Saturday, August 29, 2015

Definitive takes on my favorite comic book characters: Barbara Gordon/Batgirl

Welcome to the second installment of my ongoing series of op-eds known as "Definitive takes on my favorite comic book characters." Part One started with Earth's Mightiest Heroes, The Avengers.

Check out what I consider the greatest takes on my favorite fictional redhead: Barbara Gordon, better known as Batgirl, and her second replacement, Stephanie Brown.

Come back to CCC for the third installment of this series, about the Batman!

Barbara “Babs” Gordon: Babs has it all; She’s an intelligent nerd with a smokin’ hot body, determination, a survivor’s mentality, a photographic memory and a father who adores her. For my money, artists Dick Giordano, Don Newton and Jose Luis Garcia-Perez deliver the best renditions of Batgirl. Did I mention Babs is an a**-kick-in’ redhead who is inspired by Batman and has a thing for his first (and greatest) partner?
Barbara Gordon is all dolled up as she speaks to her father in this scene from "Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero."
A smokin' hot Batgirl by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez
Barbara Gordon by actress Dina Meyer: This is exactly what I expect a young-adult Gordon (as the computer expert Oracle) to look like in real life.

Much like Babs herself, Meyer is a classic redhead with a restrained sexuality (as I said in my 2008 review of the short-lived, but wholly satisfying "Birds of Prey" TV series) who plays Gordon as a woman still haunted by being shot at point-blank range by The Joker years ago when she was at her prime as Batgirl.

Now, Gordon is a high-school English teacher who is a protective mother hen to Helena Kyle (aka Huntress, played by Ashley Scott) and Dinah. More importantly, this Gordon is a highly intelligent woman with a nose for detective work and a working, wary knowledge of the challenges of fighting crime in New Gotham.
Dina Meyer played Barbara Gordon in 11 episodes of the "Birds of Prey"
TV series. (This collage appears courtesy of Spoiler Alert Gotham.)

Batgirl/Babs with Dick Grayson: There’s never been a comic-book couple with as much chemistry as Babs and Grayson. No matter if Grayson is Robin, Nightwing or Batman, the sparks fly when he’s with comicdom’s most alluring redhead. Can you blame him?

BATGIRL: YEAR ONE: Writers Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon deliver an intriguing insight into what makes Babs tick — not to mention why Robin has a crush on her and why Batman approves/affirms Batgirl as a crimefighter. In short, it’s the definitive Batgirl/Babs story, which will make you fall in love with my favorite fictional redhead all over again. (Go here for my review of the must-read YEAR ONE trade paperback.)

Batgirl by the late actress Yvonne Craig: As I said in my Aug. 19 tribute to Craig, for fans of the funky 1960s "Batman" TV series, Craig will always be that young, gorgeous, perpetually spunky and librarian-hot Barbara Gordon. Grace, beauty and a charismatic flair are what she brought to Batgirl — not to mention the ballet-like kick she used in the fights united with the Dynamic Duo against various henchmen. This incarnation of Batgirl wasn't just the first super heroine onscreen in TV or the movies; Craig's Gordon is a smart woman who lived on her own and supported herself — a great role model for women of any generation or age.

Batgirl III (aka Stephanie Brown, formerly Spoiler): The former Spoiler is delightfully charming and sassy as Brown (who sadly has been missing from DC Comics until just recently) finds her way through on-the-job training taking up the Batgirl mantle. Although she has the guise slightly longer than her very brief time as the fourth Robin, Brown’s tenure in her 36-issue solo series is fun, but much too short. Having Babs be her reluctant mentor is a stroke of genious. Next up (at some point!): An all-Batman edition of CCC’s “definitive takes.”
Stephanie Brown's Batgirl by artist Dustin Nguyen

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