Batgirl and her fellow Gotham City heroes have saved countless lives. But they can’t save everybody, and in a city that many of the world’s worst calls home, there are always going to be moments where you question whether you’re making any difference at all. Such is the place Barbara Gordon finds herself in at the start of this week’s BATGIRL #25, an extra-sized anniversary issue that features the debut of Batgirl’s new creative team of Mairghread Scott and Paul Pelletier (along with contributions from writers Paul Dini and Marguerite Bennett and artists Tom Derenick, Dan Panosian and Emanuela Lupacchino). Is there any point to saving a life when someone like the Joker can, without a second thought, so quickly end it a week later?
If this sounds a bit more serious to you than Batgirl’s been of late, you’re not exactly wrong. With Scott’s debut, Babs will be taking on a slightly different direction as she says goodbye to Burnside, gets an updated costume (in the upcoming issue #27) and is reunited with a classic Gail Simone-era villain. In fact, it’s such a turning point for Batgirl that we asked Scott if she’d answer a few burning questions about where the book is headed, and as a bonus, put together an exclusive sneak peek for you!
When we first catch up with Barbara in your contributions to Batgirl #25, she’s in a pretty troubled place. What’s going on there?
We wanted to tie into the events surrounding the Batman/Catwoman wedding. I tried to think of a way to express the hopelessness and confusion Babs must be feeling for Bruce, and so I channeled that into a story about the groom Batman failed to save in BATMAN #48. Turns out, Batgirl knew him and attending his funeral becomes a test of her commitment to being a hero as well as a way to work through the grief surrounding the wedding (not-wedding) itself.
You contributed two different stories to the issue, and I noticed that the idea of “love” seems to be a running theme in both of them (as well as in Marguerite Bennett’s story). Was that by design? What role does love play in Barbara’s world?
I hadn’t thought of that. I think more than ‘love,’ I wanted to talk about ‘value’ in both stories. Who is valuable? Who isn’t? Why? Between being Jim Gordon’s daughter, being Batgirl, being Oracle and being herself, Babs is a person who has seen how quickly people can become “disposable” or “worthless,” and I think she fights to make sure people’s inherent worth isn’t determined by how useful they are to someone else.
Your second story, and your upcoming arc, brings back Grotesque, who’s a villain from Gail Simone’s Batgirl run. Why did he feel like a good adversary for your first storyline?
I wanted to literally tie into that era of comics because we’re moving Batgirl to a similar, darker tone. But he also has this obsession with “art” that becomes deeply personal to Babs. In our version, Grotesque is killing people and making them into “art” projects. Since Babs has literally been assaulted to make a similar “work of art,” this kind of thing is deeply offensive to her. But the general callousness of Grotesque is also an affront to Babs’ values, so he’s a villain who really tells us who our hero is.
What can we expect from him as the story continues?
I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in expectations. This arc has a lot of twists and turns in it, so just try to hold on!
But we can expect a darker, more mature series going forward? You can sense that even from your two stories here.
Yes. But I don’t want Babs to lose her inner light, I just want to make it a little harder to hold on to.
If Batgirl is saying goodbye to Burnside, do you think she has a parting message for her friends there?
I wouldn’t think of things that way. We’re not abandoning what happened to Babs in Burnside or the great characters there (though in our first arc you won’t see much of them, just because of the nature of that story). Gotham proper is only a bridge away from Burnside and while I want to move forward with Babs, fans shouldn’t worry that Frankie and the gang are going to disappear forever. I like them too much.
BATGIRL #25 by Mairghread Scott, Paul Dini, Marguerite Bennett, Paul Pelletier, Tom Derenick, Dan Panosian, Emanuela Lupacchino and others is in stores this Wednesday.