Knowledge Is Power
In Detective Comics 489, Barbara’s knowledge of Batman and Robin’s secret identities was erased. Previously they had always been on equal footing. For a long time neither knew who the other was, and Batgirl and Robin discovered each other’s identity at the same time, in Batman Family #3.
The story was controversial, as could be seen in the letter columns of following issues.
Michael R. Pendley wrote:
The Batgirl-Robin team up in DETECTIVE #489 did something few issues in my 3000 plus comics collection have done; it made me mad. Very, very mad. Batgirl is my favorite DC character, hence I found what was done to her in “The Mind Warp Mystery” unforgivable. This story seemed to to be written with one purpose in mind; to erase Batgirl’s knowledge of Batman’s and Robin’s secret identities.
Why can’t Batgirl be trusted with the knowledge of the Gotham Guardians’ other identities? And if Robin deems his own privacy so sacred, what right does he have to know Barbara Gordon’s secret? The story implies that Robin can be trusted with Bab’s [sic] secret, but not vice versa. I never liked Robin, but then I never figured him for a hypocrite. If Robin had any integrity, he should volunteer to erase his knowledge of Babs’ other identity. This can’t be done, of course, so the only viable recourse is mutual trust.
I fervently hope that this change in the relationship between the Gotham Gangbusters will be short-lived. Batgirl, being a great detective in her own right, may well deduce Batman’s identity. Or perhaps Bruce Wayne will have the integrity to tell her. Or perhaps the effects of the mind drug will not be permanent. Or perhaps Batgirl will be inducted into the JLA, where she will suddenly become trustworthy enough to know not only Batman’s secret identity but every other JLA’ers. I feel that the entire secret identity continuity is confused. Why does Robin worry about Batgirl knowing his identity, but doesn’t care the Jimmy Olsen knows it? BG has fought besdie [sic] Robin far more times than Olsen.
The letter column in ‘TEC 489 promised “a new life for Barbara Gordon.” I hope that means removing that twerp Robin from her life. Please reconsider your actions in the “The Mind Warp Mystery.” The Daughter of Darkness deserves far better.
Matt Kurtz felt similarly:
Concerning your Batgirl/Robin team-up, it was very good. … I only have one complaint about it. I thought that it was a little chauvenistic. [sic] If Robin’s memory had been wiped out, would he have re-learned Batgirl’s identity? It would be interesting to see what it would be like if the tables were turned. … And on thing, where does Robin get off thinking that he has the right to tell Batgirl that he would prefer if she didn’t know their (His and Batman’s) identities. I think that Batgirl deserves to know what their true id’s are.
Brian Nelson added:
For some reason I’ve always had a fondness for Batgirl, even though you people treat her like dirt. What do I mean? In the first monthly ‘TEC, you wiped out her memories, but brought them back minus Batman and Robin’s identities. The two guys get to know her secret ID, but they don’t quite trust her with theirs. That’s just marvelous.
Three years later, in Detective Comics 526, Barbara revealed that she had relearned their identities.
Barbara: Of course I know Bruce and you are Batman and Robin, Dick. I’m not stupid—and I am a detective.