You may not have heard the name Stephanie Brown before, but you know some of her aliases. She’s been Spoiler, Robin, and Batgirl. She’s known as Tim Drake’s girlfriend and a part of the Bat Family. She’s a survivor, a role model, and a fighter. She’s … rather forgettable to the casual comic fan. Heroes in crisis even makes a reference to how little she’s remembered by both fans and writers.
Why is she so forgettable though? She has a classic back story; her father is Cluemaster, a villain of Batman. Disagreeing with her father’s chosen profession, she dawned a suit and became Spoiler, basically spoiling all his plans. She ran into Robin, Tim Drake, who helped take down her father. Deciding that being a vigilante was exciting, she started to join Robin more on his adventures.
She got herself in trouble a number of times from inexperience and Batman tried to force her to quit. She refuses and trains harder than ever, becoming better as her relationship with Robin evolved into romance. Robin stayed by her side when she learned she was pregnant from her ex, and he helped support her when she gave her daughter up for adoption. We also later learn that *TRIGGER WARNING* she was sexually assaulted as a child and her father had her assailant killed.
When Tim had to give up being Robin for a while, she went to the Batcave and demanded that Batman train her. As the fourth Robin she had a short career, fired after she disobeyed Batman to save his life. In an attempt to show him she was worthy of being a hero, she tried to take out a crime syndicate, but she ended up killed when things went wrong.
But as we all know, no one stays dead. Turns out her death was faked, infuriating Tim, and she again became Spoiler.
The peak of her career
As a character, Stephanie really came into her own when she became the third Batgirl. Bryan Q. Miller writes her as a more developed hero with depth deserving of her title. As Batgirl she puts a dent in Gotham’s Rogue Gallery, getting along well with the new Batman, Dick Grayson who takes up the mantle, and the rest of the batfamily. More mature and experienced, this run was well received.
Then the downfall
Unfortunately, her brief stint of being treated well was soon over as the New 52 retconned the entire DC universe. She was not reintroduced until the Batman Eternal story, and was only a small character with no real significance. While Barbra Gordon, then Batgirl, did take her under her wing she was still rather insignificant.
He story sadly gets worse in Rebirth. Despite being reintroduced, again, this time as a part of the Bat Emergency Response Team, she is regulated to “the girlfriend” role to Tim Drake. Unlike in the original story where their romance was an add on to their character development, this was more of a plot device. When Tim Drake died (not for long) she became depressed and eventually turned on the Batfamily. She rejoined for a short time when Tim came back, but left again after he decided to keep his new mantle of Red Robin. She’s not seen again until a future Batman and Tim mock her, because of course, and she has Tim investigate different timelines.
There is Hope
Stephanie has had a brief cameo in Young Justice, a reboot of the same title that personally got me loving comics. She and Tim are in a healthy and mature relationship (finally) and she is last heard from in the most recent Young Justice title texting Tim for back up.
From this I assume we’ll be seeing her soon, but I’m not going to get my hopes up too much. While I love what Bendis is doing for DC at the moment, until it’s actually in front of me I will stay cautious.
Why she deserves better, and why we as fans do to
Stephanie’s development in her Batgirl run was stunningly brilliant. Many people became fans and enjoyed this spunky blonde out for justice. Her interactions with the rest of the Batfamily are pure and wholesome. She has a compelling back story that is relatable to so many; having a mother suffering depression, dad that wasn’t around, a survivor, and a teen mom who had to make a hard choice. She’s one of the more REAL characters in my own opinion that has a connection for so many. I truly hope to see her more in the future.