I’m going a bit rogue, posting about comics out of continuity order, and ones I read quite a while back on top of that. I’m taking a more lackadaisical approach to the blog, writing about whatever comic I feel like, regardless of its place in continuity. I’m still reading the comics in continuity order to keep up the overall narrative, but why limit myself to writing about everything in order? It keeps it more fun this way.
Okay, on to the comic at hand:
I really, really like Stephanie Brown as Batgirl. Watching her begin as Spoiler, progressing to her all-t00-brief role as Robin, her death, the reveal that she was alive all along, and finally taking up the mantle of Batgirl has been quite a roller coaster. I was hesitant when Cassandra Cain took on the role; I liked Barbara and wasn’t thrilled when Cassandra took over. Then Cassandra left and Stephanie adopted the role, which was likewise a bit troublesome.
Yes, I was a bit attached to Barbara as Batgirl, and given how violently Barbara’s role as such ended, how could I not be a bit upset that the character was moving on without her?
Stephanie’s story was the best of both worlds, with Barbara’s Oracle mentoring and helping Stephanie as she adopted her new mask. The two shared a believable, sisterly bond, sometimes arguing and disagreeing but ultimately caring for one another and working together when it mattered most. More than anything, both young women felt incredibly relatable and real, no easy feat when dealing with masked vigilantes.
Not only does Stephanie deal with being Batgirl, but she gets to address plenty of other issues that typical teenagers might face. Breaking up with her boyfriend (Tim Drake), wanting Batman’s approval (no doubt a substitute for her absent father): these are all realistic scenarios that readers can relate to, while still providing escapism in the form of nightly crime-fighting. I’m a fan of this balance in stories, helping ground otherwise fantastical comics in our own reality.
Sadly, Stephanie’s tenure as Batgirl was all too brief. There are only a few short trades collecting her run as Batgirl before New 52 hit, altering continuity and making Barbara Gordon Batgirl once again, and this is the only trade from that run collected on “the shelf”. I haven’t come across any reference to Stephanie in the New 52 yet, either as Batgirl or otherwise, wondering if I will at all. It’s too bad, really. Stephanie was such a great addition to the Bat family, flawed and unsure, trying to come to terms with her own identity even as she attempted to craft one for herself. There was a humanity to her character that was all too real, and that went a long way in helping create a truly engaging, likable comic. I’m hoping at some point down the road, perhaps Stephanie will return. With Barbara back it seems unlikely, but I’m holding out hope that maybe she’ll come back in some capacity. She’s much dynamic to be kept out of the fray.