23 June 2007

The Friends and Foes of Batman - Batgirl

Batgirl is one of Batman's crime fighting parters (not to be confused with Batwoman). Several incarnations of the character have existed since the early 1960s, though there has never been a "Batboy." The best-known Batgirl was Barbara Gordon, daughter of Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon. She debuted in the comics and on the live-action TV show at nearly the same time. Aside from the 60's TV show, Batgirl has also appeared in animated form in Batman: The Animated Series and The Batman, as well as in the stinker Batman and Robin as portrayed by Alicia Silverstone - though this incarnation of Barbara was related to Alfred rather than the comish. In Batman Begins, Jimmy Gordon has a baby, but it looks like it will be many a year before she teams up with the Bat.

Betty Kane

The original Bat-Girl was Betty Kane, the niece of Kathy Kane, Batwoman. Batwoman and Bat-Girl were created to be romantic interests for Batman and Robin as much as crime-fighting associates. Bat-Girl wore a red-and-green costume to "flatter" Robin. Bat-Girl appeared seven times between 1961 and 1964, but then disappeared in 1964 (along with Batwoman, Ace the Bat-Hound, and Bat-Mite) when it was decided these characters were too silly. Bat-Girl reappeared in the late 1970s as a member of Teen Titans West; however, she only appeared a total of four times in this era.

Bat-Girl was reimagined as a character named Flamebird (after DC's crisis on infinite earths) who had many similarities to Bat-Girl in her costume, her interest in tennis, her history with Titans West, and her romantic connection to Robin. Flamebird's real name is similar to the first Bat-Girl's: Mary Elizabeth 'Bette' Kane.

Barbara Gordon

The next Batgirl was librarian-by-day Barbara Gordon, daughter of Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon. On her way to a masquerade ball dressed as a female version of Batman, Barbara (also known as Babs) halted a kidnapping attempt on Bruce Wayne by the villainous Killer Moth, attracting the attention of Batman and leading to a crime-fighting career.

At first, Batman did not approve of Barbara's involvement in crime-fighting, but as she solved more cases, beat more villains, and became more skilled, Batgirl gained Batman's respect and trust. Barbara Gordon appeared as Batgirl from 1967 to 1988.

After relinquishing her role as Batgirl, Barbara Gordon was later shot in the spine and crippled by the Joker. She continued to fight crime, even though she was wheelchair bound, under the guise of Oracle, a free-lance information broker and expert hacker who has supported a number of different heroes, but most notably as the founder of and brains behind the Birds of Prey.

Helena Bertinelli

During the late 1990s a new Batgirl emerged. She was revealed to be the Huntress, Helena Bertinelli. An earthquake had leveled Gotham City, the government declared the city a no man'sland and Batman disappeared. To bring order to the city, the Huntress assumed the mantle of The Bat (she discovered criminals feared her more as Batgirl than they did when she was the Huntress). When Batman returned, he dubbed her "Batgirl" and said if she failed him, she would have to give up the costume.

When Huntress failed to protect Batman's territory from Two-Face and his gang of over 200 criminals on her own (while Batman himself was unconscious and tied up), he held her responsible and stripped her of the mantle. Huntress would later join Oracle's Birds of Prey, thus giving the group two former Batgirls.

Cassandra Cain

Cassandra Cain was a young woman of partly Asian descent who became the fourth Batgirl with the approval of both Batman and Barbara Gordon. She was given Helena Bertinelli's costume. Trained by her father, assassin David Cain, to be the ultimate martial artist and assassin, Cassandra was not taught to speak. Instead, the parts of her brain normally used for speech were trained so she could read other people's movements and body language and predict, with uncanny accuracy, their next move. This also caused her brain to develop learning functions different from most, a form of dyslexia that hampers her abilities to read and write. She eventually gave up the identity, but Cassandra remains Batgirl in the Titans East.


A young girl with various superpowers temporarily became the new Batgirl in the Birds of Prey, until Oracle told her to drop the identity. She has recently reappeared in a different outfit, under the alias Misfit. She became the third former Batgirl associated with the Birds of Prey.

Friend and Foe Profiles:

Ra's al Ghul
Talia al Ghul
Baby Doll
Bat-Hound (Ace)

The Dark Knight returns in 391 days!

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