Barbara Gordon is nothing less than comic book royalty, not because she gained her mantle from one of the most famous superheroes in history but because she's been kicking criminal butt in Gotham for over 50 years. From her silver age introduction to her rebirth as the iconic "woman behind the screen" known as Oracle to her contemporary comics status as Batgirl of Burnside, Babs has been on quite a journey. But after a globe-hopping trip in her last run, Batgirl is headed back to Gotham. Three new issues debut this month, including an annual and Batgirl #25, a special oversized anthology book that leads into a brand new arc from writer Maigread Scott and the art team of Paul Pelletier, Norm Rapmund, Jordie Bellaire, and letterer Deron Bennett. To celebrate the month of Batgirl, I chatted with Scott about taking on one of the most iconic characters in comics and pushing her to the edge.
Scott is an incredibly talented writer, but it was still an overwhelming process coming to grips with the idea of writing one of the most famous characters in comics. "It's definitely nerve-racking because you've got big shoes to fill and you don't want to mess it up," Scott said. "Also, it was a very long interview process, which gave me a chance to find my voice with Babs and what I liked about her and what I didn't. It's all just a high-wire act of trying to balance bringing a new facet to the same diamond. I want it to feel like it's Babs, but I want readers to be able to tell that it's Mairghread's Babs."
When it comes to taking on a new world and a new point of view, there are often little things that surprise you. For Scott, it was a personal connection that she never could've seen coming. "I didn't expect to see so much of my mom in Babs. I always thought of her being a smart and influential character, especially when I found out about the implant in her brain," Scott explained. "That just got me thinking about my mom because she was a woman who made her living off her mind—very smart, very organized, and always has a plan for the worst case scenario. I started seeing these same patterns in Babs. She's someone who always has a plan A, B, and C."
Babs might be a legacy character but it was her differences that really excited her new writer. "In a weird way, to me, she has more balance than Bruce, like the fact that Babs wants to have a life and still be a superhero," Scott told me. "She doesn't change much between Babs Gordon and Batgirl. She doesn't have to change herself or act in a different way. Babs is just always Babs, and that kind of honesty I just really like. It feels weirdly in a lot of ways that Gotham is a city of closed fists, and it seems really radical that Babs is always approaching people with an open hand."
As our exclusive pages show, Scott, Pelletier, Rapmund, and Bellaire have crafted a truly scary villain with their vision of Grotesque, and for Scott it was vital to create an antagonist with conceptual connections to Babs' past. "DC wanted something with a darker tone, something that put her in line with the other Bat-books, especially as they wanted her to come back to Gotham," Scott said. "So I liked the idea of using Grotesque because of his connection to art, which might seem weird but I found that to be important to Babs, because of what happened to her in The Killing Joke. People being used as objects, disposable things in art. Grotesque really believes that people are disposable and things are important, whereas for Babs things are disposable and people are important, and that becomes an important contrast point."
Having been lucky enough to read the first two entries to the new Batgirl canon, we were surprised to see how dark and horror-tinged Scott and co. have decided to go for their story. "More and more my writing verges towards horror, and DC said, 'Push it!' so I was like, 'Okay,'" Scott laughed. "In the annual, I feel like we got really dark. It's a weird thing to talk about because you don't want to be like, 'Oh, it felt really natural to write these terrible people.' It's tiring to be in a sicko's mind for a really long time, but luckily Babs is there."
With all three new Batgirl comics coming out in one month, there's a lot to look forward to in the world of Barbara Gordon, and for Scott it's all about fans meeting her version of the other caped crusader. "I'm just so excited for people to get the flavor of this Babs because I want her to feel like the Batgirl we've been seeing for the last couple of years, but under the most pressure I could possibly put her under," Scott said. "We'll see what starts to crack and what doesn't, and see her try and hold onto that hope. We really get to explore that in the annual and the first arc. You know Gordons don't give up and Babs won't give up!"
Batgirl #25 is out Wednesday, August 15
Images: DC Comics, Header image by Rafael Albuquerque