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Batgirl Gets A Visit From Her Past

Who is the mysterious character from her past and how much will she influence Barbara Gordon? How will her origin change? Spoilers contained.

If you have been reading DC comics since September then you know that the "New 52" has been all about shaking up the things we know about the DC Universe, right? There have been some very drastic and noticeable changes being made to many of the characters -- and these changes have, oftentimes, gone beyond the aesthetics.

We've seen everything from the break-ups of some of DC's most iconic couples (Clark Kent and Lois Lane, for example) to old characters gaining new secret identities (Barbara Gordon becoming Batgirl) to new origin stories altogether (Wonder Woman has a Dad, now) -- and just when we thought all of the big reveals were over and done with, we realize that DC might just be getting warmed up.

Of all the characters that underwent prominent changes, perhaps the obvious change was made to Batgirl, Barbara Gordon. For the last twenty years or so Barbara had been confined to a wheelchair after being shot at the base of her spine by the Joker in the Killing Joke. The result was literally crippling, and over the years Barbara's writers developed her as a "behind the scenes" character and the leader of the Birds of Prey; an incredibly intelligent, tech-savvy young woman who refused to allow her accident to define her and to derail her from her crime-solving ambitions.

Taking Barbara out of the wheelchair and putting her back into the Batgirl costume was a prominent enough change and quite frankly, a move so bold, many of us did not expect another change to come about so quickly. Yet, if you happened to have caught the end of Gail Simone's BATGIRL #4 then you know that another massive change is well underway for our dear Babs, right? If you haven't read the issue yet (and are looking forward to it) I suggest you stop reading this right now -- plenty of spoilers below.

== TEASER ==

The fourth issue of BATGIRL was one of Gail's best since the relaunch of the book (in our humble opinion), because it featured the most amount of character development and opened more doors than any other issue to date. Barbara Gordon's journey out of the wheelchair is explained in more detail, and her struggle dealing with the fact that she was essentially "given another chance" to walk is explicitly stated -- she's feeling pretty guilty.

But wait, that's not all. On the final page of BATGIRL #4, Barbara receives a knock on the door of her apartment; she opens it to find...her mother! Barbara Gordon fans are probably scratching their heads thinking to themselves, 'wait, she was dead, right?' So if Barbara's mother is dead, who could this woman be?

Batgirl #4

We don't know a whole lot about Barbara Gordon's past before Commissioner Gordon, but what we do know is that ever since the Silver Age of comics, Barbara Gordon's parents have been dead. Her origin reveals that her father was Commissioner Gordon's brother, and that he and his wife died in an accident, leaving Barbara without both parents. Gordon took it upon himself to bring Barbara in and raise her as his own flesh and blood. If Barbara's parents were indeed Roger and Thelma Gordon, and both died, who is the woman that appears on the final page of BATGIRL #4? Is it Barbara Kean-Gordon, Commissioner Gordon's ex-wife and mother of James Gordon Jr.?

Batman: Gotham Knights #6

Interestingly, both Barbara, Commissioner Gordon and the myserious woman at the end of BATGIRL #4 all have red hair. However, Barbara Kean-Gordon recently appeared in Batman: The Black Mirror and she had dark, short brown hair. Commissioner Gordon's hair was recently changed from grey to red in the relaunch to give him a younger appearance, which led to the speculation of whether Jim Gordon is in fact Barbara's biological father. Following the death of Roger and Thelma, Commissioner Gordon and his former wife Barbara Kean-Gordon (who appeared pregnant with James Gordon Jr. in Batman: Year One) both adopted Barbara in a story. Later, the couple divorced (Secret Origins #20) and James Gordon retained full custody of a young Babs Gordon.

To complicate matters further, in issue #6 of Batman: Gotham Knights it was revealed that Commissioner Gordon and Thelma (Barbara's Mother and Commissioner Gordon's Sister-In-Law) had had an affair and that there is a possibility that Commissioner Gordon is in fact Barbara Gordon's biological father.

Batman: Gotham Knights #6

If Commissioner Gordon's ex-wife appeared in Batman: The Black Mirror with short dark hair, then we are thinking that the woman at the end of BATGIRL #4 is not Barbara Kean-Gordon. So, could it be Thelma Gordon? Did Thelma Gordon actually die? Could Gail Simone be planning to ret-con the fact that Barbara Kean-Gordon at one time adopted a young Babs while she was married to Commissioner James Gordon, making young James Gordon Jr. Babs' biological younger brother?

What if this isn't Barbara's mother at all, but just a plot to tug at Barbara's heart strings and make her vulnerable? Who do you think is the woman at the end of BATGIRL #4? Do you think it's Thelma or Barbara Gordon? Or do you think it's someone else, entirely? Also, how did this woman find Barbara's apartment?

