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.
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?
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.?
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.
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?