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On Tuesday night I posted Adam Hughes’ cover for Batgirl #2. The piece was lovely, of course, but I noted at the time that Barbara Gordon looked very young to me. Readers weighed in and there were some who thought she looked like a teenager while others felt that she didn’t look younger or that it was simply the way the cover was composed. The cover was also discussed at Robot6 and Comicvine.
So is Barbara Gordon purposely being presented as younger on the cover? Based on a comment from Adam Hughes’ wife, she is. Last night, the artist Alison Sohn left me a comment stating:
The editors at DC told Adam that the cover to issue one looked too old, and asked him to make her younger looking. He’s just drawing what he’s told to draw.
Does this mean Barbara Gordon has been deaged? Probably.
DC had stated when it announced the reboot that they would be deaging characters.
"We looked at what was going on in the marketplace and felt we really want to inject new life in our characters and line," added co-publisher Dan DiDio. "This was a chance to start, not at the beginning, but at a point where our characters are younger and the stories are being told for today’s audience.”
We know for certain some characters are going to be younger. Firestorm, for example, is now a high school student. And certainly the pencils of Bruce Wayne that Greg Capullo posted show a less grizzled version than the one we’ve seen recently in Batman, Inc.
The writer of Batgirl Gail Simone has alluded to the fact this may be a younger version. In her interview with Jill Pantozzi she discussed the issue of putting Barbara back into a role of with “girl” in its name:
About the girl thing, if she’s thirty-plus years old and been in the JLA and run the Birds of Prey and been in a tower for a couple decades, yeah, it’s a little weird and wrong. But I keep seeing comments as if the word, “Girl” is in itself toxic, or insulting. And that is a weird piece of business in itself, far bigger than this comic book. All I can really say here is that the name makes sense to Babs in the story, for reasons we can’t say yet. But I think it will make sense to readers, too, in context.
DC has already stated that some things will stay as canon in this reboot including The Killing Joke and A Death in Family (as well as Blackest Night). Taking into account those events makes the new timeline fairly tight to play with character’s ages. But a deaging also brings up questions in reference to Barbara Gordon’s history. Just how much of her past will be in this version of the character? What will remain of her history before she was Batgirl? How long was she Batgirl originally? And how long will she have been Oracle before becoming Batgirl once again?
And then there is this statement from the FAQ for the DC retailer road show:
But many of the great stories remain. For example – Batgirl. The Killing Joke still happened and she was Oracle. Now she will go through physical rehabilitation and become a more seasoned and nuanced character because she had these incredible and diverse experiences.
I am not sure how much more “seasoned and nuanced” the current version of Barbara Gordon would be able to be given her already rich and diverse experiences, so it does seem like they are making her younger.
Batgirl is being written by Gail Simone who knows (and loves) the character more than any DC writer so it is not a question of respect for the character, but a question of how she can fit in all her legacy if this is, indeed, a younger version of the character.
Here’s a look at the two covers showing the difference in how the characters are drawn; cover one is on the left and the second cover is on the right:
What do you think about Barbara Gordon being depicted as a younger woman?