Batgirl has remained one of DC Comics's hottest titles, buoyed by the youthful prose of writers Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart, along with the fun and sexy artwork of Babs Tarr - even without employing a love triangle.
But after attending a Batman editorial summit in January hosted by Batman group editor Mark Doyle, the Batgirl creative team decided a love triangle could work, if only for one issue.
The Batgirl team learned at that Bat-summit that two major events would be happening in DC's Bat-universe: Commissioner Gordon would be taking over as Batman for the foreseeable future, and Dick Grayson - the first and former Robin the Boy Wonder, and former Batgirl crush - would reveal himself to be alive after faking his death (a secret known only by Batman) as he became a world-class spy.
"These are two things that would really affect Barbara Gordon," Stewart told The Washington Post. "We started looking at how to incorporate those big milestones in the Bat-universe, and this is the second one. We addressed Barbara's father being the Caped Crusader of Gotham (in an earlier issue of Batgirl), but now of course, we're addressing the fact that this fellow (Grayson) that she used to kind of have a teen crush on - who had a teen crush on her several years back - is now back from the dead, back in Gotham (and) back in her life."
No problem, right? DC's new, sexier image of Grayson as a spy, in addition to hidden-though-hinted-at feelings between the former Robin and current Batgirl, is right up the alley of this title's tone. Except that Barbara is getting cozy with Luke Fox, the son of top Batman tech-helper Lucius Fox, and doesn't have room in her life for former sidekicks.
The plot thickens, at least for one issue, in No. 45 of Batgirl, which landed Wednesday at comic shops virtual and physical.
Barbara and Luke are attending a wedding between close friends. Luke is Barbara's date of choice, and the former superhero comes through a window at the most inopportune time.
Tarr says she wanted to make Barbara's current boyfriend and back-from-the-dead suitor represent a tough decision for Batgirl and fans of the comic. (She draws Grayson and Fox with the same flair she's been known for in helping make Batgirl a hot read.)
"I didn't want it to be an easy choice. I wanted everybody to have just as hard a time as Babs," Tarr told Comic Riffs. "I think both guys have great qualities. Dick Grayson, the way the guys wrote him, was so fun. And I had such a good time drawing him, I didn't have to hold back at all, so you guys are getting a full-blown dreamy dude.
"Luke is so cute, too. I think the guys wrote such a great character moment for him at the end" of No. 45.
Fletcher says that Luke Fox provides Barbara Gordon with a potential love interest with similarities that go beyond simply putting bat-symbols on their chests (Luke has suited up as Batwing). Both, for instance, had stable upbringings, and both take after their fathers.
"(Barbara) doesn't need the danger and excitement to necessarily create your bonds for you (as would be the case with Grayson)," Fletcher said. "Maybe Barbara is at a point where she's had enough of that, or she recognizes that's not what she needs in her life as much. These are things that she's exploring for herself, and Luke's a great guy to explore that with."
As to whether this will be a one-time visit, or whether Grayson will return to Burnside (Gotham's hipster neighborhood, where Batgirl resides), several factors come into play. He's been pretty busy in his own title Grayson and the recently debuted Batman and Robin Eternal.
"Whether or not we're going to see Dick Grayson in the Batgirl series again, that's up for debate," Fletcher said. "He's pretty busy in his own book - I don't know that he's got much time for us anymore,"
So, any more love triangles ahead? "Babs gave (Grayson) a pretty solid message," Stewart said. "But who's to say?"
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