Batgirl is the name of several fictional characters appearing in comic book published by DC Comics, frequently depicted as female counterparts to the superhero Batman. Originally created by Bob Kane and Sheldon Moldoff, the first incarnation of the character, the "Bat-Girl" Betty Kane, debuted in Batman #139 (1961) as the sidekick to Batwoman. Following the promotion of Julius Schwartz to editor of the Batman-related comic book titles in 1964, the Bat-Girl character was removed from publication (along with Batwoman) and replaced by the "new" Batgirl Barbara Gordon, police commissioner James Gordon's daughter, in late 1966. This version of Batgirl was introduced in Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino's Detective Comics #359, entitled "The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl."
The Barbara Gordon Batgirl proved vastly more popular than the earlier Bat-Girl and made regular, in-continuity appearances in DC comics from late 1966 to 1988. The official retirement of Batgirl took place in Batgirl Special #1 (June 1988), which was published a few months after Barbara Gordon's shooting by The Joker in the graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke (March 1988). Editor Kim Yale and comic book author John Ostrander later reinvented Barbara Gordon as Oracle, the premier information broker of the DC Comics Universe and leader of the Birds of Prey organization. The Barbara Gordon Batgirl still appears in all-new stories that take place either in "the past" or out of continuity.
In the 1999 story Batman: No Man's Land, Helena Bertinelli briefly assumes the role of Batgirl until she is stripped of the identity by Batman towards the conclusion of the story for violating his stringent codes. Within the same year, a new character introduced during the No Man's Land series, Cassandra Cain, created by Kelley Puckett and Damion Scott, becomes the fourth Batgirl, and she is mentored by Batman and Oracle. Cassandra Cain was the first version of the Batgirl character to be featured in an eponym monthly series, which was published from 2000 to 2006, ending with Cain relinquishing her title as Batgirl. During the "Headhunt" arc of the Birds of Prey comic book series, the Charlotte Gage-Radcliffe character created by Gail Simone temporarily took the name of Batgirl, but was eventually forced to abandon the role by Oracle and subsequently adopted the alias "Misfit." Subsequently in the pages of Teen Titans, Cassandra Cain reclaimed her former identity as Batgirl.
Batgirl has also been the title of two comic book series (as well as two mini-series) published by DC Comics.
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