WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Batgirl #27 by Mairghread Scott, Paul Pelletier, Norm Rapmund, Jordie Bellaire and Deron Bennett, in stores now.
For the last four years, Barbara Gordon has called the Burnside neighborhood of Gotham City home. When she first started operating there in 2014, she ditched her New 52 armored costume to put on something a little more homemade — and a little more signature. This look, designed by Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr, became synonymous with the character, with many action figures and collectibles featuring the Burnside costume. Perhaps this is why the latest issue of Batgirl is so important. It marks the end of an era, while declaring a bold (yet familiar) new one for the character.
Yes, Batgirl #27 sees Barbara Gordon ditch the purple colors of her famous Burnside costume and slip into a new suit. This outfit is primarily colored in greys, yellows and blues, something that instantly calls back to the character’s past. While we already knew that this new costume would debut in Batgirl #27, we didn’t know how it would come into play in the series, what would prompt Barbara to make the change or how she makes this new suit. Well, it turns out that all of these questions are resolved with one simple answer: The suit is actually an old prototype from her Batgirl: Year One days.
The issue itself finds Batgirl on the hunt for the villain known as Grotesque. However, her last confrontation with him saw the villain use a stun baton against Barbara, something that resulted in the chip that allows her to walk malfunctioning. After a brief visit at the hospital, Barbara finds herself (temporarily) back in a wheelchair. A concerned Jim Gordon manages to convince her to come back home where he can keep an eye on her and help her recover.
As she walks back into her old home, Barbara sees the window that she would use to sneak in and out of the house during her first year as Batgirl. It’s no wonder Barbara makes a clear reference to the events of Batgirl: Year One, the comic series by Scott Beatty, Chuck Dixon and Marcos Martin — Year One told the definitive origin story of Barbara Gordon’s turn into Batgirl. That crusade that saw her take to the rooftops of Gotham City in her classic grey, blue and yellow suit.
Now, back in her old home, Barbara is still determined to stop Grotesque before his murderous spree can continue. With time being of the essence, she can’t go back to Burnside. Instead, Barbara opens a secret compartment in the wardrobe of her old room, where she finds the (old) updated prototype of her Year One costume she had left there long ago. This costume embraces the character’s past, all while featuring a modern, more armored twist. The biggest difference is that she is now wearing a domino mask (which does include Bat-ears!) instead of a full cowl.
Batgirl has had many different costumes in her superhero career, and the return to a more classic-looking outfit seems to speak directly to the heart of DC’s Rebirth — a relaunch that is inspired by the past to build a bold new future.
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