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This bio is provided courtesy of Miskey's Batgirl/Oracle Page and is used w/o permission at this writing. He's got a wonderful page, go visit it.

Most of this info is also available in the Batgirl issue of Secret Origins, with a wonderful pencilling job by Rick Leonardi

Barbara's first dabblings in the hero business were the stuff of childhood fantasy. While her best friend Marcy came up with the roles, Barbara became them, dreaming of becoming a superhero -- Rocketgirl! Marvelousgirl! Supergirl! or maybe... Batgirl.

Now retconned to be the neice of James Gordon, Barbara lost her mother in an automobile accident when she was only a preschooler, then slowly lost her father to grief and alcoholism. He died when she was a preteen, and she was forced to leave Marcy & her Ohio childhood behind to go and live in Gotham City with her Uncle James and Aunt Barbara.

And there she discovered that her uncle (who became, soon after, her adoptive father) was no ordinary policeman. He knew -- was maybe even friends with -- the Batman! Inspired by equal parts hero-worship and ambition, she set out the very next day to train herself to become his partner and did not waver from her goal for the next several years until college and more "grown-up" dreams sidetracked her.

But fate -- in the guise of Killer Moth -- intervened. To surprise her father and to relive the childhood excitement of pretending to be a superhero, Barbara had designed and made a fully-functional "Batgirl" costume to wear to the policeman's masquerade ball, but on the way there, she happened upon Killer Moth's attack on Bruce Wayne and instinctively leapt into action. She provided enough of a distraction for Wayne to slip away and become Batman and the two heroes met for the first time.

For the next few years, wherever Barbara's "real life" took her, Batgirl went, too. As Barbara, she was the head librarian of Gotham Library and eventually became a congresswoman as well. As Batgirl, she had wild adventures, captured all sorts of villains, teamed up with the original Robin on a number of occasions, and eventually won the Batman's respect and became one of the few to know his true identity -- both equally impressive achievements.

Batgirl appeared in very few post-"Crisis on Infinite Earths" stories, and as a result, most of her pre-Crisis adventures are still considered "canon" until retconned otherwise. Examples of the exceptions to this would be her friendship and adventures with the pre-Crisis Supergirl -- though it has been speculated that the self-doubts she had about her effectiveness as a superhero which led to her retirement as Batgirl a few months before her crippling encounter with the Joker were a direct result of her feelings of failure at being unable to save Supergirl. She didn't remember the cause of those feelings, post-Crisis, but the feelings remained to undermine her self-confidence, just as her near-fatal (and pre-Crisis) encounter with Cormorant also played a role in her decision to retire.

Her old friend Marcy turned up in her life just at the time she was seriously questioning her effectiveness as Batgirl and during Marcy's visit, "The Last Batgirl Story" took place. She conquered the foe she feared most -- Cormorant - and was able to put Batgirl behind her with no regrets.

But, of course, the final nail in Batgirl's coffin (so to speak) was driven in by the Joker ("The Killing Joke"), and the awful irony of it was that the Joker was, in effect, gunning for Commissioner Gordon and for Batman and did not even know that he had crippled his past opponent Batgirl. She only mattered to him in this scheme because he could use her -- Barbara Gordon -- against her father. This did not help her battered sense of her own effectiveness at all and she spent the next several months physically recuperating as much as she could while also hiding from the world, feeling defeated and useless. It wasn't until she discovered how powerful a tool the computer could be in her expert hands that she found her new purpose in life and her new identity: Oracle.

Oracle is, without question, one of the most fascinating characters in the DCU. Physically confined to a wheelchair, she is intellectually unrestricted by any barriers. The superheroes of the world come to her time and again to handle the tasks too big for their superpowers. She is a presence throughout the world, watching, tracking, and getting involved, via her operatives and allies, where she believes her and their combined skills could help out.

As personal computers and the Internet became more prevalent in everyday life, Oracle became more and more interesting and useful. She was a largely-unseen quasi-member of the Suicide Squad for sometime early in her career -- a gig which gave her even more connections in interesting places than she'd already had as Batgirl (for those of you keeping track, Oracle's first appearance was in Suicide Squad #23). She is one of the few heroes -- along with Robin & Nightwing -- who operate within the confines of Gotham City with the Batman's blessing and encouragement. She was his first draft pick for membership on the latest JLA team, and "sits" at the round table, taking her place as the team's resident Athena -- the goddess of wisdom, appropriately enough. Oracle is also one-half of the Birds of Prey, working as a team with the Black Canary, handling more covert operations than the more traditional heroes ventured to take on.

"Birds of Prey" is a unique book in the DC stable. First, while Black Canary has had the occasional mini-series, "BoP" marks the first time Barbara Gordon is given a lead feature in a monthly publication. It is also one of the few books in which the women get a chance to shine with nary a male hero in sight - "Wonder Woman" being the only other DC book like this. Unlike Wonder Woman, however, the two leading characters rely on their intelligence and other natural abilites - there are no super powers in "Birds of Prey". Lastly, the book has (so far) tackled more "human" issues (slavery, industrial corruption, political prisoners) than one generally sees in a super-hero book, proving that there's more to being a "hero" than being "super". For Babs fans, "Birds of Prey" also finally gives actual on-going plotlines concerning Oracle. Rather than being content with her occasional cameo in just about every DC book every published (sadly, even her appearances in JLA, a group of which she is a member, are few and far between), fans can now read about the person behind the Oracle visage - a person who flirts during an online cyber-romance, a person in love with another hero (Nightwing, of course!), a person who has been dealt a crushing blow and must carry on with her life no matter how hard or how fearful it may be. Barbara Gordon's Batgirl may have been initially created as a "female Batman", but Barbara Gordon's Oracle is now one of the most exciting DC characters to read.