36 Comments
Posted by Mbecks14

I really want Barbara to be Jim Gordon's biological daughter! But this is a cool new twist with this mysterious new woman!

Posted by haydenclaireheroes

Should be interesting to see in issue 5 a little bit of Barbara's past become clear in the Dc reboot.

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

It is really just hard to say. My mind wants it to be Barbara Kean and yet my heart wants it to be Thelma. It will be interesting to see how this is handled.

Posted by yo_yo_fun

The woman looks a lot like Barbara so I'm going to guess it's her biological mother.

It's the New 52, so maybe they changed that and she didn't die...??

Can't wait for the 5th issue!

Posted by The Impersonator

Batwoman also has red hair. :P

Posted by Bestostero

I am looking forward to this, i was caught off guard when i originally saw this... lol

Posted by DarthShap

The answer is in the comic book, is it not? In the new DCU, Barbara is James' and Barbara Kean's (or an alternate version of her anyway because the reboot could be used as an opportunity to remove all previous confusion). Barbara Kean/whatever her name is now left her family (James, James Jr. and Barbara "Jr"/Barbara) when her daughter was twelve.

Posted by War Killer

Honestly I've always been confused by who's Barbara's parents were, watching Batman: TAS she's James Gordon's daughter, but in the comics they make it so confusing, one minute she's his daughter, then she's his adopted daughter, then she's his daughter again...? X_X

But in that same issue she refers to him as her father and that's what I tell people when they ask me, I say she's the daughter of James Gordon. As for this little cliffhanger, I just started reading this series at issue four and I'm looking forward to the next issue! Plus I can't wait for issue six when she meets with Batman!!! ^_^

Posted by BlackArmor

Dude! what the hell did Barbra's past do to Simone? If she's as good a writer as everyone says(I'm not seeing it) she must really hate the character to F-her so bad at every turn

Posted by 672253

I was like "Whuuut!?!" When I read the issue. I've been speculating that it may be an impostor...

Posted by DEGRAAF

I'm guessing that the black mirror or whatever it was doesn't matter anymore. I'm guessing it will be her biological mother (whether her name is Thelma or not). It will be interesting but I don't see how this is going to help further develop Barbara unless the dive in to her past

Posted by mynameis7

It is a mystery to me who she is and really, how did she find barbra at her apartment must have been tailing her. So, there might be something sinister going on here. I just gotta say that the artwork inks and especially the colors in this series are exceptional.

Posted by Queso6p4

Nice article! This title has been one of my favorites of the reboot and this issue was especially good, in my humble opinion. I admit that I was also scratching my head at the end but I'm not sure what to think of this woman. Maybe she is Barbara's mom and maybe she isn't but either way I look forward to seeing how things play out in this series. I also hope that Alysia gets some more exposure.

Posted by MrMiracle77

I've always had that sneaking suspicion, even in the old universe, that James Gordon (before his own marriage) had an affair with his brother's wife with Barbara as a result. This serves as an opportunity to bring Barbara more in line with her DCAU version.

Posted by MichonneHack27

Well biological or not, it kinda doesn't matter. When you look at Babs you can just tell she's Jim's daughter through and through. I don't know about her mother, but she's definitely her father's child.

Posted by FoxxFireArt

Little to nothing could get me to accept the break up of Lois and Clark. Partly, because we all know they're getting back together at some point. It's a whole lot of awkward courtship all over again just to wind up right back there you started. Wonder Woman with a father isn't a big deal. I just find the "child of Zeus" grossly played out.

I can certainly accept that Barbra was taken out of the chair. I just found it bothersome that all of her accomplishments that made her a power broker in DC were seemingly washed away. Overcome a tragedy to build herself up is what made her a hero on the level of Batman. If it was anyone other than Simone. This would be very troublesome news.

I'm normally against these sort of alterations with origin. Changing a character origin is pretty pointless if it doesn't effect the outcome. It's a different road to the same path. I give Simone more credit than pulling something as cliche as this being some overt scheme. Not that a dead family member not being actually dead is any less soap opera. I just feel that Simone is the type of writer who's looking to do something more meaningful. I hope it goes well for her.

Posted by The Poet

uh, Babs...the Thema Gordon you linked is not the thema you are talking about. another Thema Gordon...

Moderator
Posted by GamerGeek360

I am loving this series! I've always been a fan of Babs as Oracle so I was somewhat skeptical of her returning to the Batgirl role but very intrigued at the same time. Now, I'm fully on board.

