The cover of this trade gives away a pretty big (please forgive me) spoiler regarding the main storyline here. Obviously, Spoiler (or someone donning her costume, as Stephanie Brown is supposed to be dead) reappears in Gotham, throwing Tim Drake for a whirl as he angrily tries to hunt down this imposter.
The comic doesn’t open with this, of course. It’s a much slower build than that. Instead, we watch as Tim tries to juggle his vigilante work with his “day job” of going to school and being a normal teenager. He argues with his current girlfriend, who’s feeling neglected, and daydreams a lot about Stephanie, his lost love. He even believes he’s seeing her around school, convinced his mind is playing tricks on him.
In his cowled nightlife, Robin confronts a new vigilante in town who has been robbing thieves and criminals in order to earn a profit. Early descriptions of the unknown woman sound a lot like Spoiler, but when Robin goes to investigate he finds that it’s someone else entirely.
This new player on the scene, Violet, largely remains a mystery at this point. Yes, she steals, but she only steals from criminals, and some of the money she takes winds up being put to charitable means. She’s clearly got her own moral code to follow, and given how much she and Robin didn’t hit it off in this story, I’m guessing they will be butting heads in future storylines.
The story is amped up when Robin finally comes face to face with the actual Spoiler. Not surprisingly, he is incredibly upset to see someone donning Stephanie’s uniform.
Tim lets his anger run wild, yet can’t help but notice that this imposter calls him by his real name; whoever she is, clearly she knows a lot more than he would have guessed. Determined to set her straight, Robin joins up with Batman and the pair track down this girl to tell her to stop parading around in that uniform. Robin is taken by surprise though when she pulls off her mask and reveals her true identity: none other than Stephanie Brown.
Robin’s reaction feels believable, not to mention too cute for words.
But wait a minute, I know what you’re thinking (or at least what I was thinking): Didn’t Stephanie die at the end of War Crimes? Wasn’t there that whole major storyline where Leslie Thompkins let her die, leading to her fleeing to Africa and Batman telling her never to return??
Well, yes. But as it turns out, they’ve decided to adjust that just a bit.
Batman says he always “suspected” this may have been the case. Of course he did. He’s Batman.
All I can say is HALLELUJAH. I hated the way War Crimes ended, both in Stephanie’s death and in a complete change in character for Leslie Thompkins. This may be my favorite retcon so far, and one that I think was desperately needed. I don’t know who at DC thought the events in War Crimes were a good idea, but I’m so glad they finally came to their senses and adjusted this story accordingly. With Stephanie back in town, perhaps she and Tim can pick up where they left off (it’s always so much more fun reading about superhero couples, rather than one superhero who has to keep his identity a secret from a civilian). The story doesn’t give too much detail about what’s going to happen now, other than confirming that Batman will allow Stephanie to continue in her role as Spoiler (it’s so cute that he thinks he has a say). There’s a brief Robin/Spoiler team-up issue at the end, but it still shows the duo on slightly shaky ground. They’re still trying to readjust to everything that’s happened, but I’m hoping they become more in tune with one another as the story progresses.
To sum up: Stephanie’s alive, yay! Leslie Thompkins isn’t a bad guy, yay! Batman kinda suspected this the whole time but said nothing, grrrr!! Oh well, that’s comics for you 🙂