It’s likely to be the selfie seen around the message boards–Barbara “Batgirl” Gordon’s selfie variant for DC Comics upcoming selfie comic cover month is already putting avid fans of the comic into a fit. The new Batgirl costume, and team, are a stark departure from the successful fan favorite formula that has been gracing the book thus far. With uber-popular female writer Gail Simone leaving the character that she has, in more ways the one, defined more than any other writer a new creative team is coming on board to handle Batgirl, and with that comes a new character design and a fresh approach.
Generally speaking, when new artists come onto a book you can expect some variations in the way a character’s costume hangs, the way their face looks and so forth, but this is a major overhaul and a step away from the house style dictated by co-publisher Jim Lee insofar as character designs are concerned. At first glance the changes might seem minute and trivial but in a side-by-side and when taking in the character history of Barbara Gordon, one has to wonder why these changes both in-continuity and on the creative end of things.
When you take in these two designs side by side you can see that they are incredibly different takes on the character. You have a character, set in Gotham of all places, going from a suit that is very similar to Batman’s and well armored to an outfit that is essentially a leather jacket and yoga pants. For a character with the injury history of Gordon, this kind of “low armored” costume change makes very little sense, unless she’s trying to encourage cos play enthusiasts to dress as Batgirl.
For those out of the loop, the character spent 20 years as a paraplegic due to a gun shot inflicted through the gut by the Joker in the sorta-in-continuity story “The Killing Joke”. While it is true that Gordon was shot in her civilian identity, while the Joker did not know that he was shooting Batgirl, you would think that the character would want a little extra protection as a character development point.
Of course, there have been Batgirls since then, but the original is back in the cape and cowl again (or snap on cape and helmet-y thing as the case may be), and they’ve made a strong case that she’s moved past the whole “crippled by a gun shot wound thing” but still, why would this make sense? I’ll be honest, I actually kinda dig the design, but the question is “why redesign?” when you have characters wearing armor that really don’t need to be *ahem Superman, the Flash, Green Lantern ahem*.
One might consider that it would be much easier to move around and do cool ninja kicking shit in that kind of costume, but when Gordon was The Oracle, they made the point more than clear that Barbara Gordon has no issue kicking ass desire restraints.
Additionally, it seems that they are shooting for a younger looking Barbara Gordon here, and going for a cuter look rather than a sexier one. It provides an interesting balance as contemporary character Dick Grayson was recently given an overhaul to be a male sex symbol and a super secret spy re-imagining. Is there balance in the events in the Bat-line? Hard to tell, but we do have to give the creative teams some credit here. With Grayson #1 out, and pretty good to boot, we have to hope that the team on Batgirl have their reasons.
So, we have to assume that Cameron Stewart and Brendan Fletcher have a plan here, after all they are the creators. Besides, at the end of the day if the stories are good and the art is well done (which it appears to be), what does it matter? Sure people are sad to see Gail Simone leave the book, but many creative teams are switching up in October. Maybe they’ll breathe some awesome into the New 52 line of DC Comics which have been full of MEH since their launch a few years back.
No matter how good Batgirl has been, isn’t there room for it to be awesomer? We can only wait and see, but until then we might consider that the design isn’t too bad. Besides, Babs is a tough chick. We can probably put our faith in her. Right?