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Comic Book / Batgirl (2011)

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No school like the old school

They use a lot of different words to describe me. Intense. Driven. Exceptional. But I know what they really mean. They mean I'm weird. Dad worries about me, since Mom left. We filled that gap, somehow. Me, my Dad, and my brother, James, Jr. Our weird little family, and the odd little obsession we share, like twisted moths. We can't stay away from the darkness.

Batgirl was an ongoing monthly comic book series published by DC Comics beginning in September 2011 featuring Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, a masked crimefighter operating in Gotham City. The series was initially written by Gail Simone and drawn by Ardian Syaf.

Barbara Gordon was the second (but best known) bearer of the Batgirl title (after Bette Kane) when the character was introduced in 1966. However, she retired from the position and was later crippled by The Joker in the 1988 Alan Moore story The Killing Joke. The title was passed on to several other women, some with Barbara's approval and some without, while she reinvented herself as the tech-savvy Oracle. Oracle served as an information broker and hacker for the various heroes of the DCU, she was reintroduced in the Suicide Squad and eventually starred in Birds of Prey, an ongoing series created by Chuck Dixon and eventually written by Gail Simone that continued in two volumes until the New 52 relaunch of the DC line in September, 2011. After the relaunch Barbara Gordon regained the use of her legs and reclaimed the Batgirl title.

The Batgirl series opens with Barbara already re-active as Batgirl, having recovered from her paralysis, though the initial issue does not explain the circumstances of her recuperation. The timeline has been compressed so that only three years have passed since she was shot by the Joker, and she is still getting used to having full mobility again and facing villains directly. Her first supervillain foe, calling himself "Mirror," is killing people who survived fatal situations, and includes Barbara Gordon herself as a target.

In October 2014, Gail Simone left the book and a new creative consisting of writers Cameron Stewart, Brendan Fletcher, and artist Babs Tarr take over the book. Now called Batgirl of Burnside the trio gives the series a brighter focus with a new costume for Barbara to go with the shift in tone.

As part of DC's Rebirth initiative, the series received a sequel in 2016, also titled Batgirl but known unofficially as Batgirl (Rebirth).

Contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, the star of the series.
  • Alliterative Name: Among the supporting cast are Melody McKenna, Cherise Carnes, and Sally Sarasota. The new Ventriloquist's backstory involves a man named Rainbow Rodney.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing
  • Another Story for Another Time: In issue #0, Barbara reveals she retired from the hero business one year after becoming Batgirl because she "messed up", but that was a "story for another time".
  • Apologetic Attacker: Issue #6 opens with Batgirl fighting Bruce Wayne and unsure of how exactly she should treat the situation. Each time she manages to hit him she apologizes, and explains that she did not mean to.
  • Arch-Enemy: Batgirl says that Charise Carnes, a.k.a. Knightfall, is pretty much this for her in #29. After Gothtopia, they appear to be on relatively good terms, enough to ask for help on occasion if absolutely necessary, but Barbara later decided that there was no way to cooperate with Knightfall. The "Deadline" story arc with #32 to 34 is Barbara and Knightfall's major showdown.
  • Backstory Invader: A memory-altering villain called Fugue persuaded Barbara that he was an old schoolbuddy of hers named Greg.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The crossover with The Night of Owls, which ends with the Owl Symbol being broadcast into the Gotham sky instead of the Bat Signal, with Barbara commenting that they might have just lost the city.
  • Bat Deduction: Batgirl manages to deduce Gretel's identity based on the number "338" and the fact that she only loaded her .38 revolver with three bullets. She was Lisly Bonner, a young reporter who tried to get information on the mob and was discovered and shot three times with a .38.
  • Bag of Spilling: Batgirl of Burnside begins when a fire at Black Canary's house destroys her van, current suit, and her equipment. It ends up being started by a failsafe being accidentally triggered in the van.
  • Bat Family Crossover:
    • Told part of the Night of the Owls, which ran through all Gotham-based books and told the story of the Bat-family's conflict with the Court of Owls.
    • One issue took place in Gothtopia, which saw Gotham City transformed into a brightly-lit utopia.
  • Batman Gambit: In the crossover with the Night of Owls, the Court of Owls forbids James Gordon from activating the Bat Signal in order to prove to the citizens of Gotham that there is nobody to rescue them. James, being James, refuses to cowed by their threats and activates the signal...which was what they wanted, since they knew he would never bow to their pressure and they had replaced the Bat-logo with the Owl symbol.
  • Bat Signal: Barbara narrates that she hacked into her father (Police Commissioner Gordon)'s communication network in order to learn about crimes as they occur, primarily because she does not have a bat signal of her own just yet.
  • Bear Trap: When Batgirl breaks up a group of car thieves at a high-society charity event, she is horrified when one of the fleeing thugs gets caught in a bear trap that nearly slices off his leg at the knee. People claiming to be security for the event explain that it is a new tactic of rival gangs to follow each other and leave such traps to catch them unawares.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Zig-zagged. While Barbara gets bloodied and/or banged up in almost every fight she's in (and even suffers serious injury in a few of them), she rarely, if ever, gets a black eye or other facial bruising.
  • Bedlam House: Cherise Carnes allowed herself to be sent to Arkham Asylum for the murder of her family so that she could "learn the craft of madness."
  • Bodyguard Babes: Bruce Wayne does not have them, but he is apparently such a good boss that his non-combat-trained, non-powered, completely normal personal assistant decides to take on Batgirl when it looks like she is attacking Bruce. Babs comments that the woman, whoever she is, deserves a raise.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Gretel's victims, who kill while chanting "338" and variations thereof (Including "$3.38").
  • The Bus Came Back: During Futures End one-shot, five years in the (possible) future, the League of Batgirls is made up of Stephanie Brown, Cassandra Cain, and Tiffany Fox, two of whom were Batgirls in the pre-New 52.
  • Cain and Abel: She is the Abel to her younger brother James Jr.'s Cain.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Barbara gives up on her Batgirl identity after being forced to -apparently- kill her mass murderer of a brother. Then her archenemy Knightfall sends out assassins after her father.
  • The Cameo:
    • The first issue of Brenden Fletcher's run shows Usagi Tsukino sitting in the coffee house Barbara visits.
    • Human versions of Pearl and Garnet appear in a later issue.
  • Catapult Nightmare: When she has bad dreams of being shot by the Joker.
  • Character Shilling: When Barbara begins to have self-doubts about her return to costumed crime fighting, and whether she should ever have been Batgirl at all, Bruce tells her that she was always meant to be Batgirl.
  • Cheap Costume:
    • Barbara's original costume, before her paralysis, was made of brown cloth instead of the hi-tech armor that she uses after regaining the use of her legs.
    • After moving to Burnside from Cherry Hill (in Issues 35 onward), Barbara's new outfit goes back to a downplayed version of this, essentially being a jacket for the torso, but still reinforced for combat.
