""The Last Batgirl Story"": Four years ago, Batgirl attempted to thwart an assassination attempt by a killer called Cormorant. However, she soon discovered that the little girl he held hostage was not his intended target; it was Batgirl
- Watch your back, woman. I'm coming to get you. I don't buy your lies. No killing is justified. Ever.
- — Batgirl
Batgirl Special #1 is a one-shot with a cover date of July, 1988.
Synopsis for "The Last Batgirl Story"
Four years ago, Batgirl attempted to thwart an assassination attempt by a killer called Cormorant. However, she soon discovered that the little girl he held hostage was not his intended target; it was Batgirl herself. When he opened fire on her, she leapt over the edge of the building and hung from a flagpole hoping that Cormorant would think he had succeeded in killing her. In some ways, he had succeeded. Some part of her had died that day, and she was reduced to a world of haze and self-protection.
Now, Barbara still has dreams of being hunted and killed by Cormorant. Her feelings are made worse by the fact he has apparently returned to commit a murder right under her nose in the Gotham City Library where she works. Particularly troubling is the fact that his distinctive hat has been left behind, as if to suggest that he knows who she is.
Barbara takes charge of the crime scene, having her coworkers call the police and secure the area while she makes sure nobody touches the body - an excuse to do some investigating of her own. She searches the body, and pockets a note just before the police arrive. The coroner determines that the corpse is one David Scarano, and the police begin the process of questioning the library's patrons.
Barabara uses her hacking skills to break into the victim's file, only to discover that he was the son of a criminal called General Scarr - the same man who hired Cormorant to kill her. David's own rap sheet shows that he has a history of violence against women, and she deduces that his father decided he was enough of a liability to send Cormorant after him.
When she finally gets home, Barbara prepares to go out as Batgirl, and begins a routine that she always performs; a weapons and equipment check that assures her that she is prepared. Despite all of her equipment being in top form, her own self is not, and she goes to sleep instead.
The next morning, somebody dumps a body on the street outside the 13th precinct of the Gotham City Police Department. Along with the body is a note claiming that the killer's victims are people who have committed unacceptable crimes against women. The media dubs the killer "Slash," and a vigilante.
Later that morning, Barbara receives a visit from her old friend Marcy. Despite their happy reunion, Marcy's first act is to chastise Barbara, having guessed that her friend is also the mysterious Batgirl. They had created Batgirl together, and she is upset that she could lose Barbara to the persona they created together. In order to help her friend understand her, Barbara retrieves the doll of Batgirl that they made together, and Marcy comes to realize that Barbara had never let the dream they had fade.
Later, in the middle of the day, Slash confronts a man named Iverson on a crowded sidewalk, and stabs him for his crimes against women. After abandoning his body in the street, she sneaks off into an alley and removes her disguise, disappearing.
Marcy insinuates herself on Barbara's research into the Cormorant case, and together they discover that Cormorant's real name is Edward Wells. Not only this, but they have his address, too. Marcy suggests that they call the police, but Barbara is bent on revenge. She feels that she needs to face him herself in order to stop being afraid of him.
She stakes out his house, where his wife passes him an important phone call. While he answers it, his wife overhears a news report on Slash, and considers that maybe the vigilante will come for her husband, given that he beats her frequently. After hanging up the phone, Cormorant goes into his back room and prepares to make his next hit - Slash.
Before Barbara can make a move, Marcy appears in her car and orders her to get in. She warns that Barbara has no real proof that Cormorant is the killer and that she is behaving like a common prowler. While Barbara is chasing Cormorant, she is letting Slash - the real killer - go free. Begrudgingly, Barbara admits that she may be on the wrong track.
That night, Slash sneaks into an apartment to find a woman waiting for her there. The woman offers the killer a job; another man to add to the list of evil people who abuse women. The woman passes Slash a file on Cormorant and warns that he plans to kill her, so she will have to act first.
Finally turning her attention to Slash, Barbara determines that the killer must have access to police records in order to know her victims' crimes. She cross-references lists of unconvicted men who have committed crimes against women, and determines that the next likely victim is one Anthony Caterino. He has chosen to stay in a half-way house rather than protective custody, which makes him vulnerable.
Batgirl stakes out Caterino's window, knowing that the guards outside will keep him safe. However, she catches sight of movement from within his room, and realizes that Slash is already inside. Batgirl smashes in through the window and confronts the killer, who holds Caterino hostage. Slash challenges her to stay back, lest Caterino's death become more painful. Batgirl responds that while she is out for justice against people like him, she leaves it to the courts to decide who is guilty, rather than killing. Slash is disgusted by Batgirl's attitude, and attacks, stating that if Batgirl hadn't been made weak by man's influence, she would be able to protect herself from the blows. Finally, she stabs Batgirl in the shoulder and leaps through the window.
Barbara attempts to give chase, but her thoughts are haunted by her failure at the hands of Cormorant, and eventually they overwhelm her, and she collapses. She dreams of Cormorant, now accompanies by Slash, killing her over and over again. Rising, and shaking off the dream, Barbara decides that it's time to give up being Batgirl. She returns to her home and collapses on the floor in front of Marcy.
