Babes, Bugs, and Banter: the tale of Babs Gordon and Ted Kord
Back at S_D 1.0, mishy_dishy asked about the relationship between Babs and Ted, and since I really only need the flimsiest of excuses to post about Oracle, I put together a post to explore the (nearly) complete history of the Gordon/Kord relationship, with lots of pretty pictures. Time and the Great Disaster having come and gone, gotham_girl has recently echoed that request, so I have raided the archive and unearthed it once again.
Our story actually starts way back in the very first issue of BoP proper. Babs has sent Dinah on a cruise for a little sunscreen and espionage (incidentally, I can't believe how freaking cool Dinah's outfit was back then), and hangs up with her agent to discover that she has new mail.
Interesting side note, it's not clear that either of them knows the gender of the other at this point, but that's not stopping BB from flirting.
Anyway, ignoring that Dixon apparently doesn't know the difference between "mail" and "instant messaging," Babs has a fair number of these conversations over the course of the next few issues, while the lettercols make wild, quirky and frequently absurd guesses as to Bumblebeeb's true identity.
Most of said conversations are sweet and friendly, as when BB comforts Babs when Dinah is in danger.
"Not officially." Snerk. Way to protect your secret identity there, Oracle.
You know, for a guy who claims to think homosexuality doesn't belong in comics, Dixon writes a hell of a lot of really really gay scenes. Her "heart is endangered" when Dinah's in trouble? Oh, the late 90s, you were a more innocent time.
Despite Babs' massive crush on Dinah, though, Beeb is not deterred from the flirting.
This is the first time it's really clear she's talking to Ted. Who else is that adorkable?
And for a relationship where neither of them really know much about each other, Babs is clearly really enjoying it, which you can tell because a) Dinah finds out about it (this is back in the days when Dinah couldn't even pry Babs' name out of her) and b) she's totally adorably defensive when Dinah therefore inevitably gives her crap about it.
Of course, they have their rough moments, like when a couple ops go wrong and Babs can't figure out who's messing with her...
... but she doesn't stay angry long...
... and he manages to talk her into a face-to-face.
Babs' waffling perplexity is relevant to the story here, but really, I'm posting that page for the utterly hilarious booth babe with a "Download This" sign.
Anyway, after a few false starts, Babs finally finds her man.
Ted, you moron, you just told her three issues ago that you're in the hero biz! At least her cover story bears some resemblance to what she's told you about herself so far. (Although I suppose both their answers do have the benefit of being technically true. Best kind of lie, that.)
So they go get lunch, although clearly not at the Italian place Ted was talking about (the cheapskate), and continue to lie to each other. In Ted's case, very badly. "Crimefighting gear," right. I do love you Ted, but that's a lousy attempt at a save.
Babs is a bit of a smug bastard, though, and can't resist messing with Ted a bit.
Ted seriously looks psychotic in that third panel. o.O
... "mother something." Right. -_- Both of them are extremely capable of on-demand genuinely witty reparte, so either they're not nearly as comfortable with each other as they're claiming to be regardless of the honesty, or Dixon is just not very funny.
Aww, look at them holding hands! And he doesn't seem to mind that she knows more about him than he knows about her, which is important for anyone who wants to be in Babs' life, particularly that early in her career as Oracle.
Anyway, they're apparently comfortable enough with each other after their lunch date that he feels perfectly fine dropping by the Clocktower unannounced, causing Tim to geek out and Dick to get all possessive.
That look on Timmy's face! Honestly, things like that just force my hand.
So Tim stuffs Dick in the closet (not a euphemism!), and then proceeds to geek out at Ted some more.
Sadly this camraderie dies when Jason Bard shows up (Babs' ex-fiancee, recently rescued from slavery by Dinah) and Babs runs off with him and ditches the rest of the boys.
Still, Ted has official Clocktower clearance now, so he comes by to hang out, help Babs and fret over Dinah...
... and to take Babs out for a ride in the Bug.
Babs and Ted are horrible people.
They're also wusses.
Of course, they're also also superheroes, which means that before long, they run into a disaster that needs the superhero touch - in this case a massive fire and a little kid the firemen can't get to (too much updraft for a chopper). Ted is extremely resistant to indulging in heroics - he's retired, dammit, he can't even stick to his diet, and she wants him to save lives? But, y'know, it's Ted, and Babs has a great Horrible Guilt-Inducing Glare, so out he goes to save the day anyway.
