Batgirl #49 Retcons Major Part of DC History?


Batgirl #49 erases a major event in Barbara Gordon’s past

Batgirl has gone through a lot of changes in the last year. She regained the use of her legs, dropping the Oracle moniker and reclaiming the Batgirl cowl. She also went away to college, and it brought a much brighter alternative to the dark and grim world of Batman. I highly recommend checking out Vol 1., the Batgirl of Burnside if you haven’t already, it’s a great trade. But the biggest change for Batgirl may have just come in the latest issue, #49, which claims a major traumatic event is just a false memory.

In Batgirl #49, Barbara Gordon battles a villain named Fugue, who messes with her mind and implanted false memories. This panel from that issue indicates that the most traumatic event in Barbara Gordon’s life might have never happened.

Spoilers for Batgirl #49 follow:

This panel indicates that the events of the seminal graphic novel The Killing Joke never happened. Barbara Gordon was never shot by the Joker, never crippled, never became Oracle for a period of time, etc. The comic sort of leaves it up in the air, never really confirming for certain that Batgirl’s memories of those events are false, but it sure makes it seem so.

Batgirl artist Babs Tarr hinted at the retcon being true, as tweeted “We undid some things…” not long after the issue came out. Writer Cameron Stewart was a little more diplomatic and ambiguous on the matter, stating that fans should interpret it as they see fit. If they believe this means Killing Joke never happened, that’s the takeaway, and vice-versa.

Next: Rebirth To Have Very Controversial Scene

The Killing Joke remains an important and seminal book, but it’s not sacred canon. They’ve redone the origin of the Joker so many times that it’s lost all meaning in that aspect, so there’s really no reason this aspect of thee story can’t be retconned as well. It’ll be interesting to see if this sticks with DC’s “Rebirth”, which they swear is not a reboot, but still contains a bunch of big changes, right around the corner, Batgirl #49 is available right now.