While Robin ends with Tim Drake coming into his own as a hero, Birds of Prey finishes with Barbara Gordon losing her identity.
At the end of the series, Babs has to blow up her second headquarters in two years. She’s faced the Joker again, only to get knocked around. She’s faced Calculator and seen him literally attain new heights while she’s left in the dust. Her team is hated in their new town, and while they manage to disperse the criminal syndicate they were running, they can’t shut it down. She’s lost a friend, possibly permanently. All in all, this is a low point for her.
The different approaches to the two series make sense. Tim is a young hero and former sidekick, so his series need to see him reach a new level of independence and maturity. Babs is well-established, and has to find some new direction. Her new direction is hinted at in the upcoming mini-series, Oracle: The Cure. I know, I know, the name is supposed to be a reference to curing a sick little girl. Still, either Babara Gordon is going to record a cover of Boys Don’t Cry, or DC is teasing us with the possibility that Babs is going to walk again and Cassandra Cain is going to have a little battle for her own cowl.
I hate being brought face-to-face with my bias as a comics reader. The Robin series ended in a way which I didn’t approve of, but which made sense dramatically. Tim Drake became a competent and autonomous hero while having to give up some of the things he’d loved as a child. Couple that with the death of his last parental figure and you’ve got a strong, archetypal coming-of-age story. I hate it.
Barbara Gordon quitting the team she established and nurtured, leaving a kid she semi-adopted, walking again, giving up her identity as Oracle and possibly stepping back into the shadow of the bat is wrong. It’s backwards motion, it’s erasing her identity, it’s losing her place in a larger universe. And yet I cannot find it within myself to hate it. I’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t happen. I need it. I love it. I want it.
I want fun! I want the original Batgirl and her adventures. At the very least I want more mini-series!
There is a lot to be said for comics that are committed to a story, rather than bowing to popular opinion. But honestly, I don’t want to take my comics the way I take multi-vitamins. If there’s an Oracle mini, I’ll be there. If it breaks in the middle to make Barbara Gordon Batgirl again, I’ll be there and tearing at the shelves. Pander to me, DC. Pander to me.