OK – lots of background before I make a, hopefully, quick point.
Dc Comics made an announcement last week that has the comicsphere buzzing. They are restarting every comic in their line (52 titles) with new #1 issues and a new continuity in September. Additionally, every title will have a simultaneous day and price release digitally. The announcement is here.
Since then they’ve been rolling out the announcements as to the titles, characters and creators assigned to the titles. One that is causing controversy is Barbara Gordon. Currently she is the wheelchair bound lead of the Birds Of Prey and information clearing house as Oracle. In September, with the reboot, she’ll resume her former career as Batgirl.
I agree with them, but for completely different reasons. I’m not upset about removing a disabled role model from the DC Universe. I can understand why folks appreciate her, but to me it strikes as tokenism if a character is kept disabled just so that the universe has a disabled person. Also, personally, I think people are better off looking for real life role models than fictional ones…
I want good stories and good characters. Good characters can result in good stories. Good stories can result in good characters. But a gimmick does not make a good character. In general it makes a bad character. Look at all the national and regional characters that are created. Most of them really, really suck. In trying to make someone who represents a culture they pick up all the stereotypes of that culture.
Now Oracle is actually a good character. Not because of the disability, but because that is just a part of a whole character. A character with a history and skills that exist before and after the injury, a character with goals and motivations, a character with relationships, with fears and loves. Oracle is unique because of who she is and what she does. She appears in interesting stories and makes stories more interesting because of her inclusion.
Batgirl is just another Batman wannabe swinging over Gotham. That is why I think this particular reboot is a mistake.