Nerd Alert: Batgirl #19 @GailSimone

Yesterday morning as I was waking up I thought that it has been a while since my last Nerd Alert and I was really wanting to do another one. Little did I know (mainly because I try not to read spoilers) that I would read one of the best issues of comics in the New 52, and that it came from Batgirl.

I have always had a love hate relationship with the New52 Batgirl. First of all I am a Stephanie Brown fan through and through and getting rid of her as Batgirl (and from the DCU altogether) was heartbreaking for me. I also loved Barbara as Oracle and I truly feel that we have lost one of the best characters in the history of comics, but I still picked her up. The first year was a bit rocky for me mainly because Batgirl I felt was a wimp. As we all know Barbara was shot and paralyzed by the Joker and was in a wheelchair. She became Oracle the info jock of the DCU for all of it’s heroes and an intellectual counterpart to Batman. With the reboot they gave her back her legs through a miracle surgery. Well in the first chunk of issues she just kept whining about her new legs, and how she was scared to lose them again and all the remorse she felt by being able to walk while so many don’t. It got incredibly redundant that I almost dropped the title.

Thank god I didn’t.

I believe it was Issue 10 (the bear trap issue) where I felt something shifted. It was if Gail Simone had heard my cries and flipped the switch because I felt Batgirl changed. She became so much tougher and so caring to others. She started to just kick ass and also didn’t talk about her legs anymore. She was back and better than ever. Not to mention she kicked major ass during the Death of the Family crossover and now with her brother James Jr. back in town terrorizing her, Barbara was taking no prisoners. And she didn’t by defeating her brother in a fight, breaking his spine (not on purpose) and hitting him the in the eye with a batarang.

However this isn’t why Batgirl 19 has gone on my list of best issues, it’s because of the reveal of Barbara’s roomate Alysia as a transgender woman. On the page, Barbara came back home and told Alysia everything about her (except the batgirl part). Nothing was off the table, joker, her brother all of it. Alysia in turn told her that she was a transgender.

I lost my shit. I literally jumped out of my chair and squealed and my roommate was wondering why I was freaking out so we both read the panels again and bounced around a bit. This is SUCH a huge deal. LIKE HUGE! I know I’m new to the nerd world but I have read a lot and done a lot of my homework (mainly supplied by my nerd dad and superstar artist Stephen Sadowski) and I can’t ever really remember  a trans character. Sure there are some characters who switched bodies, or are shape shifters of had some form of magic affect their gender, but I can’t recall a non powered character make such an impact. Barbara’s reaction was also just as incredible, it was incredibly human. Taking a moment and then just saying to call her Babs, the people she loves call her Babs. It was an incredibly emotional moment in comics for me.

With only one main LGTBQ character with her own title (the PERFECT Batwoman, which you must read) having a trans character up front is a huge step for DC and it’s TOTALLY a Gail Simone move. She is a big supporter for the LGTBQ community and posts frequently in the Gay League FB group, she has also been hinting a lot at a trans character for sometime. I didn’t notice it at the time but hindsight is 20/20 of course. She is also one of my favourite writers having penned the brilliant Bird of Prey in the old DCU, as well as Secret Six. Both of those titles are on many top 10 lists. She has a two major titles coming out in the next couple of months including The Movement which she said there is a lot of diversity with it’s characters (maybe more LGTBQ characters) and also Red Sonja, the She Devil with a Sword. She is also back on as writer for Batgirl after a 2 months hiatus because DC made a BIG mistake and the internet went MENTAL when they heard. So yeah Gail is at the top of her game (and her Twitter is one of my favourites you must follow her @GailSimone).

I’m so excited for Batgirl and for Alysia. I hope that Gail keeps her up front and center in Barbara’s personal life because this is one of the most important moves in comics right now even more important than the death of Damian Wayne, because this is about acceptance and about breaking down barriers, and there’s not better ally than Gail Simone to knock em down.

Thank you Gail.

Follow me on twitter and we can geek out some more! @TommyD