June 7, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #422: Misfit

What Misfit lacked in training or raw power or social grace when she was with the Birds of Prey, she more than made up for with raw enthusiasm.

I mentioned in last week’s Black Alice write-up the character of Misfit, saying I would have to cover her this week.

Well, here’s Misfit, a character from roughly the same time period who, unlike Black Alice, seems to have completely disappeared.

Misft, real name Charlotte Gage-Radcliffe, first appeared in Birds of Prey #96 under the superhero alias of “Batgirl” because, well, no one seemed to be using it at the time.  At the least. she had the mask and the general look right, and with her long red hair sticking out of the back of her cowl, she was easy to mistake for Barbara Gordon.  Only Barbara was Oracle by then and hadn’t been Batgirl since her paralysis.  However, this Batgirl was nothing like the original.  Or any other Batgirl as it turned out.  This one had superpowers in the form of enhanced strength and teleportation.  Likewise she had accelerated healing that worked faster as she teleported.  Prone to shouting “DAARRRRKKK VENNNGEANCE!” as she swung into battle, this new Batgirl seemed like someone who could get herself killed or something if she wasn’t careful.

Oh, she also managed to get into Oracle’s clocktower headquarters without setting off the alarms, and not even Batman could do that.  That’s probably where she learned who the Birds of Prey all were and tried to join the team.  That would eventually happen, but not until after Oracle learned her real name and turned her down, largely by showing the wannabe Batgirl Stephanie Brown’s autopsy photos.  Charlotte, scared, swore not to do what she was doing anymore which mostly meant she stopped calling herself “Batgirl”.

As it is, Barbara did learn Charlotte’s backstory from Spy Smasher.  Charlotte had been growing up in a poor neighborhood in Metropolis with her single mother when a fire in their building broke out.  Charlotte could teleport, but she couldn’t teleport other living things besides herself.  She was able to save herself but not her mother.  Seeing as how Charlotte was an orphan, she was invited to join the Birds under the codename “Misfit”.  There she’d mostly clash with Black Alice while learning the hero trade.

There’s something to be said for Black Alice and Misfit’s dynamic.  At one point, the two teens were enrolled in the same school where the goth Black Alice was popular while Misfit was, well, not.  Since Black Alice seems to prefer to be by herself, this sounds like a case where there was one teenage girl who was a loner by choice and the other by social exclusion since she lacked any and all necessary social skills.

Now, as much as Black Alice keeps popping up and Gail Simone used Misfit quite a bit, Misfit hasn’t really made too many appearances since the New 52.  In fact, Wikipedia only lists one.  This is a character who was included as a potential member of the Teen Titans, and one storyarc that had corrupted adult versions of the Titans in various adult alter egos showed Misfit there as a future Huntress, but I personally didn’t realize it until that Huntress swung into battle while shouting about dark vengeance.  And as battle cries go…that one didn’t really fit the character’s personality at all.  She wasn’t about dark vengeance.  Despite her tragic upbringing, she mostly just wanted to be a superhero and hang out with friends.  Her powers were eventually revealed to be magical, meaning Black Alice could borrow them, but why has Misfit disappeared while Black Alice has hung around?

My guess is Black Alice’s powerset loans itself out more to interesting stories.  Misfit can be a fun character, but her powers are, to put it bluntly, a little generic.  That or only Gail Simone could quite get her voice right.  Either way, I probably wouldn’t mind seeing Misfit again.

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