Friday, August 10, 2018

Oracle and Lieutenant Uhura



The creation of Oracle by John Ostrander was one of the best lemonade-out-of-lemons moves in comics.  Despite the gorgeous artwork, I did not like the story of The Killing Joke and was not happy that Barbara Gordon's crippling at the hands of the Joker was canon.   Once she re-imagined her heroic role as Oracle, though, I was intrigued and I enjoyed watching her development through titles like Birds of Prey.  It's cool seeing her back as Batgirl again, but was it necessary?  It's not like Batman doesn't have other female street level crimefighters to work with - even other Batgirls. It was nice to see that her disability did not prevent her from being a hero and I miss that.

20 comments:

AirDave said...

I shudder to say this out loud, but I think Alan Moore - and The Killing Joke - is overrated. The crippling of Barbara Gordon and the killing of Jason Todd are low points in Bat-history.

TJW said...

I agree with every word that you wrote about Babs Gordon and Oracle, Ross. I wasn't happy with what happened to her in The Killing Joke, but instead of simply undoing it and retconning it out of existence, John Ostrander used it to turn Babs into a much more interesting character. Imagine a superhero whose "superpower" is information! Plus, as a character she was an inspiration to people who'd suffered severe spinal injuries. I'm not sure what was gained by making her Batgirl again when, as you pointed out, there were certainly no shortage of candidates to fill that roll. Meanwhile, the loss of the character Oracle leaves a gaping hole in the DC superhero universe that, as far as I know, has still not been filled.

The Answer Man said...

The concept of Batman needing a computer hacker to provide him with information hurts his character. He's a detective, highly intelligent, and has access to the greatest tech. If he needed information I'm sure the batcomputer has a sophisticated AI comparable to anything Tony Stark has.

The Answer Man said...

I'm surprised that Batman never gave Alfred a codename to use for communication. As often as Batman is in the field calling on Alfred by name for assistance he should have given him a codename in case someone overhears or intercepts the communication and uses it to uncover Batman's secret identity.

Anonymous said...

Today being the planned premiere date of Netflix's "Insatiable", if the tv series is still being released on schedule, it probably would have been better to air it on a fixed-schedule network's programming block that DOESN'T have a reputation for social educational tv programming, like maybe the likes of Adult Swim!

Cary Comic said...

My guess? DC's writers ret-conned her to being Batgirl because they got tired of the on-again/off-again feud with the Calculator. Me, too, to be honest!

Regarding today's team-up, I have to ask myself: "Why exile Batman, himself, to the Gamma Quadrant? Why not Mr. Spock's earliest ancestor on his mother's side? Is the Dark Knight merely bait in a convoluted trap? Or is there a secondary purpose? Like, say, transplantation of Ra's Al Ghul's mind into Bruce Wayne's body via the Camus device?"

Inquiring Bat-trekkies want to know!

P.S.---thanks for using the Silver Age Uhura. Rowr-rowr!!

Jay Johnson said...

Answer-Man: When Oracle was created, AI's could barely play chess, the Web wasn't World Wide, and hacking was still something mysterious done only by highly trained professionals and twisted genius nerds. So Batman using Oracle was ahead of the curve. And it should be noted that Batman only started using Oracle after she had proved herself with Ostrander's Suicide Squad.

And Alfred's code-name on communications is "Penny-One". When he was injured and his daughter was helping out, she was "Penny-Two".
Not the best of code names, but still an alias.

As hacking became mundane and every team and strike force got their own computer genius, Oracle became redundant and was sometimes used as an excuse for lazy storytelling (hero jumping from point A to D because "Oracle found the hideout by looking at the power usage statistics"). And there has always been a "back-to-basics" bloc of fandom who insists the only "Dominoed Daredoll" is Barbara Gordon.

Bob Greenwade said...

I recall that Oracle was retconned back into Batgirl because the New 52 had superheroes only having been around for about five years, putting everyone near the beginning of their personal stories. Thus, Barbara was still Batgirl, and of course trying to retell The Killing Joke would be literally redundant. Many fans, especially wheelchair-bound women, were upset, and even the writing staff wasn't happy about it (and had a few other issues with the decision), but that's what happened.