Marcy helps to bandage Barbara's stab-wound, thankful that her friend has finally seen logic. She encourages Barbara to do the research and find the evidence, and turn it over to the police rather than putting herself into danger. However, despite keeping up appearances, Barbara still intends to stop Slash on her own. She can't stand the thought of leaving loose ends.
Barbara goes out again as Batgirl, but she finds that despite arriving at the scenes of a number of crimes, she is always a moment too late, as some other hero swoops in and stops the criminals. Eventually she comes to realize that she is but a minor force among heroes these days, and the city is well protected without her help. She decides that with the info she gathers on Slash, she can leave it with other heroes, and know that she will be captured. On the other hand, she lacks the evidence to have Cormorant caught by others, and so she determines to catch him herself.
Batgirl breaks into Cormorant's home while he is there, and confronts him. Cormorant admits no connection to the murder of David Scarano, and invites her for a drink. Batgirl's obvious obsession amuses Cormorant, and he jokes that while he botched the assassination contract on her, he clearly made an impression. He reaches behind his bar, and pulls out a shotgun. He pulls the weapon on her, warning that she lacks evidence, and is essentially trespassing, making his use of the gun self-defence.
Cormorant's wife interrupts them, but he orders her to stay inside as he forces Batgirl out onto the front porch. However, this gives Slash, who has been hiding outside, the opportunity to stab Cormorant in the back. Angrily, the assassin turns to get back inside, but finds that his wife has locked the door. In his frustration, he fails to stop Batgirl from kicking him hard in the chest.
From that point, it becomes a standoff between Slash and Batgirl as to what to do with Cormorant. Both women distracted, Cormorant escapes to his gun room and arms himself. Desperately, Batgirl drops a smoke bomb, avoiding the gunfire. Hoping that Cormorant will run out of ammo soon, Batgirl picks up one of Slash's knives and arms herself with it. Unfortunately, Cormorant manages to emerge from the smoke, and points his gun in her face. Seeing that Slash is still alive and preparing to attack the gunman, Barbara is forced to decide between saving herself, or saving the man who has haunted her dreams for years. Begrudgingly, she chooses to save Cormorant, and tosses the knife into Slash's chest.
Cormorant is amused, and tosses his guns away, preparing to take Batgirl with his bare hands. She proves to be more resistant than he expects, beating him mercilessly until he crumples on the ground. Weakly, he reaches for his gun at the same time that his wife puts another gun into Slash's hand. As Cormorant prepares to fire on Batgirl, Slash shoots him through the head. Before collapsing herself, Slash admits that she couldn't let Cormorant kill Batgirl - another woman.
The police arrive later to find Cormorant dead, his wife smiling happily, and Slash badly injured but expertly bandaged. Afterward, Barbara returns home and offers Marcy a present: her Batgirl costume. She decides that while she may still help others fight crime, her own role will not be to go out and put herself in danger anymore.
Appearing in "The Last Batgirl Story"
- Marcy (Single appearance)
- Anthony Caterino (Only appearance; dies)
- David Joseph Scarano (Only appearance; dies)
- Gotham City Police Department
- Police Captain Walker
- Officer Ray
- Officer Riley
- Gotham Library Staff
- Althea (Single appearance)
- Pat (Single appearance)
- Roger (Single appearance)
- Stella (Single appearance)
- Mister Iverson (Only appearance; dies)
- Mrs. Wells (Single appearance)
- Nightwing (Cameo)
- Robin (Cameo)
- General Scarr (Mentioned only)
- Gotham City
- Barbara Gordon's apartment
- Gotham Public Library
- Police 13th Precinct Station
- St. Martins Ltd.
- The events of this issue have a strange place in continuity, if it has any place at all. The main plot of the story is based upon the events developed in Detective Comics #491 and #492. However, because these issues were published six years prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earths, they happened on the Earth-One universe. The background story and past of Barbara Gordon in this issue, also matches those of her Earth-One counterpart. It is unfortunate that this story was published two years after the Crisis, meaning that by chronological publication, this should be part of the New Earth continuity. This is further corroborated by the fact that this story was published as a send-off of Barbara's career as Batgirl, due to the events of Batman: The Killing Joke, where Barbara would be permanently crippled and which was published only a few days later. Carrying elements from Post and Pre Crisis continuities, it is unclear how much of these events are canon.
- This story is reprinted on Batgirl: A Celebration of 50 Years and is reprinted again in Batgirl: The Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 2.
- Writer Barbara Kesel is credited under her maiden name Barbara Randall in this issue.
- The note Batgirl finds at the first crime scene is never read or mentioned again.
- The identity of Slash is not revealed.
- Batgirl's deduction that General Scarr hired Cormorant to kill David Scarano is not followed up on, and at the end of the story it is still an open question if that's what happened.
- Batgirl Recommended Reading