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Batgirl back on her feet after 23 years in DC comics reboot

Holy broken bones! Barbara Gordon, the original Batgirl character paralysed from the waist down in a dastardly deed by the Joker, is to rise again — 23 years after she lost the ability to walk.

In September, DC Comics will reboot the Batgirl storyline and begin the series again from issue number one. In the process, the superheroine will miraculously regain the power of her legs.

The last time she walked was in 1988 until the Joker targeted her in an act of vengeance against Batman and her father, Commissioner Gordon. In Batman: The Killing Joke, he shot Barbara in the back, rendering her paraplegic.

The decision to give her the ability to walk again is part of a move by DC Comics to reignite public interest in its publications. All of DC Universe’s 52 comic book series will go back to square one, allowing their writers to invent new storylines in tune with the modern day.

Among the changes will be a redrawn Superman who will no longer sport red pants worn outside his blue skin suit.

The first black character wearing Batman’s cap and cowl will also be added to the stable. The character will not be a fully-fledged black Batman: instead, Batwing will be a spin-off creation who, according to bloggers, will inhabit the fictional African city of Tenasha.

The reinvented storyline that is likely to capture most attention, however, is the return of the walking Barbara Gordon. After she was reintroduced in 1989 as Oracle, she featured in the comic Birds of Prey, which was made into an ill-fated TV series.

In that role, the wheelchair-bound Gordon’s intellectual brilliance was put to use as a hacker fighting crime in cyberspace. Two other characters have since donned the Batgirl mask.

The decision to turn one of the most renowned female superheroes into a paraplegic was regarded at the time by some comic fans as misogynistic, although many came to appreciate one of the few prominent disabled characters in popular culture, and will now regret her disappearance. As one fan, Lance, put it on a comment in a comic blog: “What has me upset is how unnecessary it was to remove Oracle from the DC Universe.

“She represented too much to have the void be ignored, even more so since this is happening when DC is claiming to increase the amount of diversity in its books. Unless Oracle is still present, it says that people with disabilities aren’t cool enough.”

The writer of the new series, Gail Simone, said she was aware of the controversy likely to surround the revival of Batgirl’s mobility but that the downside would be more than balanced out. “She’s been removed from the action and danger for a long time. With this relaunch, she is still very much Barbara but she can reclaim part of her history and legacy with modern stories.” – guardian.co.uk

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