I have mixed feelings about Batgirl. On the one hand she just doesn't "fit" into my adult view of what the Bat-universe should be. On the other hand, having grown up with the 1960s Batman TV series, the Barbara Gordon Batgirl will always be a part of it.
These days I'm fully subscribed to the idea of Batman as a lone vigilante, and very few of the many costumed assistants, sidekicks and allies he's acquired over the years really seem to fit into his world.
The succession of Robins, the various replacement Batgirls, Azrael, the shallow marketing gimmick that is Batwoman - none of them ring true, for me. None of them convince me that they really belong in Batman's Gotham.
There are exceptions. I love that Dick Grayson was allowed to grow into his own man as Nightwing. I love that Huntress is at once a mirror of Batman's own scarred psyche, and a reminder of the tightrope he walks between justice and revenge. And, most of all, I love that Barbara Gordon was able to reinvent herself as Oracle.
I first encountered Oracle in the opening chapters of the "mega-series" No Man's Land, taking charge of the GCPD as everyone else around her fell apart. I hadn't read A Killing Joke back then and so I had no idea how the Barbara Gordon who'd been the original Batgirl had come to be confined to a wheelchair, but her resolve and strength of character captivated me immediately.
It was entirely right that someone who had already had to overcome so much personal tragedy in her life should be the one person with the strength of will to force a sense of order onto the chaos of a Gotham destroyed by earthquake. The moment of emotion she allows herself in Batman: Cataclysm when Harvey Bullock finally declares he's going to look for her missing father James Gordon is one of the very few comic book moments that has stayed with me ever since that first time I read it.
But, however much I love Oracle, and however much I may tell myself that Barbara Gordon's perky, plucky and cheerful Batgirl is as out of place in Batman's world as, say, Stephanie Brown's ditzy Spoiler ... I like her! I'm sure it's partly down to nostalgia for the 1960s TV series, but it's not only that. I also think she was one of the best characters in the recent animated series The Batman (and far less irritating than Robin!) So, when I saw that Eaglemoss had added a Barbara Gordon Batgirl figurine to its DC Comics Super Hero Collection, I couldn't have been more pleased.
Yes, I know there are a lot of Cassie Cain and Steph Brown fans out there who won't be happy to see Babs reclaim the Bat-mantle when the latest DC reboot launches in September, but that's a discussion for another day. For now I'm just happy my collection of Bat-family figurines will finally have the Batgirl it's been missing. You know ... the real Batgirl!