Robin hasn’t been Batman’s only sidekick. He’s had quite a few others, and that’s what this post is about! One important alter ego has been the mantle of Batgirl. Like Robin, this identity has been taken up by a few different people.
Here’s a quick look at the different women who took on the mantle of Batgirl and what they brought to the vigilante table.
Batgirl #1, Oracle: Barbara Gordon
Barbara is the daughter of Commissioner Gordon, who worked with Batman often. Barbara decided she wanted to help Batman out and started assisting him in taking down criminals, donning her own suit, and calling herself Batgirl. While Batman initially didn’t accept her help, she eventually became part of the team, and often teamed up with Robin.
Depending on the universe, she either started while she was a teenager or while she was in college. After getting shot by the Joker and becoming paralyzed from the waist down, Barbara then became Oracle, acting as a type of hacker/tech support for Batman and his team. She eventually recovered and went back to being Batgirl.
Barbara is incredibly smart, stubborn, and likely one of the toughest girls out there. She also has a big heart and is willing to help those in need. She basically ends up joining Batman and Robin because she wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Where to start
Barbara first appears as Batgirl in Detective Comics #359 and as Oracle in Suicide Squad #23. If you want to see a more modern version of her, check out the Batgirl series from the New 52 Multiverse.
Batgirl #2: Cassandra Cain
The daughter of an assassin and a martial arts master, Cassandra was trained by her father to be a master killer. However, after her first kill at age 7, she realized she didn’t want this life and she ran away from her father and wound up being homeless for 10 years. She was eventually taken in by Barbara Gordon and became the 2nd Batgirl. This happened sometime after Barbara was crippled and became Oracle.
Cassandra gave up the Batgirl mantle after Bruce’s “death,” and eventually officially passed the mantle on to Stephanie. In the Batman, Inc. series, she took on the role of Black Bat.
Due to her early training and experiences, Cassandra is fairly reserved. She’s definitely the quiet, thoughtful type, but she does have a wry sense of humor. She’s dependable and ruthless in her fighting, but she also has a kind personality.
Where to start
Cassandra first appears in Batman #567, and her first appearance as Batgirl takes place in Legends of the Dark Knight #150. If you want to see her as Black Bat, check out Batman, Inc. #6.
Huntress, Batgirl #3: Helena Bertinilli
Helena first appeared as Huntress, but briefly took on the role of Batgirl. She witnessed the murder of her family when she was eight years old. After she learned more about the murders, she became Huntress and started tracking down the men who killed her family.
While in Gotham, she briefly took on the role of Batgirl and found that she liked it more than her Huntress alter-ego. Unfortunately, she soon gave up the mantle after having an argument with Batman where she refused to take his orders. She did end up becoming good friends with Barbara and Tim, and she eventually became a member of the Birds of Prey.
Helena is a little more violent than the others and has no qualms about killing. She’s driven by revenge and her family’s murder. She does also have a strong sense of justice and is willing to go to great lengths to take down criminals.
Where to start
Helena debuts as Batgirl in the comic No Man’s Land. If you want to see her in action as Huntress, check out the mini-series Huntress: Year One.
Robin #4, Spoiler, Batgirl #5: Stephanie Brown
Stephanie initially shows up as the vigilante Spoiler. She then becomes Robin after Tim is forced to give up the mantle by his father. She also does end up dating Tim on and off for a while. Due to not following Batman’s orders, Stephanie was kicked out as Robin and then took up the mantle of Spoiler again.
After causing a city-wide gang war, she was captured, tortured, and nearly killed, where she was then exiled to Africa with Leslie Thompkins to recover. When she returned, she was given the mantle of Batgirl by Cassandra.
Stephanie Brown is the only person who has carried the titles of both Robin and Batgirl.
Personality: Stephanie is quite mature for her age, due to having to be on her own a lot, and she has a bit of a temper on her. She tends to be a little reckless.
Where to start: Stephanie first appears in the three-part story arc in Detective Comics #647-649, which is a good place to start. If you want to start with her time as Batgirl, check out her own series, starting with Batgirl #1 (2009).
These women all brought something different to the Batgirl persona. Some were violent, some were calculating, and some were reckless. But they all had their own unique personalities and their own relationships with Batman, dysfunctional or not. They also brought a great diversity to the Batman universe, showing that girls can kick butt too. So, whether you like to see Batgirl in action with the Bat Clan, or on her own adventures, she’s a great hero to follow!