Batgirl: Stephanie Brown by author Bryan Q Miller, Illustrations Lee Garbett and Trevor Scott
First, there was Cassandra Cain. She was an undeniable talent as Batgirl. Fighting was her life, combat was her language, she lived to be Batgirl. It was everything to her, she literally knew nothing else.
Then came Stephanie Brown. She is certainly no Cassandra Cain, and no one, NO ONE lets her forget it.
Batgirl: Stephanie Brown, is all about lesser Batgirl and she is never given a chance to become anything more. She’s placed in, well, third place if we also count Barbara Gordon’s run of Batgirl, and it’s doubtful she’ll ever rise above it.
Barbara Gordon is still present, as oracle, and is resentful of Stephanie getting to take the role she wishes she could still have. She reluctantly agrees to help in her roll of oracle before a functional friendship is formed between the two.
Stephanie Brown may have some backstory in another book, but it’s not really discussed in this one why she is Batgirl. She has rudimentary skills as a fighter, she lives at home with her mother, and attends college full time. None of these things add up to being a successful vigilante crime fighter.
The only thing she really has going for her is access to Bruce Wayne’s money and a supply of Bat gear. Without that she would just be every other college girl who took a self defense course.
I never understood her motivation for wanting to be a crime fighter. She has so much to loose! Heroes typically have no loved ones and are super damaged, she’s too well adjusted and on a straight path to traditional success. It doesn’t really make sense.
It also makes her pretty boring. Her big drama is some issue with one of the Robins that she briefly dated. Yawn. He undermines her constantly and so does that little jerk Robin Damien, you just wanna punt him!
In addition to being boring and underwritten, Batgirl: Stephanie Brown lacks a central plot. There are many completely unrelated mini stories including a very silly one involving Dracula and Supergirl. Just really childish and silly in the wrong ways.
The art is good, so there is that saving grace. I really enjoy all the purples in her color themes. But that’s not nearly enough to carry this throwaway of a book. It’s a shame the writer appears to have no faith in Stephanie Brown himself. He had the opportunity to give her purpose and drive and make her stand on par with her predecessors but he chose to forever leave her in third place.
I’m disappointed with Batgirl: Stephanie Brown, I hope there are other books out there where she is allowed to have her own real story and not just crouch in the shadows of others.
For Cassandra Cain’s Batgirl check out Batgirl, Issues 1-37
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