Don’t Mourn Batgirl’s Death. Celebrate Her Life
Edited in May 2013: I’ve noticed this blog getting a few hits lately, so to avoid confusion I need to point something out: Gail kept writing Batgirl! Hurray! The decision was reversed so she didn’t leave after all. I’m leaving this post up though as it still reflects my feelings on her fantastic Batgirl run. Enjoy!
Originally I started this blog post in a very negative place. I was angry that Gail Simone had been removed from Batgirl, a character that in my eyes belongs to Gail. But instead while writing it I realised it wasn’t helping anyone focusing on all the negative reactions. Instead I should focus on just why I was having such a strong reaction to the news in the first place: Because Gail’s run on Batgirl means a lot to me. I don’t want Gail’s final issues to be seen as ‘what might have been’ instead they should be a celebration of everything she’s already done.
I actually met Gail a year ago at Thought Bubble 2011, a comic book convention in Leeds here in the UK. I was ecstatic that she was attending and I set out knowing meeting her would be the highlight of the weekend. Upon finding her I told her how much I was enjoying Batgirl and how I loved that you could see the emotional effects that The Killing Joke had on her. At the time only two issues of Batgirl had been released and there was still some leftover murmurs on the internet that Barbara shouldn’t be back in the batsuit. Originally before the series was re-launched I was honestly thinking the same thing. I loved that Barbara was Oracle, I didn’t want all that character work undone. But upon reading the first issue all those concerns were jettisoned out the door. There with Gail right in front of me I tried to explain to her that I got it. I now understood what she was doing. She wasn’t showing Barbara jumping back into action and ignoring everything that’d happened. That was the total opposite, looking back I feel stupid for ever doubting her. Instead Gail was showing the next chapter of Barbara’s life. Barbara wasn’t just a woman who ran around dressed as a bat she was someone who was trying to press on with her life despite the horrible event that happened to her. Barbara’s home was invaded where she was shot, humiliated and left crippled. That’s not something a person ever forgets and Batgirl’s story was showing that.
Gail was as wonderful to meet as I’d hoped. She was all smiles and laughter and even asked me what comics I was enjoying at the time. My only regret is that I wish I was able to articulate better how much I really appreciated what she was doing in Batgirl. We don’t see that side of super heroes enough. A lot of people look to these characters as idols because of how resilient they are but when they show weakness it makes them more relatable than ever. I can barely think of any mainstream super heroes who have legitimate mental issues but Barbara had post traumatic stress disorder and was still going out there and trying her best. That’s just downright inspiring. It really cemented the idea that Barbara is a person with tangible strengths and flaws, just like me. She has problems but she doesn’t let them stop her from living her life and giving it her all. Not only that, she makes mistakes. But when she does screw up she doesn’t give up and go home she soldiers on. That is something to aspire to. It’s something everyone can relate to.
Barbara Gordon is my role model because of those things. Unlike Batman who’s larger than life, Gail wrote Barbara with human weaknesses that we can all recognise as a reflection of our own personal issues. Yes, it’s tragic that her run is over but the issues that we do have aren’t going anywhere. I can go back and read the issues right now or next month or in five years. I’ve made the decision not to mourn the end of Gail’s Batgirl but to celebrate the fact that it existed at all and why it was important to me. Besides, it’s not even over yet. Issue 15 is still coming this week and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
Everything comes to an end at some point so let’s support the end of Gail’s run and enjoy these last few issues. Because dwelling on the negative isn’t what Barbara would do, she’d make the best of what she’s got. That’s what we, as fans of Gail’s Batgirl, should do too.