Jonathan Rich writes for BleedingCool.
No matter what your favorite incarnation of Batman's young female sidekick, know that those in charge of her most recent past and future want Barbara Gordon to continue to be a fun and hopeful light in the Dark Knight's often grim and gritty extended DC universe.
Friday at Heroes Convention in Charlotte, members of the creative team who recently left the popular DC comic and some of those charged with her future after DC Rebirth talked about both what initially inspired them about the character and what is yet to come following the relaunch.
"I only knew her from Batman: The Animated Series," confessed artist Babs Tarr, who redesigned and drew the titular character in Batgirl from October 2014 through the recent end of that series. "I grew up reading manga and I didn't even know there were other Batgirls before I got on the book."
Writer Brenden Fletcher said he likewise had an affinity for the character, but his first brush with Batgirl was Yvonne Craig's live-action version via reruns of the campy 1960s series.
"I broke up with a young woman because she called me when the show was on, and I had asked her not to," Fletcher jokingly shared regarding having his prized TV viewing time interrupted. "I watched Yvonne Craig in the original TV series and that representation of Barbara Gordon really stuck with me and I tried to bring some of that into our version of Batgirl."
For artist Rafael Albuquerque, who will be drawing the character after the DC Rebirth relaunch, his first Batgirls were even more modern.
"When I started reading comics in the late 80s and early 90s, Oracle was kind of the 'cerebro' of the Batman team," Albuquerque said of the wheelchair-bound cybersluth iteration of Barbara Gordon "but when I saw what you guys did, that really connected with me too. You brought the hopeful and cheerful idea back to the comics when things were so dark and gritty."
"She's the light in Batman's darkness," Tarr playfully interjected.
"The Batgirl theme from the show actually sounds bright and hopeful," added Fletcher before Albuquerque dropped a bombshell.
"I also remember Alicia Silverstone, even if that movie's so bad," the new artist joked.
"Is that what you're bringing to the table?" posited Fletcher.
"Yes. Silverstone. That's what my take on the character is all about," Albuquerque responded with a laugh.
All kidding aside, Albuquerque did let a few details slip about the new version of the character he is helping to bring to live with celebrated indie comics author Hope Larson.
"I cannot talk much about it, but I am drawing a lot of Singapore and Okinawa," the new artist explained. "We have designed a new chapter for Batgirl and she's obsessed with a legendary hero who is some kind of character from the 1950s Okinawa. It looks like Batgirl, but it is not. The whole arc is about her visiting Asian countries and training to be a better hero who is not in the shadow of Batman. And there is the possibility of a love interest. Maybe."
Albuquerque said he was inspired by the previous incarnations of Batgirl and having a chance to work on the character with beloved writer Larson sealed the deal.
"Hope was one of the main reasons for me to do this," he said. "Initially, my response to the offer was no, because how could we top what had already been done? But, this was scary and challenging for me and as it is her first mainstream work I'm enjoying it so much. Her story showed me there was a way to bring Batgirl into a new journey."
Both Fletcher and Tarr agreed the mantle of Batgirl was in good hands.
"We as a team are super excited about them both coming on board. It's bittersweet for us to leave our baby, so it's a huge relief we can hand it over to friends. His pages are amazing and I love where it is going."
Photo: Pictured left to right are artist Babs Tarr, writer Brenden Fletcher, and artist Rafael Albuquerque at Heroes Con 2016.
Jonathan Rich is a freelance journalist, high school educator, and self-professed comic book nerd working in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina. He writes about entertainment and pop culture for various print and web publications, including bleedingcool.com.