Madison she cures a senator of her heart condition. A miracle. Babs is skeptical. So what better way to overcome that than to have Madison work her magic on Miss Gordon?
Well something has happened.
"Dinah, I need a minute?" What about "Hey Dinah, I can feel my legs. No really Dinah, it's a miracle."
Some thugs break into the conference and try and kidnap Madison. Wrong day, wrong place boys.
And despite the realization that this is probably short term Babs proceeds to basically say everything that you might imagine her to say if she was suddenly able to walk.
Also on this page is her saying "I don't want to go back. I can't. Not after I've felt this way. It's not fair." And my favorite "Life just gave me a kiss and reminded me that barriers can be shattered. I believed it once and now I know it." So what do you make of that? Is she referring to her becoming a superhero as Batgirl (mind you this is over a silhouette of her swinging through the air). Or is it a reference to her role as Oracle and being able to build a important fulfilling life after her shooting? Well, as you think about that, back to Babs, literally, on the run.
She calls Ted and gets a private plane to take them back to Gotham.
You really don't see much of Babs' ass in BoP. But you sure do in this arc. And you get a lot of Canary's too including ass cleavage in couple of shots. Jeez, I don't think even Benes showed that. Really Amanda.
Now the next page is interesting and I think captures some of the problems I have with this story.
You see, Barbara knows that this isn't going to last that long. And she knows that the bad guys are coming after them. And while it's funny to see Babs with her nail gazing and "What evs" look when Madison says she's tired to me it's the wrong note. I would think that Babara would be more intense. And who do you think she would call and tell that she can walk. Her dad? Dick? Maybe get call back Dinah? And do you think we could see those calls? Whoops, too late.
Madison offers to restore her again. Now think about this. Barbara has just had a terrific experience. She's walked for the first time in years. We saw her reactions. But Babs thinks and says no. She realizes that she probably won't survive it. In fact she now realizes how dangerous this might have been so she doesn't pursue it. Hmm.
Well at least she got a hold of Dinah. The plane lands and the Doctor boards to get Madison.
Oh Doctor you so underestimate this woman. I mean look at those gluts! (hah, you thought I was going to say ass, didn't you?)
Dinah steals a motorcycle and is off to save her gal.
But first she has to have a knock down cat fight with Talia who refers to Dinah at various times as "Blondie, Obnoxious Party Girl and White Trash." Well, you can certainly see where Damian gets his charm.
While Canary is battling Talia, Babs goes after the Doctor. Get'em Babs!
Madison's energy backfires on the Doctor and Talia. The Doctor dies. Talia just gets burned. Time to get out of here.
Cute, and that's the last shot of Babs' ass, promise. The story ends with Babs getting Madison into a special school where she'll be safe (you know if Sin had gone there ... well don't want to open that can here) but it ends with the girl getting flowers from Talia wishing her good luck.
Now here's the thing that kills me. There is never any discussion of this between Dinah and Babs. And this is friggin' Terry Moore. He has written, IMHO, so of the best scenes between two women that have appeared anywhere let alone in comics. You would think he would have chomped at the bit for a scene where Dinah asks Babs how she feels. Or how her experience has changed her. You know, what friends would talk about. But no. Nothing. Instead we get this in the next issue which despite having Moore and Conner listed on the outside is actually by Hernandez and Jones.
Huh? Would Dinah just say that after what happened last issue? Can't she make the connection and maybe see that Babs was maybe effected by what happened? And Christ Babs we just saw your ass for pages and pages, you are in great shape. You would have thought the editor would have caught this. But at this point she was probably focused on getting Gail ready for her run. Or maybe something happened with Moore?
And then the story goes on. And it is a ridiculous story involving an ape like robot. And the only reason they brought up Batgirl at the beginning is because the story has to do with the return of Killer Moth and if you don't know who he is you probably shouldn't have spent this much time reading a post about Barbara Gordon.