Okay, so I know it’s fake, but when I first read this article from bleedingcool.com about bringing back the character of The Spoiler I couldn’t help but think that it really wouldn’t be worth it if it was true. Don’t get wrong, I’m a big fan of Stephanie Brown. It’s just that I think it would be a slap in the face not only to the fans (all 100 of us) but to Ms. Brown to bring her back sans her experience of being Batgirl.
When I first met Stephanie Brown she was dressed in an odd purple costume and went by the strange name of Spoiler. I forget now which comic introduced me to her [most likely it was Robin (the Tim “Worlds 2nd Greatest Detective” Drake version of course)] but I know that she made only a cameo appearance and when I was done reading she didn’t leave much of an impression on me. I didn’t really know who she was and, I’m sorry to say, I didn’t care much to find out. As the years went on I found out more and more about the character. However, I only ever started caring about her when she donned the cape and cowl and became Batgirl.
So why am I so against bringing “Spoiler” back as opposed to “Stephanie Brown?” First, let’s start with the name. The Spoiler. Doesn’t exactly strike fear into that superstitious and cowardly lot. She took on the identity of The Spoiler because her father was the super villain known as Cluemaster and she intended on spoiling all of his crimes. (See what she did there?) The problem here is that the name is meaningless to an outsider (no, not Batman’s often canceled/rebooted/poorly written by Didio-ed team). There is no need to explain what the name Batgirl implies. Criminals know you are an ally of the bat and that they are about to get their asses handed to them. With the name of Spoiler a criminal would need to know what her motivations are for the name to make any sense. The name could mean anything.
Second, and most importantly, the character spent years growing out of the role of Spoiler. After she got over her daddy issues there really was no need for her to be Spoiler anymore, and even though it was a publicity stunt she was eventually promoted to the role of Robin. Unfortunately, this was not the role she was born to play, so to speak. As Robin, she started a teensy-weensy gang war. Whoops. And then she died. Ouch. But actually she didn’t. Huh? Whatever, yay! I guess. But still, I wasn’t really on board with the character yet.
That changed in 2009 with Bryan Q. Miller’s brilliant take on Batgirl. If you haven’t read this yet you should pick it up. It should all be collected at this point. (Here is a link to the first volume. Buy it online OR go to your LCS!!!) The previous Batgirl quit and decided to give her costumed identity over to Stephanie. Now she had a name and a responsibility to live up to. And with Oracle (the original Batgirl) backing her up (Batman Beyond style!) Stephanie was finally able to grow and mature into the character she was always meant to be. She was amazing as Batgirl. She was aware of the mistakes she made in the past and was determined not to make the same mistakes now that she was Batgirl. She knew how important the role of Batgirl was and respected that immensely.
The New 52 asserts that Barbara Gordon has been the only person to call herself Batgirl. Even though she was out of commission for 3 full years no one else took on the mantle (but there were still about a million Robins in only 5 years…whatever) This means that Stephanie Brown was never Batgirl (not to mention Cassandra Cain…grrr) This is a huge mistake on Didio comics part…I mean DC comics. They could have easily let Cassy and Steph take on the role of Batgirl during Barbara’s absence but instead they decided to piss off a lot of loyal fans. We can keep all of our Green Lantern’s and Robin’s without an issue, but for some reason Batgirl is the exception to the rule.
The problem here is that if you take away her time as Batgirl we are left with The Spoiler again and the character is regressed back to a time when she wasn’t as compelling. If you do bring her back what exactly would there be to do with her? Would she be a screw up again? Would we, the fans, be forced to watch her grow up all over again? Or would she be as good as she was as Batgirl, somehow retaining the skills and confidence she gained by being Batgirl without ever actually taking on the role in the new 52 continuity?
Simply put, Stephanie Brown worked better as Batgirl, regardless of the bull that Didio spouts. Unless the character still reflects the growth she achieved as Batgirl then I’m not interested in a rebirth of The Spoiler. It would be like Dick Grayson putting the green underwear back on and no one wants to see that. Well, most of us don’t anyway.