5961 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Operator (Frankie Charles) - Batgirl of Burnside - DC Comics

Operator

(Frankie Charles)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

Frankie Charles was a support character and ally during the “Batgirl of Burnside” era.

Meaning 2015 and the first half of 2016. Meaning the Tarr/Fletcher/Stewart run. Meaning issue #35-50 of the 2011 Batgirl run. Meaning the post-Flashpoint, pre-Rebirth version (if that makes sense).

After that a character named Frankie Charles still appears. The History section is thus current to the end of 2018. But the exact events of the previous era seem to… recede out of continuity ? By 2018 Frankie apparently never was Operator.


Background

  • Real Name: Francine Charles.
  • Other Aliases: There’s a running gag where Frankie wanted to go by “Oracle” but never gets a chance to say it out loud.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: Associate of Batgirl (Barbara Gordon).
  • Base of Operations: Gotham City (Burnside neighbourhood).
  • Height: 5’5½” Weight: 135 lbs.
  • Eyes: Light brown Hair: Black.


Advertisement


Frankie, do you… like movies about cyborgs ?

Near the close of the Batgirl of Burnside era, Frankie suddenly shows up with a sophisticated cybernetic implant. And as it happens, one of the folks named Charles in the DC Universe is a top-notch cybernetics expert. Who already has an history of operating on relatives.

And since identical last names seldom are a coincidence in superhero comics…

It is thus vaguely possible that Frankie is related to Dr. Sarah Charles of S.T.A.R. Lab (a niece, mayhap ?). And thus to Cyborgirl (LeTonya Charles).


Powers & Abilities

Frankie is a solid computer security expert. She does intrusion testing, antiviral clean-ups, firewall programming, etc.. She can also competently pitch in in a number of programming and system administration fields. Frankie tends to code in Wisp (a Lisp evolution).

During this era, her skills escalate from “high-end freelancer” to “magical hacker”. She seems to get close to the level that Oracle (Barbara Gordon) had before Flashpoint.

While both Frankie and Babs can do high-level, high-speed coding their hardware skills are narrower. Therefore, they work with Qadir Ali, an academic robotics engineer. Mr. Ali is exceptionally talented, and provides Frankie with the machines she needs.


Advertisement


H4ck th3 pl4n3t

Ms. Charles occasionally catches underworld rumours. Presumably this is because she spends time in black hat hacking online discussions, and radiated a bit from there.

She’s also real good at playing several genres of video games. And knows some first aid, though the two are *probably* not related.

Frankie has access to cinematic  databases and software. These are often used in movies, TV series and comics to provide a faster, more visual depiction of magical-grade intelligence gathering. Examples include :

  • Real-time data collating and analysis from CCTV and police cameras.
  • Matching photographs of faces against all-knowing databases, to identify persons.
  • Tracking people whose face has been recognised throughout crappy CCTV footage.
  • Using cellphone relays to infer the phone number of a smartphone, based on its exact location. Or to precisely locate a smartphone with a known number.
  • Rapidly finding similarities between random citizens, usually to explain why they have been targeted by the same criminals.

Myodegenerative condition

Frankie was hit by late-onset muscular dystrophy (MD)  during her 20s. This is a degenerative muscles condition that, in her case, starts with her legs.

During her appearances, the impact isn’t severe yet. On most days she can walk and move normally. However, is she’s going out or has to stand for a long while, she’ll have to use crutches. This is to prevent falls from sudden cramping or loss of muscle tonicity.

On a good day, she can just use a cane. On particularly bad days, she’ll have to use a wheelchair.

When doing office work Frankie will usually be in her wheelchair. Since, well, she’ll mostly be sitting anyway.

She also has to keep up with an exercise regimen to protect her leg muscles as much as possible. Exercising is also good to moderate painful muscle cramps from the form of MD she’s afflicted with.

Cyberpunk

At the close of 2015, Frankie gets implanted with large circuitry plugged into her spine, and sitting on her neck. She usually hides it under trailing dreadlocks. Where this implant comes from is unclear, though Qadir is known to have helped in some capacity.

Operator (Frankie Charles) - Batgirl of Burnside - DC Comics - Rigger part 1

This implant comes with wifi and other comms. It allows her :

  • To text with her mind.
  • To take “screenshots” of what she’s looking at. The images can then be treated like any file.
  • To take remote control of specially-prepared systems, using her nervous system. This is similar to what a “rigger” does in cyberpunk  RPGs. In Frankie’s case, she mentally gives orders to her vehicles, who do precisely what she meant.