  • Commonality Connection: Most of the villains have been shown to be deeply traumatized and damaged people who have been scarred by some life-altering injury or disaster, much like Babs herself. Babs is often given to reflect on the similarities between them, and how she might have turned out like them if things had gone differently.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The first issue of the series includes recreations of several panels from The Killing Joke, where Barbara was shot and paralyzed by The Joker.
    • Issue #7 has graffiti on a sewer wall that reads DARK VENGEANCE, which was the catchphrase of the teenage superhero (and onetime, unofficial Batgirl) Misfit. Barbara had mentored Misfit in the pre-reboot Birds of Prey. She shows up in the flesh in Issue 34, shouting her catchphrase during a fight.
    • The #0 origin issue closed with a recreation of a panel from The Killing Joke where Barbara was about to be shot by the Joker.
    • When Ragdoll makes a guest appearance, he's seen talking to someone on his cell phone regarding their employer. He finishes the conversation with "Give my love to your wives." It is blatantly implied he was talking to Scandal Savage as Gail's way of stating that Scandal's marriage to Knockout and Liana Kerzner is still canon.
    • After getting thrashed by Batwoman (in a case of Let's You and Him Fight), Batwoman offers Batgirl a handkerchief to clean her bloody nose. Babs is incredulous that Batwoman would carry such a thing in her utility belt. Over twenty issues later, however, Batgirl has started carrying one as well, as she offers it to Huntress after beating her up in an almost identical situation.
  • Cool Bike: Safely hidden in Barbara's not-so-cool van.
  • Cool Mask: Knightfall/Charise Carnes wears a golden, featureless mask aside from her purple hood.
  • Cop Killer: In "The Darkest Reflection", the villain Mirror, whose obsession is killing people who he thinks don't deserved to have escaped from certain death, kills several cops in one go. Batgirl bluntly warns him Gotham City cops will hunt him down and will not stop until he's behind bars.
    Batgirl: I don't know who you are, big man. But you've shot a Gotham cop. It's over for you.
  • Cowboy Cop: Katharsis of the Disgraced used to be a policewoman who was kicked off the force for castrating a sex offender. She apparently got fanmail for this while in prison, until it turned out the guy was innocent.
  • The Cowl: Barbara Gordon was inspired by Batman and takes after him: she wears dark clothes and a cowl, she has no powers, and she patrols Gotham at the night, hunting criminals.
  • Crusading Widow: Detective McKenna lost her husband in the Arkham Breakout, which made her willing to make deals with Knightfall and her gang, until she realize just how far Knightfall intended to go.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: After Batwoman arrives on the scene (due to Working the Same Case), Batgirl, unsure of her affiliation, decides to quickly incapacitate her, assuming she doesn't have much fighting experience. She ends up being very, very wrong.
  • Daddy's Girl: Barbara explains that her father is, no question, the best dad in the world. Issue #4 reveals that it was Jim who found the clinic in South Africa that helped Barbara regain her ability to walk.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Barbara can even rival Nightwing for quips.
  • Deer in the Headlights: When Mirror points a gun at Batgirl, at the exact spot where she had been shot by the Joker, Batgirl froze in terror and could not prevent Mirror from killing a man. Word of God is that she did research on the effects of PTSD and specifically based this on a common experience of people who go through trauma that is later triggered.
  • Demonic Dummy: Shauna Belzer, AKA the Ventriloquist, has a wooden puppet named Ferdie. It was "given" to her by a performer named Rainbow Rodney when she was a child.
  • Denser and Wackier: The first half of the book is overly dark and gritty, what with the downcast tone, bloodthirsty, psychopathic villains and Barbara Gordon struggling against her [PTSD]. The second half is more light-hearted, colourful and whimsical, featuring a recovering, happier Batgirl moving out of Gotham and fighting mostly eccentric baddies. Batgirl (Rebirth) tones the craziness down but it's still more light-hearted than the beginning of the 2011 series.
  • Detect Evil: Harvey, a Serial Killer and cult leader that Barbara met when she and James Jr. were being given a tour of the police station, calls James an "abomination" and promises Barbara that killing him now would be a favor to her later. This is not from anything that James does, Harvey can apparently just sense that he will become a monster.
  • Distant Prologue: Issue #9 opens with a scene in a Japanese weapons factory in World War II, where schoolgirls are manufacturing Fire Balloons for use in attacks on the United States. It then jumps forward a few years to Haly's Circus, where the Court of Owls are recruiting a young girl whose family was killed in one of the only lethal Fire Balloon incidents. It then jumps forward again to the present for the rest of the story.
  • Dramatic Unmask: In Issue #26, Barbara tries to do this to her father, but, in a manner not dissimilar to Batman: No Man's Land with him and Batman, he refuses to look, not wanting to know who is under the cowl.
  • Doting Parent: Jim Gordon, naturally.
  • Downer Ending:
    • Issue #9 ends with the logo of the Court of Owls being broadcast from the Bat Signal as a message to the people of Gotham that there is nobody, not even Batman, that can save them from the Court. Barbara's narration actually remarks that, with that symbol in the sky, they might have just lost Gotham city.