Don't swear in front of the kid, Ted.
Naturally, they save him, and that's a classy evening, I tell ya. Fly around in a giant metal arthropod, make fun of fat guys, freak out at physical proximity to your date, and cart around a small child while dodging superheated shards of metal. What better recipe for romance exists in this world?
... or not.
So, yeah, Babs is pretty involved with Dick by this point, and Ted, I dunno, Ted either doesn't know a good thing when he sees it or has started to come around to the Booster side of the fence, but at any rate, a Babs/Ted fling is pretty much off the table at this point as far as Dixon's concerned.
Their friendship is pretty solid, though, to the point where Babs basically makes him a Bird - and rather a valuable one at that. He's essential to rescuing Dinah from Ra's, f'rinstance, and he singlehandedly flattens the Condiment King during the Last Laugh crossover.
She also has him train in her simulation room (not a euphemism!), which totally kicks his ass. (I apologise for the shitty scan quality on these next few; they're not mine and there was only so much I could do with them.)
Man, Babs is so sexy when she's domineering. Too bad the frumpy art kind of kills it.
Ted, knowing better than to argue with Babs, goes obediently to his appointment, where he's referred to a cardio specialist, who gives him some very bad news.
Obviously, he's off the team now, but that's not the worst of it. A Nefarious Shadowy Corporate Overlord is attempting to buy out his company, and when he won't sell, the NSCO sends a little robot thing to blast him, tie him up and sell all his stock for him, which is about where things stand when Babs calls him for a second opinion on some unrelated stuff.
Babs, fortunately, is no fool, and knows Ted far too well to fall for that shit, no matter how good the little centipede's voice emulation might be.
Just for reference, Dixon is totally pulling that "Edward" thing out of his ass. Ted's been "Theodore" in everything else before and since. But still, nice thought.
Anyway, Babs doesn't fuck around when her friends are in trouble, so she pulls out the big guns (not a euphemism! ... well, maybe a little.) for the rescue.
That's basically the last we see of Ted and Babs interacting in Birds canon, since obviously he's not going to be running around in costume for her anymore, and that's going to cut down on his panel time in a genre primarily concerned with people in costume. He gets a reasonable amount of name-dropping during Gail's run, though, in terms of designing the support tech that Oracle uses, and I think it's fair to assume they're still pretty social with each other off-panel.
And then there's this little exchange (many kudos to kingrockwell for the scans) in the "Formerly Known as the Justice League" mini (which, as with all Superbuddies stuff, is approximately as canon as you want it to be):
Back in the mainline titles, we next see Ted and Babs interact during the whole Infinite Crisis debacle, where she clearly still cares about him a great deal and he still seems at least a little attracted to her.
Countdown to IC paints her as exasperated with him, which seems actually pretty par for the course for them - she tends to yell at people when they worry her (cf: Ted's heart issues, the Nightwing breakup, her entire hundred-issue history with Canary) - but she still comes through for him the best she can, both in calling in favors for him with his investigation, and later when he goes missing and Booster calls her for help.
Of course, with Brainiac eating her alive from inside, she's not real useful to him.
Still, at least she tried, which is a hell of a lot more than anyone else did for the poor guy, other than Booster. And you know, while we're on the topic of idiot decisions made by DC, this seems like a good place to mention that I truly loathe Bennett's art and I hate how frequently DC seems to pair the guy with my favorite writers. Seriously, ugh.
Anyway, alas, their friendship comes to tragic end, since, y'know, Ted went off and got shot in the head and all, and now he's bouncing around the timestream or sporting a black ring or some other ridiculous death-type thing of that nature.
So where do things stand now?
Slight continuity error there - as we saw some of about thirty scans back, Dinah knew about Ted and busted her friend's chops quite thoroughly about it - but easy enough to handwave as Dinah never getting all the details back in the day and just not making the connection between Mysterious Internet Boyfriend of Five Years Past and Net Correspondence With Ted Kord Now.
And that's the final word on Barbara and Ted's relationship. She was a little infatuated with him at first, and he became a great friend. She loved him dearly, she misses him, and she feels a need to honor him more than he's gotten. And either Babs is yanking Dinah's chain (not a euphemism!), or she and Ted totally cyber-did it.