DC Just Killed One of Batgirl's Biggest Villains

DC Comics has introduced a pretty wide array of villains over the years, ranging from multiverse-shattering antagonists to smaller-scale foes. While some have definitely fallen to the wayside, a lot have been reintroduced or reimagined over the past few years in the DC Rebirth relaunch, with some epic results. This was especially the case for a certain memorable DC villain, whose latest appearance in the canon was taken into an unexpected - and incredibly deadly - direction in the pages of Batgirl. While the series only has one more issue to wrap up its narrative, it certainly seems like it's leaving this foe dead for the time being. Spoilers for Batgirl #49 below! Only look if you want to know!

The issue opens with Barbara Gordon in a situation she wasn't expecting, as a random redheaded woman dressed as Batgirl is found dead in one of Gotham's alleys. The news of the death of this young woman - named Marley Evans - sends shockwaves through Gotham City and beyond, as people begin to think that Batgirl is truly dead. Barbara, meanwhile, uses this tragic situation as an opportunity to lay low, and hopefully figure out who was behind Marley's slaying.

This gets complicated when several other Batgirl lookalikes begin turning up dead in costume, each with nothing in common outside of their red hair. Barbara spends much of the issue trying to hunt down the killer, all while dodging the attempts from her brother, seemingly-reformed serial killer James Gordon Jr., to reconnect as a family. Barbara eventually pinpoints a location that she finds James Jr. at, but he swears that he's just there in an attempt to protect her. Then, James points her into the direction of where the serial killer will seemingly strike next -- a lighthouse in Gotham.

Barbara - as Batgirl - travels to the lighthouse, where she realizes that James Jr. has, in fact, been committing the murders, but does not remember doing so because of his dissociative identity disorder. Barbara begins talking to the more malicious side of James, who reveals that he'd become "The Redhead Killer" in an attempt to not only save his sister, but to take away the symbol of Batgirl that had been stealing away his family's attention.

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(Photo: DC Entertainment)

Barbara attempted to reason with James, who reassured that there was "only one way" to bring peace to the Gordon family. He declared that he loves Barbara, and proceeded to throw himself over the edge of the lighthouse, appearing to fall to his death.

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(Photo: DC Entertainment)

The issue ends with both Batgirl and Commissioner Gordon looking at James' dead body, with Gordon vowing to arrest Batgirl for manslaughter. She then disappears in a smoke bomb, but admits that she gives up after this latest tragedy.

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Given James Jr.'s significant and bone-chilling significance in the DCU - both as a serial killer and antagonist, and briefly as a member of the Suicide Squad - the event of his death is certainly shocking. It also adds an emotional layer to the ongoing battle between Gordon and Batgirl -- something that has only grown more complicated across the Rebirth run.

What do you think of James Gordon Jr.'s death in Batgirl #49? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!