Batgirl and Female Superheroes in Comics
Wherever the Superman family of titles goes, the Batman franchise follows. That’s actually pretty weird when you think about it these days, considering that the properties centered around the Batman family of titles within DC Comics’ line has actually become their top cash cow by a long shot. I do actually have an explanation for why DC Comics keeps shoving the Big Blue Boy Scout down nerds’ throats up to this day more than they do with the Dark Knight Detective, and it’s not because – as nerds are liable to say – “because Superman is such an inspiration! Boohoo!” That, however, is a whole other story for a different time. Today, I’m here to talk about yet another trope used in the always expanding world of mainstream superhero comics, which is none other than gender-swapped variations of well-known properties. To be specific, I’ll be blabbing on about characters like the original Batgirl, Barbara Gordon. And no, Kate Kane isn’t the original Batgirl, so shut your mouth and let me do my thing.
As with how Supergirl was introduced to the world of Superman to rake in some valuable, valuable profit, Barbara Gordon was introduced for the same reason as well. To be fair, however, all properties that were, are, and are going to be introduced in mainstream superhero comics are done so for that same reason, so we’re going to need a bit more clarification here. You see, if you think that women and minorities are underrepresented in mainstream funny books these days, then you will surely pop a vein in your pockmarked forehead if you look at the situation during the Golden and Silver Age of comics. Back then, the majority of female characters were relegated to romance comics and not only that, but they also almost only always play very submissive roles –the kind that’ll make today’s feminist froth at the mouth and take to the streets. Yeah, you could chalk it up to the times, so there’s that. And, no, you might say that I’m wrong because Wonder Woman was already around during that time, but then I’ll just laugh at your face at how uninformed you are about that character’s history.
Now, because of the comics industry being more or less targeted at male audiences during the time, it was only natural for publishers to come up with a way to get their grubby hands on the then-untapped demographic of women. After all, that’s half of the potential profit they could be making. As such, female heroes like Supergirl and Batgirl were introduced. Come to think of it, publishers like DC probably had dollar signs for irises when they thought of doing this when you consider that not only are they going to be able to shill new characters to women, but they’ll also be upping the sales from male readers considering these are prepubescent boys we’re talking about. Nothing beats a boy’s imagination when it comes to their fantasies.
Of course, nowadays things are relatively better, what with a lot of the female characters being portrayed in a more proactive role.