On Cyberspace and the New Batgirl

The shoe that I’ve been fearing to drop since last week dropped today.

The new Batgirl in the DC Universe will be Barbara Gordon, not Stephanie Brown.

Batgirl_12_by_ArtgermFor me, that’s a big deal. I mentioned in passing last week that I absolutely adore the current Batgirl series. I didn’t want to love it — Stephanie is one of the DC characters I most want to write, and I had a pretty specific vision for what I would have done with the character — but the book is just… so… charming that it was impossible not to love. If I have one complaint with Bryan Q. Miller’s writing, it’s that he writes Steph as being a little more inexperienced at crimefighting — and a lot more unsure of herself — than she really should be, but that’s a minor quibble.

It’s a fun book, and now it’s going away. Barbara Gordon is going to be in the cape and the cowl. Barbara Gordon who was paralyzed by the Joker in The Killing Joke and who has made herself into the DC Universe’s pre-eminent computer hacker, Oracle, so that she could continue to be a hero, despite being confined to a wheelchair.

Flashpoint is making major changes to the DCU. Even the Batman milieu isn’t immune from its effects. Yet, Grant Morrison’s mega-story arc will continue in the post-Flashpoint universe. I speculated last week that, perhaps, Batman, Inc. is Batman’s plan for dealing with the post-Flashpoint world.

Then, on my way home from work tonight, an idea occurred to me. I think I may have squared the circle. I think I’ve figured out the Batgirl problem. To wit…

How can Barbara Gordon be Batgirl in a Grant Morrison world?

Since we know that Batman, Inc. is returning next year (and the Batman of Africa will be getting his own series), elements of the Grant Morrison masterplan are still in play in the post-Flashpoint DCU.

To the longboxes! Go back and look at Grant Morrison and David Finch’s Batman: The Return, specifically page 15.

Bruce Wayne has returned from his journey through time, and he has assembled his “team” — the Dick Grayson (Batman), Tim Drake (Red Robin), Stephanie Brown (Batgirl), Damian Wayne (Robin), and Barbara Gordon (Oracle). He gives each of his team their “marching orders,” a dossier with his plans for each of them.

Barbara questions her dossier.

Bruce: “In spring next year, WayneTech is announcing Internet 3.0.” A pause. “I want you to be my Ghost in the Machine. You’ll have access to cheat codes, vehicles, and weapons no one else has. Oh, and feel free to customize your avatar — design divison…”

The third panel shows Bruce’s rough concept for Barbara’s Internet 3.0 avatar. It’s a heavily modified Batgirl costume with lots of ridges and seams, and it has a Batpod-like bike.

The next panel shows Stephanie, and she also questions her dossier. “You want me to enroll in a finishing school in England?”

It’s not Stephanie holding the Batgirl design page in the third panel — Stephanie is in costume (hence, gloved), and the woman’s hand holding the Batgirl design has painted fingernails. By process of elimination, it’s Barbara looking at the Batgirl outfit.

So what if Bruce’s plans for Internet 3.0 come to fruition and Barbara Gordon becomes a cyberspace hero in the new DCU — and what if Batgirl is her avatar? And what if Stephanie follows Bruce’s instructions and goes to England?

Now that we know for certain that Morrison’s masterplan is still on, looking back at Batman: The Return offers some intriguing possibilities for the Bat-corner of the DCU.

Not only that, but setting Batgirl in a TRON-like world has definite advantages. Gotham City will have another redheaded Bat-heroine, Batwoman, which will finally be launching a solo series in September. Is there really a need for two redheaded Bat-heroines with very similar costumes kicking ass in Gotham City? If Batgirl is mainly about cybercrime and Batgirl is a cybernetic hero, the book would have a very different hook from Batwoman.

Did I square the circle? Or is this just wishful thinking?

Either way, I’ll pick up the first issue of Batgirl, no doubt.

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