I don’t necessarily love everything about the issue of The Brave and the Bold that the first scene here comes from, but I couldn’t help but notice this parallel and thought it was kind of interesting.
A lot of people seem to interpret Dick as having been really hung up on Barbara’s past, but personally that’s not my take on it. I think that when they’re being written well, what Dick does for Babs is he reminds her that that part of her life isn’t over - she can still dance, and she can still fly, and she can still have fun and do the things that make her feel free and happy and alive. She’s changed and grown up a lot, it’s true, but that doesn’t mean she needs to let that side of herself go.
So the people who interpret Dick as being hung up with the past (including writers like Devin Grayson) are getting it wrong, IMO. Dick isn’t hung up on the fun they used to have, he’s focused on reminding Babs that having that kind of fun doesn’t need to be in the past.
There’s a lot about Dixon’s characterisation of Dick, and Dick/Babs, that I dislike. (First and foremost, Barbara doesn’t need to be Dick’s first or only love to be important, and de-aging her to fuel this misguided notion is downright offensive.)
But! I think he struck a great balance in Birds of Prey 8 that a lot of writers miss.
It’s not about recapturing who she used to be. That’s not who Dick loves; he loves Oracle. And Barbara is more than content with the life she’s built, with the person she’s become.
But that doesn’t mean she’s perfectly happy, or that she never struggles. At this point, she’s still - she puts the mission ahead of anything else in her life. It’s harder for her to just relax and have fun; to just be Barbara. And Dick knows that.
The woman I’m talking to isn’t Batgirl or Oracle. It’s Barbara Gordon.
At this point, she hasn’t got a lot of people doing this. Dinah still doesn’t know her name. She hasn’t met Ted yet. She loves Cass and Tim, they’re family, but they’re also kids. She loves her dad, but he has no idea that she’s Oracle. Bruce is Bruce.
Dick knows all of her. And he has some experience in reminding people who they are behind the mask, of casting some light in the shadows.
Their relationship has its ups and downs. Personally, I don’t see it working long-term as a romance. But it’s so important for her to have Dick, and people like Dick, in her life. It’s not about trying to be Batgirl again, it’s about not forgetting Barbara.