From 1989 to 2011, Barbara Gordon was widely considered the best-written disabled character in mainstream comics. She remains the best representation that the disabled community have ever had from DC Comics. Her disability did not prevent her from being a hero. She had no superpowers to fall back on, unlike characters such as Daredevil and Professor X. As Oracle, she moved out of Batman’s shadow to become her own woman, without forgetting where she came from. She led her own team, became a member of the Justice League in her own right, and provided a unique role linking together the heroes of DC Earth.
In 2011 DC put an end to that, stripping her of her leadership role, making her younger, regressing her back into a girl dressed like Batman, and deciding that representing the disabled community simply wasn’t worth the effort. One of the most distinct silhouettes in mainstream comics was abandoned to give her back the standard young able-bodied attractive heroine body.
I can understand that the designs for female heroes’ costumes are so bad that there’s a lot of excitement for one that’s remotely practical.
But it does sadden me a great deal to see so many people effectively applauding what is one of the biggest steps backward mainstream comics have ever seen in terms of representation and diversity.
Picture by Cassandra James
[image: drawing of barbara gordon, a young woman in a wheelchair. she is wearing batman pajama pants and bunny slippers, sitting in front of a laptop and a cup of coffee. there is a batgirl doll by one of the wheels of her chair, and she hold a book on which the word “advanced” is visible as part of the title. she looks happy.]