John Ostrander: Savaging Barbara Gordon

John Ostrander

John Ostrander started his career as a professional writer as a playwright. His best known effort, Bloody Bess, was directed by Stuart Gordon, and starred Dennis Franz, Joe Mantegna, William J. Norris, Meshach Taylor and Joe Mantegna. He has written some of the most important influential comic books of the past 25 years, including Batman, The Spectre, Manhunter, Firestorm, Hawkman, Suicide Squad, Wasteland, X-Men, and The Punisher, as well as Star Wars comics for Dark Horse. New episodes of his creator-owned series, GrimJack, which was first published by First Comics in the 1980s, appear every week on ComicMix.

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5 Responses

  1. mike weber says:

    I’m not sure, now that you mention it, how i feel about that aspect of The Killing Joke.

    I do know how i feel about the cut at the top of the column – if she pulls that trigger, that thing is purely going to smash her face.

  2. Wojciech says:

    I asked on Twitter the producer of the animated feature about treating Barbara in their adaptation. The response was that it would be a spoiler if he answer my question. Also, in other answers, he told that case of Barbara was the reason why they waited so long with doing the movie. This gives me a little hope that they doing it now, because they are going to change it. Also, official description says that they will “retell this classic tale in an exciting new way”.

  3. Chuck Dixon says:

    Words of iron. Thanks for creating Oracle and saving Barbara Gordon. John.

  4. Mindy Newell says:

    Well, John, I am obviously in the minority here as a female reader, because I thought THE KILLING JOKE was brilliant! I wasn’t offended by what happened to Barbara; I thought that it represented–and I believe that this is what Alan intended–just how criminally psychopathic the Joker is…a 180 degree turn away from the “funny crazy” Joker of the previous decades…and the inspiration for the late Heath Ledger’s turn as the Joker.

    In terms of what the Joker did to Barbara–again, I wasn’t offended. With what occurs to the thousands (if not millions) of women who live in countries under brutal, misogynistic regimes–rape (and not just by a penis), torture, assault, beheadings, sold into sex slavery–and, hey, let’s not forget the horrible things that happen to women in this country–the story of what happened to Barbara reflected the all-too-real world.

    And what you and Kimmy did, turning Barbara into Oracle, also reflects the world–Malala Yousafzai, for instance, the Pakastani girl who survived the Taliban’s brutal attack to go on and win the Nobel Peace Prize.

    I know too many people who refuse to watch LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT because “it upsets them.” But just as Barbara Gordon as Oracle did so much for the disabled community, books like THE KILLING JOKE and TV shows like SVU have done so much in turning the lights on so that brutality against women no longer survives in a dark cave.

    As for turning it into an animated feature–I can hear the parents screaming for having it banned now.

  5. Zaragosa says:

    Tremendous article, John. I agree with you fully and I’m pretty sure that Alan Moore does, as well. He’s been highly critical of his own work on THE KILLING JOKE, for reasons I believe to be in line with your concerns. The motivations behind why you and Kim created Oracle are truly inspiring; you gave a character back their dignity and made a hero for a terribly underserved community. Kudos to Kim and yourself. And thank you for a fascinating insight on the meaning of the cover of THE KILLING JOKE — that had never occurred to me, but your logic is spot on.