    • Issue #19, the ultimate conclusion to the Batgirl portion of Death Of The Family, where her brother James Jr. tries to finally kill Barbara and hurt their mother. After getting stabbed in the eye and being cornered near the edge of a pier, James Jr. is knocked over and seemingly dies on reef and gets washed out into the river due to Batgirl hitting him with a batarang... only for Commissioner Gordon to see it and call her guilty of murdering his son. Suicide Squad, however, reveals that James Jr. survived and is being consulted by Amanda Waller in secret.
  • Dynamic Entry: Detective McKenna is introduced in issue #6 pistol whipping Batgirl over the head.
  • Evil Counterpart / Identity Impersonator: The Batgirl of Burnside.
  • Failure-to-Save Murder: When Batgirl is unable to stop Mirror because she froze when he pointed a gun at the same spot where the Joker shot her, Detective McKenna screamed that that made Batgirl just as much a murderer as Mirror.
  • Fairy Tale Motifs: Gretel is mostly an aversion besides her name, although in the sixth issue she calls the trap she has set up for some of Gotham's wealthy elite her "house of candy and delight" where they will burn.
  • Fee Fi Faux Pas: In the first issue, Barbara's new roommate sees the wheelchair lift on Barbara's van and makes a comment about her worst fear being "trapped in a chair" "like prison". Rather than get upset with her about it, Barbara tells herself that her new roommate has no way of knowing that she used to need it and that being in the chair was actually the opposite for her.
  • Flanderization: The first arc of the Fletcher/Stewart run made considerable use of Barbara's photographic memory and computer abilities to solve crimes. Later arcs, however, seemed to have tossed aside Barbara's detective skills in order to push her into the center of love triangles and petty teenage drama.
  • For the Evulz:
    • The first issue opens with a gang of thrill killers who pick random names out of a phone book and then murder them in their houses for no reason.
    • Trevor killed Cherise Carnes' parents and little brother "for the lulz."
  • Had to Come to Prison to Be a Crook: Cherise Carnes allowed herself to be sent to Arkham Asylum so that she could "learn the craft of madness."
  • Handshake Substitute: Barbara and her new roommate exchange a fist-bump after they agree to live together.
  • He's Back!: Barbara gave up on being Batgirl after the Joker shot her and left her with waist-down paralysis. After several years in comic time (twenty-three years in real time), Barbara regained the use of her legs and became Batgirl again.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: As a callback to their considerable Les Yay in Birds of Prey, in issue 7 Barbara visits Black Canary in the middle of the night... to spar. As in, fight hand to hand. Lampshaded by Simone:
    Just because Babs snuck into Dinah's bed at night for some action doesn't mean…. Wait. I might have phrased that wrong.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Throughout the first few arcs, Detective McKenna is constantly trying to bust Batgirl for failing to prevent the murder of her partner, which would be all well and good, except that the "Knightfall Descends" arc reveals that she knew that Knightfall was Cherise Carnes the whole time and did nothing to stop her or the Disgraced because they had an arrangement.
    • Knightfall herself is a major hypocrite. For all her talk about wanting to get rid of crime, she offered amnesty to four hardened criminals in exchange for serving her and bribed a whole roster of cops and judges into looking the other way.
  • I Have a Family: A well-dressed couple that Batgirl rescues from a group of muggers thank her by explaining that they can now see their kids again.
  • Insistent Terminology: It's Batgirl, not Batwoman.
  • Inspector Javert: In the first few arcs, Batgirl is constantly being pursued by Det. Melody McKenna, who has it out for her because she failed to prevent the murder of her partner in the first issue.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Lisly Bonner (Gretel), who dreamed not of being the next Lois Lane, but being better than Lois Lane.
  • It's Fake Fur, It's Fine: When a group of thugs mug a well-dressed couple, they berate the woman for wearing a mink wrap. After Batgirl saves the couple they explain it is fake-fur, and they are actually vegan.
  • Keeping the Handicap: Barbara Gordon aka Oracle, The DCU's Mission Control and Knowledge Broker extraordinaire, had access to several potential cures to her paraplegia because of her association with superheroes. However, she refused to use these as she felt it was unfair that she could use these technologies and normal people couldn't. In the New 52, Barbara gets surgery to fix it and becomes active as Batgirl again.
  • Let's You and Him Fight:
    • Batwoman busts into Detective McKenna's apartment to apprehend her while Batgirl's there, and ends up curbstomping Babs. While Batgirl wasn't fighting at her full capacity since she wasn't sure what side Batwoman was on, her narration also makes clear that she probably wouldn't have won anyway.
    • Batgirl beats up Huntress after she steps from the shadows to introduce herself, thinking she's with Knightfall.
  • Lighter and Softer: With Gail Simone leaving the book on October 2014, Cameron Stewart and Brendan Flecther plan on making Batgirl less dark and depressing and more lighthearted and fun.
  • Like A Daughter To Me: On her tumblr account, Gail Simone explains that Batman always viewed Barbara as like a daughter.
