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How Batgirl Was Retired to Prepare for The Killing Joke

This is "In The Spotlight So Clear," a feature where we spotlight times in comics where characters need to be cleared out of the way to make room for a new status quo. Like, for instance, you want to introduce a new Captain Superhero, you might want to first get rid of the previous Captain Superhero. Stuff like that.

This time around, we see how Batgirl had to be retired to prepare her for her tragic attack in The Killing Joke.

As I'm sure you know, in 1988, Alan Moore and Brian Bolland released The Killing Joke, a one-shot that told two stories. One of them was a possible origin story for the Joker that involved a hapless young married man getting roped into a robbery and ending as the Joker and the other is the Joker deciding that he wanted to demonstrate that what happened to him could happen to anyone. The Joker believed that his turn to villainy was a result of him simply having one really bad day. Therefore, to test his theory, he figured he would give Commissioner James Gordon a really bad day. If his theory was true, even someone as virtuous and as noble as Gordon would snap under the awfulness of it all.

The really bad day involved kidnapping Gordon and torturing him physically and mentally, but it also involved watching Gordon tragically watch his daughter, Barbara Gordon, be shot in front of his eyes...

The injury left Barbara paralyzed. Eventually, she would turn to her computer skills and become the superhero known as Oracle. However, at the time, there were no plans for the character. The Oracle stuff came later when John Ostrander and Kim Yale looked into whether the character was free for them to give a better future.

As you might imagine, you can't just write a story where Barbara Gordon gets shot. You have to clear it with DC and Moore did so and he got approval. Not only that, though, DC decided to clear things up with Barbara's career as Batgirl before she was paralyzed.

Now, interestingly enough, even before Crisis on Infinite Earths, Batgirl was not used that much. She had a stint as a back-up feature in Detective Comics, last written by Barbara Randall, but that ended with Detective Comics #519 in 1982...

One of her last regular appearances came seven issues later, in Detective Comics #526, celebrating Batman's 500th appearance in Detective Comics. She teamed up with Robin...

As Crisis on Infinite Earths began, she felt like she was barely even a hero, as she told to Supergirl in DC Comics Presents #86...

She would later deliver the eulogy at Supergirl's funeral...

So she was out of commission for a number of years before Crisis on Infinite Earths got her back into costume, but notably, she was NOT in costume after Crisis. So, in effect, she had to go into costume for the first time for them to set up her DEPARTURE from being Batgirl!

This set up a weird comic book...

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