Her telepresence vehicles include :

  1. Batgirl’s heaviest motorcycle, which Frankie essentially “haunts”. This is her main asset, loaded with sensors, comms, weapon systems and other gadgets.
  2. Five tri-rotor small drones. She later experimented with other designs with a single shrouded rotor and more cameras.
  3. Small, vaguely crab-like robots that can “hack” a car or truck engine. These are normally deployed using a disposable rocket launcher. The mini-robot has to physically enter the engine, but it will then locate the CPU and interface with it. Obviously, it won’t work on older vehicles.

Soundtrack

I was going to evoke 2015… no, not Uptown Funk again dangit… Maybe some Weeknd or — better — some Kendrick Lamar. It was the year of masterful album To pimp a butterfly, after all.

But during the five-or-so rewrites for this entry I kept getting an older Gomez tune stuck in me head.

 

Available for download on Amazon .


History

Francine Charles met Barbara Gordon shortly after she was diagnosed with late-onset muscular dystrophy. Frankie was crying in an hospital waiting room, where Babs was waiting for scan results to assess spinal gunshot damage.

The two became friends over their shared technical culture and medical issues.

Buds

When doing physical therapy together, Barbara taught Frankie martial arts techniques to exercise and relax her legs. This helped Ms. Charles deal with being unable to conduct some of her favourite activities, such as dancing or athletics.

(These events are a retcon . They happened at an unclear point during Babs’ Oracle career. But they fit in without trouble – it’s not like the comics documented every hospital visit and physiotherapy session of Ms. Gordon’s. When first seen Frankie stated that she’d met Babs three years before but heh, comic book time.)

Frankie and Babs kept in touch. Charles was thus present when Gordon (a.k.a. Oracle) sunk into unhealthily obsessive behaviour and wrote cutting edge predictive policing  code. Frankie couldn’t convince Barbara to drop this totalitarian project.

They then lost contact for a bit. Barbara had left the US for South Africa for cutting edge experimental surgery, which allowed her to walk again. She thus returned to her Batgirl identity.

Frankie says relax

After a long and involved clash with Knightfall (Charise Carnes), Batgirl took a break. By this point, Frankie was living in Burnside, a rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood outside of Gotham proper. Crime and supervillain activities were far less prevalent there than in central Gotham.

Operator (Frankie Charles) - Batgirl of Burnside - DC Comics - Babs makeup

They decided they’d co-rent. Babs then returned to college for post-grad work in urban geography modelisation. And Frankie started working for a startup called Hooq, a Tinder-like dating app.

However, security at Hooq became a major pain in the boot sector. Servers had been attacked by an undocumented, relentless virus messing with the app’s functionalities. Ms. Charles spent her days and nights fighting it – especially since M&A buyers were now approaching Hooq.

She eventually hired freelance friends to help, including a GCPD coder who sort of knew Barbara.

Hooqed on a feeling

Francine eventually discovered that the virus was based on old code of Barbara’s. This A.I. was essentially a duplicate of Gordon’s brain.

It had gone rogue, and was using Hooq to gather extensive data about everyone. This data was used for predictive analysis of whom might become a criminal or accomplice. Meaning most people.

The “Barbara Gordon” ghostcomp  captured both Barbara and Francine. But they managed to free themselves. As Batgirl was keeping their enemy busy on the physical front, Ms. Charles locked it out of most systems and managed to purge it, now that she understood its nature. This saved thousands of lives.

Frankie thus learned that Barb was the famous Batgirl.

As a present, she cleaned up the old A.I. code, allowing Gordon to reuse her software engine for her thesis work. But this was in part because Frankie wanted to become a super-heroine, which Barbara was averse to.

Bat-jacent

During the disastrous takeover of Gotham City by the Joker, Batgirl focused on holding the bridge leading to Burnside. This was :

  1. To keep the thousands of infected citizens contained in downtown Gotham.
  2. To have a secure checkpoint to evacuate the uninfected.

Operator (Frankie Charles) - Batgirl of Burnside - DC Comics - All nighter computers

Frankie provided Batgirl with monitoring, intelligence and comms during the crisis. But Barbara apparently insisted that she do so from a safe, remote site. Francine’s work was invaluable in saving Tiffany, Lucius Fox’s kid daughter.

Ms. Charles later burned her shoulder while attempting to help Batgirl deal with Livewire (Leslie Willis). This made Barbara even more reluctant to have Frankie work with her, to Ms. Charles’ frustration.

Frankie then was approached by Foxtek, Luke Fox (Batwing)’s company. Since Hooq was, as she put it, dunzo. Fox also recruited Qadir Ali, a robotics expert Batgirl had been working with.

Barbara wanted to help with Luke hiring Frankie, but by this point Charles had decided otherwise.

How we operate

Frustrated that Batgirl didn’t let her in, Frankie briefly stole her cowl. She used it to anonymously approach Mr. Ali so they’d work together on improving Batgirl’s equipment. Qadir also added telepresence solutions to it, for Frankie to use.

