WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Batgirl #39 by Cecil Castellucci, Carmine Digiandomenico, Jordie Bellaire and Andworld Design, in stores now.
Barbara Gordon's world has been rocked in huge ways over the course of the current Batgirl run. Not only did she lose her company, GCE Industries, she's struggling as she works with Congresswoman Alejo to improve poverty. Combined with her avoiding a possible romance with longtime friend, Jason Bard, and you can see why she feels like her life us just too unstable to balance her superhero career with everyday life.
Sadly, her emotional state just took an even bigger hit because thanks to a very familiar piece of artificial intelligence, Oracle. Now, Batgirl's home, Burnside, is burning--literally as well as figuratively--thanks to the schemes of Lex Luthor's Year of the Villain offer.
Lex recently visited the A.I. known as Oracle, the program that Barbara created when she was in her wheelchair in the wake of The Killing Joke. After eventually reprising her role in the costume, the A.I. evolved into a robot. Lex corrupted it, though, just when the Terrible Trio tried to steal it and weaponize the tech. With her more sinister sentience, Oracle is now using the Trio as her lackeys, embedding Lex's philosophy of chaos and doom into its algorithm to wreak havoc on Burnside. This is all to attain vengeance on its creator, whom Oracle thinks abandoned her.
Ironically, Barbara has just returned home to revamp her energies, and her friends know she's in a depressive spiral. Jason wants to start up a romance, and he thinks this is the best place for it. However, Barb can only focus on finding the inspiration which made her a hero, since she doesn't think she's up to scratch in the field these days. Also, given that Ric Grayson is still on her mind, it's just too much to handle. But just when she thinks she's getting back in the swing of things back home, the Trio, scattered all across Burnside, detonate charges and set Burnside ablaze. Oracle wants to strike at Batgirl's heart and this is the perfect way to do it, and the A.I. reminds us just how sadistic the program can be when it wants.
By attacking Batgirl's home, Oracle isn't just trying to break her body, but her mind too. Since she was distracted, Batgirl couldn't suss out the terrorist threat as she was trying to stop looters and a wave of common criminals on the ground. She didn't even realize this was all misdirection, a ruse generated by Oracle on Lex's advice, to get the people of Burnside to become villains themselves. Lex offered them a message to take back what's theirs, fight for equality and razing the one percent in a scene that recalls what Tom Hardy's Bane did in The Dark Knight Rises.
The common folk are upset that Lex didn't make them villains in his warped paradise, so they take it upon themselves to get what they see are reparations, even attacking innocent businesses rather than corporations. This leaves Barb with a lot to do, because she's watching the people she love and grew up with turning into monsters on the inside.
As the city transforms to ash in key areas, all this brimstone reminds her of is her failure under the cowl. Barb wanted to create change by donning her mask but all her work is being undone. But since Oracle knows her every move, it looks like she's facing a villain who's always one step ahead of her,
Batgirl #40 goes on sale Sept. 30.