Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wonder Wednesday 03-31-10

First off, I just realized that Cathy's and my birthdays this year fall on Saturdays, so look out! I'm envisioning something along these lines:

Who's down? Everyone from that video is invited, except Lindsay! Keep your sorry ass far away! Ahem, anyway... on to this week's Wonder Wednesday! Today's feature is Oracle.Whom... you probably know better as Batgirl!Originally, Batgirl was created to spark interest in the waning Batman TV series in 1967.
Yvonne Craig portrayed the high-kicking heroine, roaring into action on her lavender, lace-trimmed Batgirl Cycle. (On the show, all her gizmos were referred to as "Batgirl this" or "Batgirl that" to differentiate them from Batman's devices which were simply "Bat this" or "Bat that." I guess Batgirl's were made out of estrogen or something.) In addition to her defining role as Batgirl, Yvonne Craig also played another 60s icon, the green slave girl on Star Trek:She even had her own theme music! Check it out:

I also distinctly recall seeing this commercial when I was a kid:

In the comics, it was explained that Barbara Gordon, Commissioner Gordon's librarian daughter, had fashioned a feminized version of Batman's costume for a costume gala, but en route, Barbara stumbled upon her father's attempted kidnapping by the villain Killer Moth. Leaping into action, Batgirl saved him and in the process, became smitten with the thrill of crime fighting. She never made it to the costume gala, but instead decided to adopt the Batgirl identity full-time. The Dynamic Duo became the Terrific Trio.Batgirl was an instant star and quickly joined Batman and Robin in a flood of merchandised items.The first Batgirl doll was made by Ideal in 1967 for a line referred to as the "Super Queens" which also included Wonder Woman, Supergirl and surprisingly, Mera, Aquaman's wife. (Maybe not THAT surprisingly, as Mera did appear on Aquaman's Saturday morning cartoon series.) The doll isn't completely accurate. Most notably, she has black hair, rather than red. These dolls were a huge flop. Little girls didn't want super hero dolls and little boys didn't want dolls period. Therefore they are incredibly rare today, selling in the thousands.With Batman in syndication, constantly luring new children into the colorful and exciting world of super heroics (including ME!) Batgirl easily became one of the most famous female heroes in the world. But sadly, the 80s were not kind to the female heroes. Supergirl died and Batgirl was crippled when The Joker shot her, lodging a bullet in her spine.Barbara, now confined to a wheelchair, immersed herself in computer technology and became the super hacker Oracle, supplying Batman and other heroes in the DC Universe with any information they require. Most notably, she operates with Black Canary and other female heroes as the Birds of Prey.
Oracle is easily one of the best-written and developed heroines in all of comics... which is why DC has kept her in that role, despite the fact that Batgirl is far more iconic, especially among non-comic readers. They have attempted to introduce two new Batgirls to fill the role. First, assassin Cassandra Cain:And more recently, Stephanie Brown, the daughter of minor Batman villain Cluemaster.Neither have any hope of ever becoming as popular and iconic as Barbara, though. The new Batwoman was an attempt to at least put a redhead back in a batsuit.But despite her comic being (in my opinion) the BEST comic out there, she's Batwoman, not Batgirl and it's Batgirl that's the icon.

But the fact that technically Barbara Gordon is no longer Batgirl hasn't stopped her from appearing in pretty much ANY series of licensed DC merchandise. Her image has emblazoned dozens of tee shirts and twice now, she's been included as part of Mattel's Barbie line.First she appeared in a sparkly black and blue uniform, reminiscent of the shimmery purple suit that Yvonne Craig wore on TV. This doll was part of a series along with Supergirl and Wonder Woman (and later Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn and Catwoman). This Batgirl was also issued in a boxed set with her Batgirl Cycle, sadly sans lace trim.And more recently, an adult-skewed collector's doll was issued, wearing a black leathery uniform, with metallic gold and black cape. Once more, Wonder Woman and Supergirl appeared in this series, along with Black Canary.

For some reason, Batgirl's uniform seems to be the most diversely interpreted of the heroes. Some see her outfit as being black on black, citing the fact that her cape and cowl are rendered in the same midnight blue as black hair is in comics and her bodysuit is typically colored darker than Batman's. However, others (myself included), see her costume as more literal to the comics, blue on gray. That is how Tonner interpreted it when they issued their recent collector's doll:
Then again, on TV, her suit appears all purple!Originally, it was supposed to be the same color as Batman's cape, but it didn't quite turn out that way, allegedly because the costume designer was colorblind!
So, despite the fact that her career as Batgirl seems to be gone for good in the comics, she still remains one of the most famous and recognizable female heroes outside of comics and that fact doesn't appear to be changing any time soon!

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