Ms. Charles also cleared Qadir’s name, as he had been framed by the Velvet Tiger (Lani Gilbert). Mr. Ali then apparently helped implant Ms. Charles with a spinal emitter. It allowed Frankie to move prepared vehicles using her nervous system.

Their tech soon proved invaluable. By taking remote control of Batgirl’s motorbike, Frankie saved her from the Velvet Tiger. She also supported Spoiler (Stephanie Brown) and Bluebird (Harper Row) when they worked with Batgirl, as well as Black Canary (Dinah Drake Lance).

Ghost in the machine

When Batgirl was being manipulated by the Fugue (Vinton Burwell), Frankie was instrumental in rescuing her. She jacked into Babs’ neural implant to gain a direct access to her brain, and took with her the cleaned-up version of the Barbara Gordon brain patterns/AI copy.

Operator (Frankie Charles) - Batgirl of Burnside - DC Comics - talking with Babs

But the Fugue had left extensive mental security in place. And, as Frankie feared, the AI rebelled again to claim that she was the real Barbara Gordon. However, using an idea from Black Canary, Frankie fused the AI with the actual Barbara. This restored Gordon’s correct memories.

Though The Fugue had manipulated super-villains into helping him, Batgirl’s crew took them down. In particular, Operator hacked a Batman combat robot from the GCPD, and used it to take down Corporal Punishment.

Once the Fugue was defeated, Charles added layers of defensive software to Gordon’s neural implant.

We’re in the money, the skies are sunny

Like most of Barbara’s friends, Frankie joined her Gordon Clean Energy startup. However, overwhelmed by all of her activities, Babs almost ceased being Batgirl. This led to Operator taking over, with Spoiler, Bluebird and Black Canary as her field agents. But almost all of this occurred off-panel .

Barbara briefly became Batgirl full-time again to stop the Gladius terrorist organisation – with her full crew, plus Vixen (Mari McCabe). This worked, but Gordon now realised that she had to make choices or burn out. Therefore, she had her close friend Alysia Yeoh take over as CEO.

Frankie was presumably the head of software security, and continued to work as Operator to keep Burnside safe.

(The Fletcher/Steward/Tarr era ends there, at the latest. By this rough point, Frankie’s past as Operator starts inexplicably vanishing.)

Amène pas ta gang

Though Babs left to go backpack in Asia, she remained in contact with Frankie. However, during that time, rents in Burnside doubled as gentrification set in.

Operator (Frankie Charles) - Batgirl of Burnside - DC Comics - Retro arcade games

Meanwhile, Frankie’s relationship with her new girlfriend, Malaya, was getting serious. After conferring with Barbara, Frankie moved out to live with Malaya in a more affordable neighbourhood.

But this didn’t work out. Frankie ended up moving back in with Barb. She also expanded her responsibilities at Gordon Clean Energy to help Alysia.

On the other hand, she didn’t seem active as Operator anymore. One suspects that the gentrification of Burnside brought enough police presence to make vigilantes unnecessary.

(By this rough point, it seems that Frankie never was Operator. It is possible that most of the events of the original Burnside era have… vanished ? I can’t tell. But she’s purely supporting cast. There’s no notion that she could help Batgirl, even when Babs direly needs it.)

In 2018, along with Alysia, Frankie assisted Batgirl against Harley Quinn. Quinn set a weird “game” for them, but it wasn’t genuinely dangerous. It was more meant as political activism, in an Harleysian fashion.


Soundtrack

Okay, I love Gomez. But this writeups without some 2015 Kendrick is just too weird. So, something that fits Frankie.

 

Available for download on Amazon .


Description

Ms. Charles is in her mid-20s, with a contemporary casual wardrobe and a dreadhawk. She’s pretty good with makeup, which will be readily visible when she dolls herself up.

She has light freckles under her eyes and across her nose. Francine also owns quite a few pairs of large golden earrings, in various styles.

Frankie prefers mini-shorts and mini-skirts. The intent is presumably to show off her legs and emphasise her not-inconsequential rear end.

When working as Operator, she seems fond of a red-fading-into-white, hooded tracksuit vest with a “52” over the right breast.


Personality

Frankie is a friendly, sharp, woke, cool lass. However, she also seems to be something of a workaholic – during many of her scenes in the series, she’s working overtime.

Frankie is bi, though in practice she’s mostly interested in women. But in *actual* practice she doesn’t seem to get much action beyond drunken after-party one-night stands. Since she’s working all the time, as per the previous paragraph.

