The person behind the mask of the new Batgirl isn’t a completely a new character. She first appeared in Detective Comics #647 (August 1992) in a Batman story by Chuck Dixon and Tom Lyle and was originally intended to be a one-off character but quickly took on a life of her own.
Since then, Stephanie Brown has had three different costumed identities, had a baby that she gave up for adoption, been tortured and killed–a storyline that triggered a reader backlash that led to the creation of an entire community called Girl-Wonder.org–has been resurrected and now she’s currently wearing the identity of one of DC’s most recognizable heroes.
When Stephanie Brown returned from her supposed death, she first took up her old identity of The Spoiler–an identity created originally to foil the schemes of her father, the villain Cluemaster. This series is about how Steph evolved into the new Batgirl with the help of the original Batgirl, Barbara Gordon. Gordon, now the superhero known as Oracle, didn’t want Stephanie exposed to the life that nearly killed her once and thought she wasn’t good enough to be in the field. But Steph persevered and now the two work as a team, with Oracle directing the missions and Stephanie handling the physical activity.
Together, they protect Gotham.
What Kids Will Like About It:
Stephanie Brown is not the strongest superhero out there, she’s not the smartest, and she’s not the most skilled but she is one of the most determined. In a refreshing change, she’s not driven by vengeance or tragedy but rather a sense of responsibility. She first wore a costume to even the scales by “spoiling” her father’s crimes.
What my daughter liked about Steph is that she’s optimistic and has a sense of humor about her work. She knows the dark side of the job and while her near death matured her, it didn’t alter her irrepressible nature. She’s one of the few lead characters in the mainstream DC universe who genuinely seems to love her job. Writer Bryan Q. Miller seems to have her voice down nicely. And while bad things happen (this is Gotham, after all) the book has a lighter tone that reminds me of Dixon’s long work on the now-canceled Robin series.
What Parents Will Like About It:
It co-stars Barbara Gordon, the Batgirl most familiar to adult audiences. Babs is in a wheelchair but it hasn’t stopped her ability to fight crime. As Oracle, DC’s premier information specialist, she provides the brains behind the new team Batgirl. At first, I didn’t like how Miller portrayed Babs as somewhat cold and unfeeling but as the story progressed, Babs has mellowed back into the determined but compassionate character that I remember well from the Birds of Prey series.
There’s a preview of issue #9 at the DC blog that contains one of my favorite panels, with Batgirl being pulled along by a subway train.
About the Creators:
Miller is a veteran writer of the Smallville television series and wrote the episode “Hex” that introduced the magician Zatanna to the show. Lee Garbett is a British artist who has worked on both regular DC titles and the Wildstorm imprints. He is currently scheduled to write the last issue of the Return of Bruce Wayne limited series. He has a gallery of his work on his website.