As I’ve mentioned before, the DC relaunch has the capability to shake a lot of things up. It would seem the Bat Family is no exception. Lets start with a few of the big news pieces.
When the relaunch comes into effect in September, it has been reported that Bruce Wayne will be the only man to wear the Batman cowl. Logically, we can assume this means Dick Grayson is out as Batman. I was a fan of Dick as Batman, but I never expected to see him remain the Bat forever. What does this mean for Dick then? Nothing official has come out stating Dick’s name, but DC has announced that one of the books to be released is Nightwing #1. That, and the cover has been released (pictured below).
Nightwing #1 Cover
As you can see, Nightwing is one of the DC heroes that has recieved a redesigned costume. This costume includes gauntlets very similar to those on the Batman suit. Notice, that I said Nightwing and not Dick Grayson. Nothing has been announced in regards to Dick wearing the Nightwing mask. With the color change from blue to red and the slightly more aggressive looking suit one could question whether Dick Grayson is in fact Nightwing. It has been teased in the past that Jason Todd would assume the mantle of Nightwing and the new costume looks much more like something Jason would wear than Dick. Factor in the fact that Jason has acted as the Red Hood and Red Robin and its enough to cast doubt in my mind as to whether Dick Grayson has returned to being Nightwing. (Update: When I wrote this post there had been no official announcement as to the identity of Nightwing. Currently DC has stated that Dick Grayson is Nightwing. Therefore my conspiracy theory shown above was just a mental exercise.)
Next up, is Batgirl. IGN has a cover gallery of all the upcoming first issues in the DC Relaunch. One of which included Batgirl #1, pictured below. If you look close you’ll see some differences from the current Batgirl Stephanie Brown.
Batgirl #1 Cover
As you may have noticed, this Batgirl does not have blonde hair like the current version portrayed by Stephanie Brown. With Batgirl now having red hair, it would be a reasonable guess to say that Barbara Gordon, the once original Batgirl, will be re-donning the cowl. Needless to say, this could be one of the biggest changes yet with this reboot. One last fact that lends a big more credence to Babs coming back as Batgirl is that longtime Birds of Prey scribe Gail Simone will be writing the new Batgirl books. Arguably, she is the writer most associated with Barbara Gordon over the last few years. Of course, one other thing to bear in mind is that much like the possibility of Dick Grayson becoming Nightwing once more, DC has made no announcements regarding the new Batgirl.
Like was mentioned earlier, this could be one of the biggest changes to come from the DC Relaunch. I have enjoyed Bryan Q. Miller’s work on Batgirl. However, I do think Barbara Gordon returning to her role of Batgirl could be pretty cool. There are a couple of questions though. Firstly, is The Killing Joke being retconned? In 1988 the Joker shot Barbara in the spine leaving her paralyzed in what is quite possibly one of my favorite Batman books. I would hate to see this awesome story retconned, and I’m sure the Batman fanboys would agree with me. Second, if The Killing Joke isn’t retconned how will they give Barbara back the use of her legs and in effect unparalyze her? Finally, what happens to Oracle? With Babs out as Batgirl will someone else assume the role of Oracle or will it just go away? Hopefully someone takes over Oracle’s responsibilities.
There are a lot of questions left to be answered in regards to both the Batgirl and Nightwing relaunches. Hopefully some facts are cleared up between now and September, but I have a feeling that DC is going to leave fans guessing as long as possible. I can tell you this much though, if DC is screwing with us and having Stephanie Brown, the current Batgirl, dye her hair red just to mess with the fans I’m going to be really annoyed.
Update: When I wrote this article there had been no official announcement that Barbara Gordon was becoming Batgirl once more. Since then it has been announced that Babs is returning as Batgirl.