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Batgirl Reading Order: Your Guide to Batman’s ally (from Barbara Gordon to Cassandra Cain)

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Batgirls DC Reading Order

Batgirl. One of the most quintessential allies of Batman. Originally created by Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff, the initial incarnation of the character first appeared in Batman #139 (April 1961), presented as a female counterpart to our famous superhero. Under the costume at the time was Betty Kane, the niece of Kathy Kane (aka Batwoman) but the character simply disappeared in 1964. Batgirl was reintroduced in 1967, with Barbara Gordon under the mask, destined to become the more iconic Batgirl.

Batgirl is a crime-fighter in Gotham City who regularly appeared in Detective Comics, Batman Family, and several other books produced by DC until 1988. Barbara Gordon decided to retire from crime-fighting, before seeing her whole life being transformed by the Joker. It changed Barbara Gordon’s trajectory and at the same time, Batgirl’s trajectory. In 1999, in the storyline “No Man’s Land“, Batgirl is back in action as the mantle is finally assumed by someone else. It’s not long after that that Batgirl headline, for the first time since her introduction, her own title.

Throughout the years, several characters have held the mantle of Batgirl, from the most famous Barbara Gordon to our favorite trained assassin Cassandra Cain. Discover all the Batgirls with the following guide.

Where to start with Batgirl?

As DC reminds us, the butt-kicking hero named Batgirl has been a vital part of Batman’s team and a role model for girls everywhere, squaring off against mobsters, assassins, super-villains and more. Though many young women have worn the cowl—from unassuming librarian Barbara Gordon to deadly mute assassin Cassandra Cain to teen vigilante Stephanie Brown—all have made their distinct mark on the DC Universe. The company celebrated Batgirl for her 50-year anniversary with an omnibus collecting the best of Batgirl stories. A perfect way to become more familiar with the famous sidekick. A perfect way to become more familiar with the character.

  • Batgirl: A Celebration of 50 Years
    This collection spans 53 years — from 1961 to 2014 — beginning with the debut of Betty Kane, the original Bat-Girl. Collects Batman #139; Detective Comics #359; Batgirl: Year One #4; Detective Comics #371; Detective Comics #422; Detective Comics #423; Detective Comics #424; Batman Family #9; Detective Comics #518; Detective Comics #519; Batgirl Special #1; Batman Chronicles #5; Birds of Prey #8; Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #120; Batgirl #8; Batgirl #45; Batgirl (Volume 3) #4; Batgirl (Volume 3) #13; Batgirl (Volume 4) #0; Batgirl (Volume 4) #35.

Betty Kane as Bat-girl - Batgirl reading order

Betty Kane, the Silver Age Batgirl

Meet Betty Kane, our first Bat-girl (with a hyphen), part of the Silver Age era. She was introduced, with Batwoman, as a way to counter the accusations of a homosexual subtext between Batman and Robin. Both of them were created to serve as romantic interests for our dynamic duo.

The teenage niece of Batwoman (Kathy Kane), Betty decided to fight crime after discovering her aunt’s dual identity. Like Robin, she’s a bright, enthusiastic, and athletic young woman. As she didn’t live in Gotham full time, she was quite limited in what she could do, but she was still generally determined to prove herself.

In the end, she didn’t really have the time to reveal all her potential, as Betty disappeared, along with Batwoman, in 1964. She came back in the 1970s and joined the Titans West. But Crisis on Infinite Earths happened, and Bat-Girl was no more after that,  and Betty became Bette, known as Flamebird for her short time.

Recommended Reading (for all the lovers of the silver age, don’t hesitate to offer your recommendations in the comments):

  • Batman #139
  • Batman #153
  • Batman #159
  • Detective Comics #322
  • Teen Titans #50-52

Barbara Gordon as Batgirl

Barbara Gordon, the most famous Batgirl

The first “Batgirl” without the dash, Barbara Gordon is also the most famous Batgirl of them all. Created by television producer William Dozier, editor Julius Schwartz, writer Gardner Fox, and artist Carmine Infantino, Barbara Gordon first appeared in the pages of Detective Comics #359 published in January 1967. As she was the by-product of the Adam-West Television show, following a request by Schwartz who wanted a new female counterpart to Batman, she was introduced into the television series in September of that same year, in the season 3 premiere of Batman.

Barbara Joan Gordon is the daughter of Gotham City police commissioner James Gordon (or niece, depending on which continuity) who first worked as head of the Gotham City Public Library. Her motivation for becoming a vigilante superhero was completely altruistic and didn’t need help from Batman and Robin to catch bad guys. What Babs can lack in resources (she doesn’t have Bruce Wayne’s bank account), she compensates for everything else. She’s a skilled martial artist and has a genius-level intellect and a photographic memory. If it wasn’t enough, Barbara is also a computer wiz. 

In the end, Barbara Gordon is a fighter, a woman full of compassion but who can punch hard if needed. Like Dick Grayson with Robin, Barbara Gordon helped defined what being a Batgirl means.

Recommended Reading:

  • Batgirl Year One – This re-imagining of Batgirl’s origins by Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon (the duo behind Robin: Year One) is a perfect entry point for the character and it’s considered one of her best stories.