  • Mama Bear: Bonebreaker of Knightfall's Disgraced had twin daughters who were killed by a drunk driver. She found him, chained him to her rear bumper, and dragged him around her neighborhood going 20 miles an hour for exactly half an hour.
  • Mind over Matter: The Ventriloquist can control inanimate objects with her mind; such as her puppet.
  • Missing Mom: Barbara mentions that her mom walked out on her and her father when she was 12 years old. At the end of Batgirl #4, her mother shows up on her doorstep on Christmas Eve.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Batgirl takes out a bunch of rage and frustration at Knightfall on Huntress, who surprised her by suddenly appearing from the shadows.
  • Origins Episode: Issue #0 showed Barbara's crimefighting research before she became Batgirl, and the very first time she met Batman and put on a costume.
  • Orwellian Retcon: Some dialogue from issue #37 was changed for the TPB collection to remove the implication that Barbara was shocked and disgusted to discover that an apparently female villain was a cross-dressing man, which had been seen by readers as out-of-character and transphobic.
  • People Puppets: Shauna Belzer, the third Ventriloquist, uses this, regardless of whether it is an actual puppet, a corpse, or a living person. That, plus her look paints her as an expy of Mary Shaw.
  • Photographic Memory: Barbara has this, and as such her memories of being shot are that much more vivid. Also counts as Blessed with Suck for this reason.
  • Rich Bitch: Charise Carnes is an unusual case in that while she is definitely a villain she avoids being a snob and genuinely wants to help her community.
  • Rogues Gallery: Simone has striven to give Babs her own entourage of villains without rehashing old Bat baddies, with the exception of James Gordon Jr. So far, we've got Mirror, Gretel, Grotesque, Knightfall, and Knightfall's group the Disgraced, including Katharsis, Bonebreaker, and Bleak Michael.
  • Shout-Out: Babs Tarr drew a Codename: Sailor V arcade cabinet into one scene.
  • So Proud of You: In issue #6, Bruce Wayne says "You were always meant to be Batgirl, Barbara" which is a specific Call-Back to Barbara's thoughts earlier in the issue where when Batman arrived at the hospital after she'd been shot, she expected him to tell her that she never should have been Batgirl, but instead just held her hand.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: Shauna Belzer, the new Ventriloquist, has the look down certainly. Gail Simone states she wasn't even aware of the similarities between Shauna and Ju On.
  • Survivor's Guilt: This turns out to be Mirror's motivation. Barbara also goes through a lot of it while trying to reconcile her choice to go through treatment to walk again.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: With her inability to talk and background as a trained assassin, Strix bears some resemblance to Cassandra Cain, one of Barbara's successors who was Exiled from Continuity during the early years of the New 52 era.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: The first two villains of the series, Mirror and Gretel, both have horrific tragedies in their past that mirror different parts of Barbara's paralysis and recovery. For both characters Babs sees what she might have become if things had gone differently for her.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Inverted. Between continuities she has gone from being a confident Chessmaster to a far less capable form. The reboot lowered her age and experience considerably, so she is still feeling her way into her role instead of having grown with years of experience.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: She can walk again! Her paralysis from The Killing Joke remains part of her history (And a recurring point for contemplation) but the series begins after she has managed a physical recuperation.
  • Transplant: Katharsis was transplanted into Gail Simone's other comic, The Movement as one of the protagonists (albeit one who constantly butted heads with her teammates.) Strix and Ventriloquist later joined the Secret Six.
  • Trauma Button: Having a gun pointed at the exact spot where she was shot, which causes her to freeze up in the first issue.
  • Use Your Head: Batwoman uses her forehead to bust open Batgirl's nose, ending their brief scuffle.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Mirror collapses emotionally when Batgirl reflects his own tragedy back at him.
  • Villainous BSoD: Knightfall breaks down crying when Batgirl presents her with a photo of her murdered family and asks if they would be proud of the mayhem she's caused.
  • Voice Changeling: The Ventriloquist can mimic anyone's voice.
  • Warrior Therapist: Barbara sneaks into Black Canary's apartment in issue #7 for an impromptu sparring session because she feels that, despite all her training and physical therapy, she is not yet back as Batgirl. During their fight, Dinah helps her come to grips with the emotions, guilt and self-doubt that are holding her back.
  • Wham Shot: Oracle's face and the individual declaring that the Barbara we had seen thus far was not Batgirl, and that Oracle would be coming back to "take back what's [hers]" in Issue 39.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
  • Worf Had the Flu: Early in the series, Barbara's internal narration comments that she doesn't feel as physically strong as she should because she's still recovering, only to then realize that what she lacks in leg strength she makes up for in upper body strength, since she was pushing her own wheelchair for three years.

Works that she has appeared in:

Alternative Title(s): Batgirl New 52