ICYMI: Frankie Charles Finally Gets A Superhero Codename In Batgirl #50, And It’s Not What You Think
Barbara Gordon's network of friends and allies has been an ongoing theme in the recently concluded Batgirl run by Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr. Whether it's Black Canary, Spoiler, Batwing or Bluebird, there's no way Batgirl would have been able to overcome the obstacles she overcame without a little help from her friends.
One of Batgirl's fiercest allies throughout the run has been Frankie Charles, Barbara's roommate whom she met while they were both in physical therapy together. Although Frankie still often requires assistance to walk, that doesn't stop her being an integral part of Team Batgirl, and in the most recent issue she finally got a superhero identity.
From early on in the team's run, fans have been hoping and predicting that Frankie would fulfill the role of Oracle, which was once occupied by Barbara Gordon in the pre-Flashpoint universe. Frankie is genius level hacker driven to help her network of superhero friends by providing support from home and doesn't let her disability get in the way of her ability to save the day, so she seemed like a natural fit.
However, in Batgirl #50, the creative team bucked expectations in the best way possible when Frankie stepped in to save Bluebird and Spoiler from the villain Corporal Punishment, and she did so in style. Wearing one of the decommissioned robot suits from Jim Gordon's time as Batman, Frankie bursts in to save the day, and in one of many video game themed match-up screens, her new codename is unveiled.
Frankie Charles is now Operator.
It works so well for Frankie because its an identity that is wholly her own. Superhero comics often fall into the trap of having women or people of color step into the roles and identities of established white characters, and as such they're always compared to and can never quite live up to those standards. Jane Foster and Sam Wilson are both phenomenal characters, but do an image search on the names Thor and Captain America and see how you have to scroll to find them.
Batgirl #50 sticks the landing in its finale in a way that most superhero books only dream of, and sets up an ongoing status quote for Barbara and her team that is really exciting. Let's just hope with DC Rebirth around the corner, that status quo, and Frankie's role in Batgirl's life, aren't forgotten about completely.