the batgirl effect

For the Nerds who like fitness:

I’ve been doing a fun thing lately, it’s a blast and I feel good. 

There’s this website, darebee.com, and they post a lot of cool equipment free workouts, and they have some superhero themed ones which I think is awesome! I read a lot of comic books and watch comic book shows and stuff a lot, so in addition to my regular (I like swimming! Front crawls for those superhero delts, yo) I do a set or two of this Supergirl themed workout for everyepisode of a DC show  I watch -

A set of this rad Batgirl one for every DC comic I read -

A set of this Black Widow one for every episode of a Marvel show I watch and every few Marvel comics I read -

They’ve got one for Vikings, Battlestar Galactica, Legend of Korra, Xena, Mass Effect, and a bunch of other stuff. They have ones for the guys, too. Highly Recommend.

Who Saves the World? Girls.

Batgirl, Zatanna, and Rocket to be specific. And despite the fact that Impulse was literally sent from the future to save the earth from Reach-controlled Blue Beetle, these girls run the mission.

Rocket and Zatanna are able to take down Blue, then Zatanna summons a goddess and releases the ancient power needed to cleanse the scarab and free Jaime.  

Batgirl shows off a number of talents this episode. We see her fight skills, her expert planning abilities, and her mentoring of Tim. With Batman still off planet, there’s no doubt who the current World’s Greatest Detective is. In short, Batgirl’s brain and Zatanna’s magic save the day. And this fangirl was definitely cheering over her morning coffee. 

Of note: Zatanna initially appeared in 1964, followed by Batgirl in 1967, and both were first written by Gardner Fox. Elements of each character seemed to reflect the growing numbers of young, talented, and independent “career girls” at the time. There was never much interaction between the two, but I think their histories and skill sets would make an excellent New 52 team-up. 

Many of you jumped into (or back into) comics with the return of Barbara Gordon as Batgirl or for the new take on her character starting at #35. In doing so, you voted with your dollars and have made it a great success. So when you saw a cover that showed her in reference to the worst moment in the character’s history instead of in the positive light you were promised, you were vocal about it, getting the attention of DC.

Writer Cameron Stewart took to twitter, agreeing with fans that the cover was not a fit for the tone of the book and fighting for the team’s already beloved vision of Batgirl. After a hash tag campaign, DC agreed, as did the cover artist, Raphael Albuquerque. This led to a lot of discussion about feminism and comics, even resulting in harassment and threats towards those who were against the cover art. DC fortunately decided to listen to Batgirl fans and pull the cover. After observing the debate, I’ve come to the conclusion that DC didn’t do so because of some concern for sensitivity. They did so because they don’t want to lose support in the demographic they have finally started to win over as readers.

And here’s why this is an important victory: it’s a victory against the old dark ages for women in comics and against the worst elements of today’s internet culture. The Killing Joke was published in the 80s, when DC was consciously turning away from the stronger portrayals of superheroines written in the 70s. (If you’ve read the now classic “Backlash” by Susan Faludi,  it’s easy to place in context with the anti-feminist messages from movies and TV in the same time frame.) Supergirl was killed off. Barbara was crippled and sexually assualted for the sole purpose of creating emotional drama for the men in her life- one of the worst examples of reducing a well-developed character to a mere object. The book attracted a certain type of fan who also tended to enjoy other stories of the time featuring the killing, maiming, or depowering of female characters. And for a long stretch of years, those stories were the dominant narrative.

But here’s where the anti female message backfires, and it’s not because of a grand feminist conspiracy. It’s a simple, rational look at the math. If they’re not publishing good female lead stories, female fans drop off. Girls read bronze age comics. Girls watched BTAS in the 90s. But because the Batgirl they loved on screen wasn’t in print, few female bat fans of the 90s ended up buying comics like girls who watched Yvonne Craig did. And actually neither did the male fans, because comic readership predictably continued to decline through the years. Recently, decision makers finally woke up and have made a major push towards appealing to more female readers with titles like the current run of Batgirl. You don’t have to be a feminist to realize a business model that ignores the majority of the population is doomed.

So the internet misogynists can harass the Batgirl fandom, but because they can’t change the facts, they will lose. The comics industry needs to attract more female readership to be successful, and female readers want stories that treat female characters well. Ever increasing numbers of men in the industry and male fans want to see that too, including this blog’s hundreds of male followers.

This particular incident over cover art might not seem so important by itself, but perhaps it’s the moment when we realize the voices calling for positive female images aren’t just the new majority- we are the make or break market demographic. And I’m so glad to be a part of it.

