Welcome to the 2021 A to Z Challenge! My theme this year is DC Comics. And that’s mostly because of my undying affection for the comic book characters and stories that I grew up reading in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. So stay tuned all month to (maybe) learn a little something about 26 corners of the DC Multiverse.
Before we talk about Oracle, there’s quite a bit of back story that we need to get into. So buckle up, Buttercup.
Barbara Gordon is the daughter of Gotham City’s Police Commissioner, James Gordon. But sometimes the character of Gordon’s wife is also named Barbara… I think? So does that mean that they had a daughter and named her after her mother? Does that make her Barbara Gordon, Jr.? I know they also had a son who definitely is James Gordon, Jr.
Anyway, you basically need to know that Barbara Gordon is Commissioner Gordon’s daughter and was inspired by Batman and took on the role of Batgirl as a teenager. Then, in Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, the Joker paid the Gordon’s a visit, shooting Barbara in the gut and kidnapping Jim in an attempt to drive the commissioner insane. This attack was based on James Gordon being who he was, not because the Joker had deduced that Barbara was secretly Batgirl.
The bullet caused a spine injury in Barbara, effectively paralyzing her from the waist down. Her days as Batgirl were over.
Being confined to a wheelchair didn’t end Barbara’s ability to continue a life of heroism as she continued to assist Batman and the rest of the hero community in her role as Oracle. As Oracle, Barbara was a computer genius who took on the role of the “guy in the chair” that Ned took on in the film Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Oracle, using her incredible hacking abilities, acted as the behind the scenes eyes and ears for many of Earth’s greatest heroes. She managed to keep things running smoothly for Gotham City’s Bat-family, but was also useful in aiding the Justice League for many of their missions as well.
Barbara, during her time as Oracle, also served as a founding member of the Birds of Prey, a team which originally included Black Canary and Huntress.
I mentioned in my post about Nightwing that he had, at times, been romantically linked to Barbara from time to time. As the post-Crisis continuity drew to a close, prior to the New 52, I’m pretty sure Dick Grayson proposed to Barbara. Though I’m not too sure what her answer was.
In 2011, when DC Comics rebooted the continuity with the New 52, they decided it was time for Barbara to return to the role of Batgirl. Oddly enough, this did not eliminate her time as Oracle, as this was vaguely referenced as having occurred at some point during the first five years of DC’s new heroic age. Again, this is where the New 52 continuity had a lot of missteps, attempting to include some aspects of the previous continuity while eliminating others.
I remember there being a bit of controversy when they returned Barbara to her old costume, as it eliminated a super hero in a wheelchair, that many disabled individuals could look to as an inspiration.
Since the reboot, I believe another individual has taken on the role of Oracle, however I’m pretty sure this new Oracle is a villain that Batgirl has had to face a number of times. I don’t really know, though, since I stopped paying attention to the new continuity.
In the early 2000s, there was a Birds of Prey TV show which focused mostly on Huntress, who was the daughter of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. But she was teamed with a young Black Canary and Oracle, portrayed by Dina Meyers (whom you might recognize from the first few Saw movies… or maybe Starship Troopers). There is also an animated film adaptation of The Killing Joke, which brutally depicts Barbara’s paralyzation at the hands of the Joker. I don’t necessarily recommend watching that movie, though… I didn’t think it was particularly well done. At least, not compared to most of DC’s animated films.
Did you know about Barbara Gordon’s time as Oracle? Did I leave out anything important? Let me know down in the comments!