Posted by Mister_Sensational

@DarthShap said:

The
answer is in the comic book, is it not? In the new DCU, Barbara is James' and
Barbara Kean's (or an alternate version of her anyway because the reboot could
be used as an opportunity to remove all previous confusion). Barbara
Kean/whatever her name is now left her family (James, James Jr. and Barbara "Jr"/Barbara) when her daughter was twelve.

That's right, in the issue Barbara clearly tells her roommate that her mother left their family when she was twelve.

Posted by The Cramoisi Fleur

Hate to beat a dead horse but I love the art.

Posted by The Poet

Also I just read the preview for Nightwing #4. Dick grayson explained Barabara Gordon was "Comisioner Gordon's Daughter." Does that blow the past out of the water?

Moderator
Posted by EnSabahNurX

@Mbecks14 said:

I really want Barbara to be Jim Gordon's biological daughter! But this is a cool new twist with this mysterious new woman!

SECONDED!!!!!! I pretty much think of her that way anyway and so do most people who just know her from the cartoons

Posted by danhimself

SPOILER!!! It's an android that the Chameleon made to impersonate her. Later we're going to realize that the Barbara Gordon we've been reading about for the past few months is indeed a clone and the real Barbara will return become the Scarlet Batgirl and dye her hair blonde. Then we'll find out that the clone was the real Barbara all along and the Green Goblin was behind it all!!!!!! CRAZY!!!!

Posted by Eyz

Wasn't her mom dead? Oh...wait... New 52! Continuity's not an issue that much anymore :/

Posted by Or35ti

I never knew any of that history mentioned above. Now sit back and wait for the answers to come...

Posted by Mayo88m

@DarthShap said:

The answer is in the comic book, is it not? In the new DCU, Barbara is James' and Barbara Kean's (or an alternate version of her anyway because the reboot could be used as an opportunity to remove all previous confusion). Barbara Kean/whatever her name is now left her family (James, James Jr. and Barbara "Jr"/Barbara) when her daughter was twelve.

Yep. Babs says it in the opening panels when she and her roommate are talking about Christmas. She says that she walked out on them when she was twelve, and then goes on to hint out how she was cured by telling how a year ago her father came to her and said, "There is a clinic in South Africa." So, I think it's pretty black and white that she is now Jim's biological daughter, and I'm not sure why this whole article was written, or how you could come to any other conclusion when it practically says it in the issue. Not only that, but to use old character appearances pre-boot as a justification for the speculation? They no longer matter as everything has changed.

Posted by SniffumsActual

Not sure who she is or what's gonna happen, but cannot wait for issue 5. keep up the speculations Sara

Posted by pinkdaizygirl

in "Long Halloween", Jims wife mentions that they have a niece...also named Barbara....

Posted by pinkdaizygirl

but she was also older than James Jr....cause she was babysitting....*head smack*

Posted by mickoreo_LZ

I don't know about anyone else but I kind of miss Oracle. Cassie Cain was by far the best Batgirl and even Stephanie Brown was not bad. Babs was such a powerful character in the wheelchair; now she's just another vigilante

Posted by Mucklefluga

Wow that is really hard to get your head around

Posted by Outside_85

Perhaps Gail is using the New 52 to clear this up as well.

Btw, love the wheelchair image of BG, looks like someone told her she couldn't have a treat...but the armor really makes it look like her abs are enormous.

Posted by War Killer

@danhimself said:

SPOILER!!! It's an android that the Chameleon made to impersonate her. Later we're going to realize that the Barbara Gordon we've been reading about for the past few months is indeed a clone and the real Barbara will return become the Scarlet Batgirl and dye her hair blonde. Then we'll find out that the clone was the real Barbara all along and the Green Goblin was behind it all!!!!!! CRAZY!!!!

AND then! Years later the real Barbara Gordon final gets married to Dick Grayson, ONLY to turn around and make a deal with the devil to save her father after he is mortally wounded due to her revealing her identity on live television and is forced to trade her marriage to save her father! THEN we find Barbara waking up with the world having no memory of Barbara being Batgirl INCLUDING Dick! BUT now with Barbara back in her wheelchair she continues to defend Gotham City as Oracle once again in a new story arc titled: Brand New Night!!! INSANITY!!!!! O_O

Posted by Vance Astro

Gail Simone>>>Everyone Else.

Moderator
Posted by TheMess1428

Maybe they changed the entire family just for the hell of it.

Posted by X9

True.

Whatever is revealed, it's going to be cool.

Maybe Thelma and James had an affair and Babs was born, but raised as Thelma and Roger's kid.

After their deaths, when she was quite young, she was adopted by the Gordons. So Barbara Kean would be like a mother to her. A mother who left her when she was 12...

Anyway, I haven't read the new comics yet, so I may just be talking about things that have already been revealed :P