Character Name:  Batgirl

Real Name:  Betty Kane/Barbara Gordon

Team Affiliation:  none

First Appearances: 

Batman #139 (comic book-1961) 

Batman (TV Show 1966-1968)

Batman the Animated Series (cartoon-1992)

Batman & Robin (live action movie-1996)

Superhuman Powers:  Photographic memory; utility belt which contains battarang (bat boomerang), tear gas pellets, bola, smoke bombs, mini-binoculars, swingline with grapple; utility pocket book which has other helpful aids.  She also has keen athletic and acrobatic skills.

Biography:  The original Batgirl was created by Bob Kane in 1961.  Betty Kane was the niece of Batwoman.  Betty Cane was not a popular character during her first appearance in DC Comics.  Batgirl became popular when ABC introduced Batman to TV in 1966.    In this series, Batgirl was introduced as Barbara Gordon, the niece of Police Commissioner Gordon.  In 1967, DC Comics reintroduced Batgirl as the niece of Commissioner Gordon as well.  Barbara's mother Thelma died in a car accident when she was a young girl.  Her father Roger became an alcoholic, and her uncle, James Gordon, gained custody of her when she was thirteen.  She attended Gotham State University and graduated with a degree in library science.  She was also accomplished in Juno, Karate, gymnastics and running. 

Her journey as Batgirl began with an invitation to a costume ball.  Barbara decided to go as Batgirl.  On her way to the ball, she saw a villain, Killer Moth, trying to kidnap Bruce Wayne.  She rescues Wayne, eventually helps to capture Killer Moth, and decides to lead a life as a masked superheroine helping to protect the community from crime.  She continued to fight crime until she was shot by the Joker in the back, which paralyzed her (1989).  Since she was confined to a wheelchair, Barbara continued as Oracle, a cyber-superheroine.  She used her knowledge of computer skills to aid all of the superheroes in Gotham City and beyond.  Two more Batgirls emerged in 1999.  Helena Bertinelli, also known as the Huntress, becomes Batman II.  Later in the same year, Batman and Oracle pass on the Batgirl mantle to an Asian-American assassin, who is mute.

So Many Characters, So Little Time:  When considering the evolution of the Batgirl character, it is interesting to consider why Betty Kane did not survive as Batgirl.  Although she was reincarnated as a character named Flamebird in the Teen Titans series, she spent six years in limbo.  It is possible that Catwoman, who appeared for the first time in 1940, overshadowed her good-doer counterpart.  Interestingly enough, Batgirl's aunt, Batwoman, who was created in 1956, did not survive as a superheroine either.  She died in 1979.  These two characters call into question the loyalty to good women in the comic book world.  They start a trend of superheroines who are stripped of their powers after a period of time, while their villianness enemies continue to thrive over the years.  Catwoman's popularity is also evident after the creation of her own comic book in 1993, while Batgirl III just received her own book in 2000.  People seem more intrigued by evil women than good ones, at least in the realm of supernatural.


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