Too Many Long Boxes!

End of Summer

The Homeowners' Guide to Babs Repair

By Michael Hutchison

Recently, someone on Chuck Dixon's message board asked if Barbara Gordon might have the chance to walk again.

As I understand it, the problem with Barbara Gordon is that she's actually missing part of her spine. Thus, recent real world fixes (such as those recently discussed in an issue of Wired) and the comic world fixes devised by Lex Luthor that allow Gangbuster to walk would not work on Babs.

HOWEVER, what's missing from "Birds of Prey" is not a Babs-gets-repaired issue, but the attempts to do so. She's got a best friend who is not only a humanitarian billionaire but is no doubt wracked with guilt that the Joker, his enemy whom he's allowed to live WAY too many times, did this to her in order to hurt Commissioner Gordon and, through Gordon, him. Yet Bruce Wayne has never been shown trying to devise solutions, and that's an oversight.

You also have Babs interacting with people like Superman, J'onn J'onzz and other aliens from advanced cultures. (Look at Adam Strange: his adopted world has the technology to repair Jack Knight after he's fried to a crispy curl!) Given that we humans may have a way for people like Babs to be fixed in 100 years or so, is it really credible that no advanced alien cultures have a way to fix spinal injuries…or that JLA member Batman wouldn't at least be making inquiries?

Of course, the Kryptonians' answer to bodily harm was to grow three clones of you at birth, thus having spare parts handy. It's a gruesome prospect…and here on our planet Earth, we're very close to crossing that frontier ourselves! (Scary to think that, when John Byrne intro'd the concept back in the "World of Krypton" mini-series, I thought it was just a parallel to our abortion battles; now we're on the verge of cloning, too!) Which brings up the matter of Superman and Cadmus. To Superman's ethical code, cloning is repugnant. He remembers Kryptonian history, in which wars for clone rights ravaged his planet. Nonetheless, cloned material is a possibility within the DCU…and perhaps the Cadmus Project scientists have a way to grow a new spinal column for Babs without growing another human being and ripping it out of her.

Or perhaps not. Perhaps that is the only choice for Babs, and she has to decide whether she could live with that solution. As you can see…there are possibilities, all of which could lead to some powerful scenes in "Birds of Prey".

So far, Barbara's been offered quick fixes in exchange for (A) selling her soul to Neron, and (B) selling out the JLA to Prometheus, neither of which she'd ever accept. There isn't even any tension in awaiting her answer. A much better story will come sometime in the future, when she receives an offer from a friend that she might possibly accept but that carries its own ethical dilemmas or risks. We shall see.

All characters are ™ DC Comics
This column is © 2000 by Michael Hutchison
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