I do agree with you on her development as Oracle, though. Her leadership of the Birds of Prey (though I haven't yet read any of the series) was a true inspiration. And if every super-team has its own computer genius, why not make Oracle the top of the heap -- the one that other hackers call on when they need help?

I've recently read The Killing Joke, and while I do agree that it's overrated, the crippling of Barbara Gordon did lead to her reemergence as Oracle, and the story does give a very good picture of how the ways we handle adversity is more a matter of personal choice than of the adversity itself. Bruce chose to rise above his "bad day," Gordon chose to stay his course, and the Joker chose to make everyone else suffer.

Funny thing, though: I was just thinking about Oracle last night, and how she'd be well placed to team up with the other well-known wheelchair-bound hero, Professor X. Besides their shared mobility issues, there's a built-in plot seed there: Xavier calls on Barbara to boost Cerebro's capabilities to track a well-hidden, very dangerous mutant!

TJW said...

Bob Greenwade, your observations regarding the retconning of Babs/Batgirl and the New 52 superheroes being only about five years into their superhero careers is interesting and valid. This makes it even more puzzling why DC kept some of the baggage that they chose to keep. I'm thinking specifically of their decision to still keep three ex-Robins (Dick Grayson, Jason Todd and Tim Drake) around. The thought that Batman could have burned through THREE Robins in about five years is more than a little frightening. This, among many other reasons, is why the New 52 always struck me as extremely ill-conceived.

I remember at the time DC touted the New 52 as a great jumping on point for new readers. For me it ended up being the jumping off point for someone who'd been a loyal DC Comics reader for decades.

Jay Johnson said...

Actually, "The Killing Joke" still did happen in the New52, and Barbara did spend some time as Oracle, and worked with Black Canary at least a couple of times. She had just recovered from the surgery that gave her the use of her legs back in Batgirl (New52) #1. She still had the wheelchair in the back of her van as she was moving into her new place. The retconning flashbacks showed her becoming Batgirl not that long after Dick became Robin (probably sometime late in Year 2) and she was only Batgirl for about a year before "The Killing Joke".

One of the first arcs of "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" in Rebirth was about Barbara being pissed off by somebody new using the Oracle codename.

Glenn Host said...

I agree with TJW - what DC saw as a on jumping on point I saw as a jumping off point and aside from a few trades I stopped buying comics.

I thought The Killing Joke was lame and was given to Alan Moore to palicate him. It is so much EASIER to write a story out of continuity or by doing a major change to a character ESPECIALLY when writer will not be writing character for years.

I thought the post Crisis change with Superman's parents a much better change since it gave ideas of new stories and Moore had nothing to do with evolution of Barbara to Oracle.

ShadowWing Tronix said...

Something else that keeps getting forgotten is that Barbara retired as Batgirl BEFORE she was crippled. She became a senator of Gotham's home state and tried to do good there. I also don't know why undoing her paralysis meant she couldn't stay Oracle except the New 52 was about restoring characters to something DiDio and friends grew up with (and the fact that no other Batgirl has shown up outside of the comics) and giving them a darker makeover.

Simreeve said...

While we're thinking in terms of Batgirl/Star Trek crossovers, how about having the Batgirl from the 1960s TV series meet a certain Orion slave-girl?

^_^

Cary Comic said...

I second Simreeve's motion. Rowr-rowr!!

Kid Charlemagne said...

Alan Moore is one of the many, many people, inside and outside of the comics world, with whom I am less impressed now, at 55, than I was at, say, 25.

Kid Charlemagne said...

Though, to be fair, Moore did a remarkably good job of revamping Liefeld's little comics universe with his run on SUPREME.

Cary Comic said...

@Kid Charlemagne: One might even call it an "extraordinary job!"

;-)

Anonymous said...

@Carycomic: only if the storyline were set in the Victorian Age. ;-D

Anonymous said...

have people compared the equestria girls of mlp:fim with orion girls (non-human skin color)?

Anonymous said...

I've always considered the Little Ponies as merely the Care Bears of Horse Land.

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