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In another delightful Batman ‘66 story, Bookworm attacks the Gotham Public Library to access a magical book…which is, of course, safely guarded by our favorite head librarian. Barbara is so prepared for this particular threat that she has the needed page marked to be able to contain any evil the book might unleash.

Remember, kids- knowledge is power! Also, don’t underestimate lady librarians!

(From Batman ‘66 #49, written by Jeff Parker, with art by Richard Case.)

Issue #0: "Nice Work"

Sometimes I think that we all have a composite image of our favorite characters, for which we have borrowed elements of comics, animated stories, and live action. And for everything I love about classic Batgirl, there was always one major thing about the comics version of the character that seemed off, one thing that my composite image replaced entirely with the BTAS version. Her Batgirl origin story. 

In the classic origin, which was only slightly altered by 2003’s Batgirl: Year One, she is wearing a homemade Bat costume to a masked ball, then has to swing into action when Killer Moth crashes the party. Now considering the lighter tone of comics in the late 1960s (and the Adam West Batman tv show tie-in), it works for that era. But for a super genius, black belt, college student raised by Gotham’s top cop in the 21st century? Batgirl’s origin was certainly due for a more serious telling, and Gail Simone does it well in this issue. Finally, we have a comics Batgirl who was motivated, from the moment she wears the Bat symbol, to be a real hero fighting to save other people. Not by accident, not in a silly way, but in a serious and deliberate moment that she has already trained herself for.

After Babs takes down the villain, Batman arrives, and instead of talking down to her or being discouraging as in other versions of this story, he says: “You did this?…Nice work.” There was never a reason to make him a jerk towards those trying to join the good fight, and to return to the composite idea, that was not Batman to me. Batgirl and Batman interacting positively from the start was a really good thing to see. And while the ending of the issue left some questions (and an odd take on the costume), this new origin story is a great service to the character. 

Young Justice Girls, Stealing the Show

While most of the episode was focused on the two Roy Harpers and Lex Luthor being the show’s best villain, there was a great subplot with the ladies. 

For the fans who begged for a scene with the characters in civilian clothes, we have the girls meeting up for Raquel’s bridal shower. They are all mourning the “death” of Artemis, toasting towards her empty chair. (Think everyone is going to be mad at Nightwing when the truth comes out?) YJ again easily passes the Bechdel test. 

That’s Babs second on the left, sans any sort of disguise. So at some point, she revealed herself to the rest of the girls. I like the idea of sisterhood secrets. 

But, of course, this will not be an average party. When Captain Cold attempts to rob a bank across the street, our ladies prove themselves to be quick change artists. 

Captain Cold’s response to this awesome display of girl power: “I’m doomed, aren’t I?" 

At this point, I was balancing my morning coffee in one hand, so I couldn’t actually give this moment the applause it deserved. I loved how the episode took the stereotypical female event of a bridal shower and turned it into an opportunity to show how badass these women are. 

anonymous asked:

I like your thoughts about barbara and bruce on Batman 15. Can you expand more on what do you mean by ying yang dynamic. Also what do you think of the rest of the batfamily like jason, tim, nightwing and damian and their with eacthother, with bruce and with Barbara?

Sure! So to condense the main idea of yin and yang would be the balance of equal, opposite forces in harmony with each other. Masculine and feminine in balance and in harmony would be the ideal state of things. In thinking about the relationships in Gotham, and especially with the more balanced and human portrayal of Batman, I realized that Batgirl and Batman had a similar dynamic.

There are equal numbers of male and female heroes in Gotham, with the relationship between Babs and Bruce connecting the Birds of Prey and the Bat-family. And as Batman encourages her to be a great fighter, Batgirl brings out a more compassionate side of him. (The yin within the yang, and vice versa.) She functions as the yin for the Bat-family and brings a humanizing balance.

We haven’t seen her interact with the younger boys as much, but I think that idea could be part of her relationships with each of them in different ways. Tim and Damian could look to her as their female mentor figure, though Jason would probably associate Babs with Bruce and reject both. Nightwing and Batgirl are very different as more-than-friends, but not yet a romance, so the yin idea would happen there on a much closer and intimate level. 

And while the yin-yang symbol is found in ancient Chinese philosophy, there is a beautiful passage in the Bushido Code, discussing the importance of benevolence as a Samurai virtue, which speaks to the same: “If upright rectitude and stern justice were peculiarly masculine, mercy had the gentleness and the persuasiveness of a feminine nature.” Both sides are needed and function best in balance with each other, and I see Batgirl and Batman as personifying it.