Rick, the issue for me is that she was a lens. Her free-love attitude was there to poke fun at US and our prudishness and preoccupation over our own bodies and sex. That's what I liked about her.
You're so right about this, and that's terribly well-expressed. I wonder if Wolfman himself could have put it better. I guarantee you that few if any of the current DC writers understand this point at all.
As you say, Rick, turning her into a living teenager's dream sex toy has been beyond offensive to me. I wish I knew how to get in contact with them so I could write a letter telling them just how idiotic this change in her has been. Politely, and I'm serious.
I don't know this for certain, but I suspect that the DC writers and execs haunt the DC website message boards, which are vast and active, or at least, they were last time I looked, which was long ago. This topic has probably already been discussed over there, but if you're looking to have your voice heard by the people in charge, that might be a place to look into.
The basic gist of my problems with DC is that it seems like everything is over designed, with the gold standard being a 12 year old from the 90's idea of what is cool, edgy and dark.
This is so horrifically and utterly true. From what I've heard, at least two of the major players in early 90s Marvel superhero comics -- Jim Lee, and one of the execs whose name escapes me -- are directly responsible for the New 52 initiative, and it shows. The costume redesigns on the major characters are an absolute embarrassment, IMO, and reek of 20-years-ago. Why are so many comics buyers apparently untroubled by this?
The New 52 was a smashing sales success, which means that we're destined for much more of the same for many years to come. Back in about 1992, I started to wonder just how many times Marvel and DC could "re-boot" successfully -- convince their fans to buy yet another wave of new "collector's item number one issues"! I wasn't cynical enough to guess that the commercial viability of reboots was inexhaustible
, as time has shown it to be. There will be more, every
year or two, with all the same problems and frustrations and annoyances and cheap manipulations of the audience, until they finally stop selling -- which will apparently never happen. Maybe when comics finally die off altogether as an ongoing, active medium (which could happen anytime!).
GM is a gigantic talent, among the best writers comics have seen, but I've only read a fraction of his output so far, so I can't endorse him unequivocally. :) It's good to hear that Loeb has good stuff in his past, because so far, everything I've read has been either unremarkable -- average -- or atrocious. :( I hope his good stuff is among the stuff I've bought but haven't read yet.
HSB, thanks for the rundown of various characters -- you added some insights and info that were new to me, so that's much appreciated. :)
The thing with Barbara Gordon was that The Killing Joke was never meant to be 'canon'. In fact, it still isn't. Some writer thought it was and ran with it, and unfortunately, the rest of the DC universe got caught in it.
I'd love to hear more about this, where you heard about it. I kept up with comics at the time of Killing Joke's release -- I was a young'un, of course -- and I don't recall hearing anything at the time about KJ being outside of normal continuity. Back then, "Elseworlds" did not exist as a term, and doing stories outside of continuity was almost unheard-of; Miller's DK 1 was the one gigantic exception. That and the "imaginary stories" of the Silver Age.
As for Oracle, I personally HATED it. As a cripple I find it highly offensive, that someone who willingly refuses aid (like in her case reconstructive surgery) is a coward, attention hog and the worst kind of person, someone who refuses to grow, and fight, his or her disability. I'm crippled for life, but I WILL BE DAMNED if I don't beat this. I WILL beat this. She didn't out of some stupid excuse, when she could have been doing more good as an actual Bat operative, than an information hub that someone else could also do. She got no sympathy from me.
I bought some of the new Batgirl (for Simone, natch) but haven't read it yet. In the comics I've read (which isn't much, I admit), I absolutely loved the idea of Oracle as a powerful and important hero whose physical condition was unhidden but also wasn't played up as some crucial element of her character, in the way that minorities of any sort usually have their minority characteristics exaggerated and highlighted in comics, in the most dumb and obvious ways (ex. "BLACK Lightning" and the pseudo-"ghetto"-slang of every black superhero prior to the 90s).
Whether you can get your voice heard by the DC management or not is hard to guess, but people with physical disabilities are precisely the readers whose opinion about the handling of Barbara Gordon matters the most, IMO (my apologies, of course, if I'm using any terminology here that bugs you in any way). Because I'm behind with things, I don't even know yet how they got the character out of her wheelchair, but if she was handled in a way that is just embarrassing or irritating or offensive to some people, I hope that DC's management hears that as often as possible.
It isn't easy or simple to find a thoughtful and sensitive and balanced way to portray minorities of any kind in popular media -- do you ignore their differences from others, or emphasize them, or what? -- but it's an important question IMO, not just for comics but for movies, TV, etc.