DC Comics’ Batgirl has been paralyzed, put through the ringer, gotten her groove back, faced The Joker, tussled with Batman, and now faces her biggest challenge of all: a new creative team.
Starting in October, Barbara Gordon gets a brand new look, and team of writers and artist with “Batgirl #35.” Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher, no strangers to the DC Universe from their work on “Batman Inc.” and “Wednesday Comics” respectively, will write the book, which finds a fire burning everything Batgirl owns, forcing her to reevaluate her life in a big way.
Additionally, the writing team is joined by newcomer, artist Babs Tarr, who along with sometimes artist Stewart, has revamped her namesake’s costume to be way more practical than the skin-hugging body-armor comic fans might be used to.
To find out more, MTV News chatted over e-mail with the new team, and we’re also pleased to show off exclusive first looks at the cover to issue #35, a promo image advertising the series, and development work Stewart and Tarr did on the new costume.
(And to fans wondering what’s up with departing, much beloved writer Gail Simone: no worries, we hear she has another project with DC Comics that will be announced shortly. So stay tuned.)
MTV News: Cameron, Brenden you’ve worked together before – but how has the collaboration evolved?
Cameron Stewart: Brenden and I have been close friends for around 15 years now, but we never actually got the chance to work together until last year’s “Assassin’s Creed: Brahman,” which he co-wrote with our mutual friend Karl Kerschl (artist of DC’s upcoming “Gotham Academy”) and I illustrated. When the opportunity came up to bring him aboard to write “Batgirl” with me I leapt at it – we are very similar in attitude and approach and I knew he’d be an ideal collaborator. We often arrive at the same ideas independently so we’re definitely of the same mind.
Brenden Fletcher: I remember the first time we talked about finding an angle that really played to the strengths of the character and Cameron and I were nearly finishing each other’s sentences. Then I played him a piece of music and said, “Now, imagine her running across rooftops to THIS” and we both knew that we had our Batgirl! It’s really the perfect title for us to finally collaborate on as co-writers.
[Note that song is: "212" by Azealia Banks Ft. Lazy Jay]
MTV: Babs, what’s it been like jumping into the team?
Babs Tarr: The whole thing has been pretty surreal! I was surprised, as a newcomer, at how super welcoming and collaborative everyone has been! Being approached to do “Batgirl” and being met with such open arms toward my art style and ideas has just been beyond my wildest imagination. “Batgirl” will be my first comic, and I could not be more honored and excited about the challenge! I am excited to draw Cameron and Brenden’s “Batgirl!” The story so far is right up my alley. I know I have big shoes to fill but I am up for the challenge!
MTV: For all three, what’s your take on Barbara? It seems like she’s going through some massive changes by the time your first issue hits.
Stewart: Batgirl has really been put through the wringer in recent years – after being attacked and paralyzed by the Joker, her brother turning out to be a serial murderer, the trauma of her family breaking apart and the series of gruesome villains she’s had to contend with, we figured she deserved a break from all that. Just prior to the start of our story she’s pushed to the breaking point and decides that she’s had it with misery and darkness and wants a change. She wants the opportunity to have some fun and live the life of a young, single girl in the city, so she packs up and moves to Burnside, the cool, trendy borough of Gotham, to focus on grad school.
Fletcher: And that’s where we kick off our run – introducing this part of the city known for expensive coffee, fixie bikes, vintage shops and breakout bands. Barbara allows herself to be immersed in youth culture for the first time, exploring the social side of life in Burnside. That’s not to say there isn’t mystery, of course! Try as she might to live a “normal” life, Barbara very quickly finds herself drawn back into the world of crime fighting. Our take on Batgirl mixes the best elements of “Veronica Mars” and “Girls,” with a dash of “Sherlock” thrown in for good measure.
Tarr: I am excited to bring some flirt, fun, and fashion to the title! I don’t think you see a lot of that in mainstream comics and I am excited to bring that to the table. Who doesn’t love a sassy super hero?
MTV: Does anything remain from the previous run? Or is it all literally burnt to the ground?
Stewart: We’re very honored to be following in the crazy-large footsteps of Gail Simone on this title, who in the minds of most is the definitive “Batgirl” writer. Coming after a writer of her talent and popularity, we would be crazy to ignore her mark on the character. Fans of the current run can rest easy knowing that it’s not a complete reboot – Alysia Yeoh still plays a role in Barbara’s life, though from across the river in Gotham. And another familiar face shows up on Barbara’s new doorstep… Funny you mention burning to the ground…
Fletcher: Ouch! Did someone give you a copy of our script for Issue #35 or are you just an… um, what do you call those people who predict things??
MTV: …A good guesser? Anyway, she’s got a brand new costume and look here – what inspired this? And what does it mean for how she operates, versus, say, Batman or Batwoman?
Stewart: Barbara is forced to make a new costume for herself when her old one becomes unavailable. The new one is something she’s able to make herself, shopping at the various boutique and vintage stores in Burnside. It also reflects her youth and style. Unlike Batman or Batwoman, she no longer needs to stay in the shadows, and in fact learns to embrace the spotlight.
MTV: It also seems like a lighter take on the character… Is she getting away from Gotham’s darkness, or deeper into it?
Stewart: She’s leaving it all behind her. We really wanted to make this a book with a light tone, of fun and adventure and mystery, and let the rest of the Bat-family deal with the darkness. She’s got problems, and conflict, and enemies to fight, but our priority was to make this a really fun, rollicking read.
MTV: How much of this is a clean break, versus getting some of Gotham’s many guest stars?
Stewart: Aside from someone with whom Barbara was formerly close, and is forced to deal with in an uncomfortable circumstance, it’s pretty much a clean break. Don’t expect to see Posion Ivy or Dick Grayson showing up any time soon.
Fletcher: These stories stand on their own, existing within continuity, of course, but not directly influenced by events in other books. Our first issue is the perfect jumping-on point for new readers.
MTV: Traditionally, Batgirl hasn’t had too much of her own rogues gallery, are we going to see any set up for that here?
Stewart: Our approach is to do a series of standalone, single-issue stories, connected by a longer story-arc. There will be a variety of new opponents for her to fight that arise from her new environment. Her first task is to deal with a sleazy internet blackmailer.
Fletcher: We want to see a Batgirl who can stand on her own, independent of Batman and Commissioner Gordon. She won’t be fighting her mentor’s villains or leaning on her family ties. This is Barbara Gordon breaking free, for better or worse!
MTV: Any final thoughts? Things you’d want readers who had never picked up a Batgirl book to know?
Stewart: Batgirl is a terrific character, she’s not motivated by tragedy or revenge, she’s fights for justice because she believes it’s the right thing to do. She’s whip-smart, kick-ass in a fight, and there’s a sense of fun and excitement around her that I think has made her an enduring character. We intend to showcase all of these qualities in a manner that we think hasn’t yet been seen in her title.
Fletcher: Be prepared to see a Batgirl you’ve never seen before. It’s time that Babs be allowed a little fun in her life! We intend to let her have all the fun she wants.