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"Darker in the Soul": Barbara Gordon married Steven Harris three years ago - another ginger. He was a cop, and the psychological associations with that were not lost on her at the time. At her wedding, her friend and former roo


Quote1 I know you, Bane. I see you. It was never enough to break some one physically, for you. You have to crush them in their soul. Like that swordsman in the desert. Like you tried to do with Batman. It won't work. I've lost everything and I'm still here. Quote2
-- Bête Noir



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Synopsis for "Darker in the Soul"

Barbara Gordon married Steven Harris three years ago - another ginger. He was a cop, and the psychological associations with that were not lost on her at the time. At her wedding, her friend and former roommate Alysia and her pregnant girlfriend Jo were in attendance, prompting Steven to hint that he might like to have children with Barbara. The wedding was interrupted, though, by her psychotic brother James, who pointed a gun at Barbara and insisted that her new husband walk off the roof of the GCPD Headquarters to his death to save her. Barbara rushed her brother, but she was too late to prevent Steven from killing himself for her. That was when she stopped loving Gotham City, and Batgirl died that day with him.

Now, there are three women with membership in the League of Batgirls, who do not work for the Batman, but for the Bête Noire - a foe more punishing than even the Batman. Together, Cassandra Cain, Tiffany Fox, and Stephanie Brown take down a gang of car thieves who outnumber them. Still, Bête Noire warns that no ring of car thieves would dare stand up to her agents. Which begs the question, why a pair of them are trying to run the girls down in their car. Single-handedly, Stephanie smashes the windshield of the car and covers the drivers with goop. She then reports back, after searching the car, that the men weren't thieves, they were gun runners - and they work for Bane. Hearing this, Bête Noire orders the girls home.

Barbara had done nothing for the six months following her botched wedding, besides hunt data. She became an inside man in Gotham crime. Somehow, the crooks never expected her to turn on them. They barely noticed her until her hand was around their throat. It took her two years to dismantle 70% of the crime syndicates in Gotham, and Barbara Gordon was off the map forever. She learned all she could from each crook she broke, and faced the last remaining villain she knew: Bane.

For six months, she was not allowed to speak to his soldiers. She trained all day and cleaned the latrines. She was not allowed to see Bane until she made a statement out of snapping one of his soldier's arms. Her training then continued in a different way. He had her drive him to kill the best fighter in a remote country - a warlord - merely to prove his superiority. It was only moments into their fight that Bane snapped the man's spine over his knee. He took the man's soldier's from him, and continued his campaign. Barbara tried to withhold her own disgust for his actions.

They fought and trained for so long that Barbara began to feel as though he was one of three father figures in her life. One day, he wondered aloud why she continued to fight him - why she wanted to defeat him so much. She responded that she actually wanted to be him, not beat him. He responded that if she intended to do that, she would have to use the Venom, as he did. So, she became the Bête Noire. When she had the chance to kill him, and she couldn't, she decided to leave - and she was never a child again.

Now, Bane contacts her in her hide-out and warns that he has been watching the three Batgirls, and though they are talented, they will not find the six bombs he has placed in crowded areas around Gotham. If she intends to stop him, she will have to come to him herself, and complete her training.

When the Batgirls return to the cave, they find that Barbara is gone, and she has left only a message conveying her intent to face Bane alone, and that she doesn't expect to see them again. Her farewells show her care and admiration for each of her wards.

When Bane sees her, he admits that he has always known that she was Barbara Gordon. He believes she came to him those years ago because she wanted to lose. She wanted him to break her spine and put her in the wheelchair again - to make her life what it was before her wedding. Defiantly, Barbara punches him in the jaw, knowing he never understood her. He persists, reminding that she only came now because she wanted to see it come to an end. His words shake her, as she begins to doubt her own motivations. Still, she steels herself and comments that she knows him as he knows her. It was never enough for him to break someone physically. He had to crush their souls. He will not succeed in that with her today. She has already lost everything, and she still remains. As it happens, she wants to live.

Barbara tears the mask from her face, revealing her tearful smile, as she beats him brutally, revealing to his surprise that she never actually used his Venom. She had made herself a goddess on her own steam. Powerfully, she knocks him unconscious, and as he falls, he woozily admits that her training is complete, but weakly releases the pressure-sensitive detonator. Fortunately, Tiffany, at only twelve years old, catches the device, and saves the city.

When the others catch up to her, Barbara admits that she'd like to be called by her real name again, though it's been years. She hugs her wards to her, and admits to herself that while she had left, in a wonderful way, through these young women, Batgirl never really left Gotham at all.



Notes

  • This book was first published on September 10, 2014.
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