Depending on what you like, you can then read one (or both) of those runs:

  • Batgirl Returns – After more than 20 years as Oracle, DC rebooted its universe with New52 and reestablished Barbara Gordon as Batgirl with Gail Simone as the helm of the series, in which Babs is struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • The Batgirl of Burnside – Needing a change, Batgirl moves to Burnside under the creative team made of Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr. It gives a more youthful, lighter and social media-savvy Batgirl series.

To know more about Babs, check out our Barbara Gordon reading order.

Helena Bertinelli as Batgirl

Helena Bertinelli, Temporary Batgirl

An earthquake hits Gotham, and the government chose to evacuate and then abandon and isolate those who chose to remain in the city in the No Man’s Land event (see reading order here). As Bruce Wayne leaves the city to lobby the government to continue aid to Gotham (he fails), the people of Gotham think Batman has abandoned them. More commonly known as Huntress, Helena Bertinelli decides to help Gotham by assuming Batman’s role. She stitches herself into a Bat-costume (which will later become Cassandra Cain’s iconic costume).

For a short time, Helena Bertinelli holds the mantle of Batgirl, but as Batman’s crazy high standard even in a time of massive crisis gets in the way, Helena chooses to give up the Batgirl costume in order to fight on her own terms — instead of having to blindly follow Batman’s order. Not long after, Bruce Wayne offered the role of Batgirl to Cassandra Cain and gives her the costume.

What to read:

  • Batman: No Man’s Land Omnibus Vol. 1 
    Collects Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #116-121, Azrael: Agent of the Bat #51-57, Batman #563-568, Batman: Shadow of the Bat #83-88, Detective Comics #730-735, Catwoman #72-74, Robin #67, The Batman Chronicles #16-17, Nightwing #35-37, Batman: No Man’s Land (Collector’s) #1, Batman: No Man’s Land Gallery #1, and Young Justice In No Man’s Land #1.

To know more about Helena, check out our Helena Bertinelli reading order.

Cassandra Cain as Batgirl

Cassandra Cain, the first Batgirl with her own series

Created by Kelley Puckett and Damion Scott, Cassandra Cain made her first appearance in Batman #567 (July 1999), during the No Man’s Land event. She then became Batgirl with Batman and (most importantly) Oracle’s blessing and got her own solo series.

Cassandra Cain is the daughter of David Cain and Lady Shiva, two deadly assassins. She was raised to be the ultimate weapon, and to achieve that, her father never teach her to speak or read. She has also been deprived of human contact in her childhood, in order to make body movement her first language. Her training gives her the capacity to read body language and predict her opponent’s next move. In short, Cass is the most lethal member of the Batfamily. And like all members, she is devoted to protecting human life.

Recommended Reading:

  • Shadow of the Batgirl – This original graphic novel by Sarah Kuhn is a reinterpretation of her origin story and the perfect way to be introduced to the character.
  • Batgirl (Volume 1) – Cassandra Cain headlines the first Batgirl solo title, penned by Kelly Puckett and Damion Scott.

To know more about Cass, check out our Cassandra Cain reading order.

Charlotte Gage-Radcliffe as Batgirl

Charlotte “Charlie” Gage-Radcliffe, the Second Temporary Batgirl

Created by Gail Simone and Nicola Scott, Charlotte “Charlie” Gage-Radcliffe made her first appearance in Birds of Prey #96. She drew Barbara Gordon’s attention when she decided to fight crime using the Batgirl name, completed with a homemade costume.

Charlie has superpowers, as she can teleport, accelerated healing, and superhuman strength. She’s also a big fan of Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl and wanted her approval to become the new Batgirl. Instead, Barbara tried to talk out of becoming a superhero, which she failed. Charlie accepts to stop being Batgirl, but not fighting crime. She became Misfit after that.

What to read:

Stephanie Brown as Batgirl

Stephanie Brown, the snarky Batgirl

Created by Chuck Dixon and Tom Lyle, Stephanie Brown made her first appearance as a plot device in Detective Comics #647–649 (June-July 1992). The daughter of the third-rate villain, the Cluemaster, Stephanie wanted to “spoil” his plans and became the vigilante named Spoiler as a result. Her road crossed paths with Batman and Robin, and she became a foil and a love interest for Tim Drake. When the latter quit being Robin, Steph took for a short stint the mantle. Stephanie was heavily trained by Batman and got martial arts training from Batgirl.

Stephanie Brown has a whole superhero career before becoming Batgirl, a mantle she took after Cassandra Cain gave her the costume. If Barbara wasn’t on board at first, Steph proved quickly that she was worthy of the name, and Babs allows her to continue as Batgirl, even designing her a costume and training her.

Of all the Batgirls, Stephanie is the most snarky one. Not brooding like Batman doesn’t mean Steph is not an intense and driven person. On the contrary, she had to prove her value more than once and had to fight for her place in the family.

Recommended Reading: Stephanie Brown’s run as Batgirl has since been reprinted in two trade paperbacks:

To know more about Steph, check out our Stephanie Brown reading order.

Batgirls Volume 1

Who’s the current Batgirl?

Three Batgirls for the price of One! Right now, Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown star in the team-up book Batgirls—under the mentorship of Barbara Gordon, the original Batgirl! 

Last Updated on January 18, 2024.

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