Operator (Frankie Charles) - Batgirl of Burnside - DC Comics - Rigger part 2

Ms. Charles occasionally goes to work in cafés when she’s tired of being in her apartment. One such scene features an amusing cameo of Pearl and Garnet from Steven Universe. As per tradition, she drinks a lot of coffee.

Though she’s a good friend and means well, Frankie’s certainly not conflict-averse. If she doesn’t like something, it will most definitely be known. And if she thinks she’s right, she’ll escalate rather than back down.

Frankie originally didn’t like Dinah Lance much, as she acted cranky and sarcastic. But this eventually improved. In no small part because Dinah looks real hot.

Null coalescing operator

Francine was determined to be active on the super-hero scene. She had no problem taking risks and wanted to *act*, and help people just like Batgirl does. Though that was one of her big characterisation beats, it just vanished when the book re-re-rebooted.

Thus, during 2017-2018, Batgirl goes through arduous fights and Operator simply doesn’t exist. Likewise, Babs’ bike doesn’t have any of Frankie and Qadir’s systems, Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia, Han shot first, Saddam could launch WMDs within 45 minutes and there never were funerals for Letty.


Quotes

“OMG yes ?! I thought you’d never ask !”

“Tough day today. These new Hooq updates are coming up faster than I can keep up. The code’s getting really complex. […] But if I’m gonna suffer through squashing endless strains of malicious code, you’re *damn* right I’m gonna enjoy my night off.”

“I’m making the *same* choice you did all those years ago when you put that bat-symbol on your tights. I’m choosing to help. I’m not made of glass. I can do this.”

“Tracing all existing lines in the area now. Bluebird, can you do a non-invasive tap to get a look at what we’re dealing with ?”


Sharing



Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Operator (absolute peak, in mid-2016)

Dex: 02 Str: 02 Bod: 02 Motivation: Thrill/Responsibility
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 04 Occupation: Computer security expert
Inf: 03 Aur: 03 Spi: 03 Wealth: 005
Init: 009 HP: 025

Powers:
Eye of the cat: 15, Interface: 07

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Both Powers only with especially-prepared systems. These must include a full, high-end telepresence suite.
  • Both Powers are achieved through a cybernetic implant. Which is more vulnerable than, say, a psionic  Power would.

Skills:
Artist (Video games): 04, Gadgetry: 03, Medicine (First Aid): 02, Scientist (Computers, Research): 10, Thief (Security systems): 03

Advantages:
Expertise (Computer security), Familiarity (Make-up).

Connections:
Batgirl (High), Qadir Ali (Low), Black Canary (Low), Underworld (Low), Spoiler (High), Bluebird (Low).

Drawbacks:
SPR (Usually needs crutches, cannot rely on her legs or conduct strenuous physical activities with those). She also seems slightly nearsighted, but it’s not significant.

Equipment:

  • All of the smartphones, all of the laptops.
  • For the motorcycle, see the germane Batgirl character profile. But it is Frankie’s main asset.
  • A typical eye-in-the-sky small drone has [BODY 01, Flight: 07, Miniaturisation: 02, Telescopic vision: 02] and possibly specialised optics such as thermal. Operator will usually fly a triad or quartet for redundancy, coverage and redundancy.
  • An engine-hacking, vaguely-crab-like robot has [DEX 02 STR 00 BODY 02, Accuracy (Self, ranged): 06, Cling: 02, Interface (No Range): 04 Miniaturisation: 04]. The Accuracy is used when shot from a rocket-launcher – they’re self-aiming. The Interface can only be used on an automobile engine driven by a CPU (so, most cars and trucks that ain’t 20+ years old).
    The robot is small enough to enter truck engines through the front grille. For cars, there likely is some sort of torch to cut through the hood and access the engine block.

Operator (Frankie Charles) - Batgirl of Burnside - DC Comics - Cyberlink


Frankie Charles (as simple supporting cast)

Dex: 02 Str: 02 Bod: 02 Motivation: Thrill/Responsibility
Int: 03 Wil: 04 Min: 03 Occupation: Computer security expert
Inf: 03 Aur: 03 Spi: 03 Wealth: 004
Init: 008 HP: 005

Skills:
Artist (Video games): 04, Medicine (First Aid): 02, Scientist (Computers, Research): 05

Advantages:
Familiarity (Make-up).

Connections:
Barbara Gordon (Low), Qadir Ali (Low), Alysia Yeoh (Low).

Drawbacks:
SPR (Usually needs crutches, cannot rely on her legs or conduct strenuous physical activities with those). She also seems slightly nearsighted, but it’s not significant.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Batgirl comics during one version of the 2010s.

Helper(s): Darci.

Writeup completed on the 15th of December, 2018.

Writeups.org is a non-commercial, community site

We chat and work at the DC Heroes Yahoo! group .