Over the past two years Bryan Q. Miller has taken a character from the scrapheap and transformed her into one of the most vibrant young stars of the DCU. Sadly, with the looming DC Reboot, Barbara Gordon will take the cowl, which means an end to these terrific adventures.
Stephanie Brown was created as little more than an afterthought by Chuck Dixon in 1992 (something she has in common with some of the best comic heroes of all time). Remembered for her rocky start, as a love interest for Robin, and her brief, and tragic, career as Robin, Stephanie was a character who never really found her place in the DCU.
Miller found a way to breathe new life into Miss Brown and for two years her stint as Batgirl has been a pleasant surprise month after month by providing one of the most consistently good storylines in comics. Stephanie Brown may be saying goodbye, but Miller has left us with some great memories. It was very difficult to cut the list down to ten (no matter what I did I couldn’t fine a way to sneak Batgirl’s meeting with Klarion onto the list), but without further delay here are the Top Ten Most Memorable Batgirl Moments.
Miller populated Stephanie Brown’s world with a variety of supporting characters including a young Gotham City Police Detective Nick “St. Nick” Gage as a possible love interest for Barbara and a flirtatious friend on the force for Batgirl. It’s hard to pick only one moment from their relationship, but I’m going to go with Batgirl’s save of Detective Gage in issue #13 in true Spidey-style with a clever quip (and a not all too unfamiliar pose).
One of the relationships that made Batgirl successful early was the mentor/student relationship between Barbara Gordon (DC’s first Batgirl) and Stephanie Brown (the current Batgirl). Although Barbara was initially against Stephanie taking the job the two soon became good friends. Issue #20 saw Barbara begin to pull away from Stephanie due to the tumultuous nature of her own life and an understanding that Stephanie had truly grown into the role and was ready to “kick some ass” all on her own.
I honestly can’t look at this panel from issue #17 and not laugh. To save a field trip of school children Damian goes undercover as Batgirl attempts to walk Robin through how to act like a normal kid and attempt to blend in. The two actually work fairly well together and the issue ends with another nice moment as Stephanie tries to get Damian to loosen up and have a little fun.
When Red Robin returns from his search for signs that Bruce Wayne may be still alive he finds Stephanie in the Batcave, dressed as Batgirl. His initial response is far from positive. Over a course of a two-part crossover Tim begins to see how much Stephanie has grown into the role. My favorite moment between the pair is Batgirl’s impressive takedown of Pru that leaves Tim speechless as he realizes Stephanie isn’t playing at being a hero, she has earned the title of Batgirl.
Issue #14 finds Supergirl showing up in Gotham to hang out with her gal pal and discover what college life is really all about. Kara and Stephanie’s night out gets hijacked by 24 Draculas who have sprung from the silver screen and are loose all over Gotham. There are several great moments here, but I think my favorite is the splash page showcasing the pair taking down several of the vampires, but taking the time to stop in-between for some goofy pictures and ice cream. In a world where gritty comics are the norm, it’s so wonderful to see a character enjoy her role as a hero and find joy in the small moments where she can.
In issue #5 Batgirl met Robin, and things were never the same. I’m going to cheat a little and put two separate moments here. The first is Stephanie and Damian’s first real conversation as Damian thaws out after Batgirl freezes him to save him from the fire-based attack of Diesel. The second, and even funnier, moment takes place later in the issue as Damian stops by the campus to talk with Stephanie and attempt to figure her out (and offer a few insulting comments). The conversation doesn’t well and Miss Brown stalks out in the kind of rage that reminds me of classic Peanuts and Calvin & Hobbes cartoons. Perfect, just perfect.
Bruce Wayne: The Road Home was a series of one-shots that each focused on one member of the Bat-Family. Batgirl’s had several great moments including Batman comparing Stephanie Brown to Dick Grayson, seeing Alfred stick up for Batgirl, Stephanie defending her right to be Batgirl, and a great final page from Bruce Wayne’s journal further legitimizing Stephanie Brown’s tenure at Batgirl in Batman’s eyes (no small accomplishment). My favorite moment from the issue, however, is the most unexpected. After correctly identifying that The Insider is only testing her, Batgirl discovers that it’s the recently resurrected Bruce Wayne under the mask… who she promptly slaps right in the face (and then runs away in horror)!
Issue #15 starts out with a tremendously entertaining series of panels in which Stephanie Brown attempts to summarize the history of Batman and the entire Bat-Family for Wendy with a series of cute cartoons which are almost as adorable as the comic’s protagonist. Aside from being terrifically funny, and a great example how Stephanie’s mind works, it’s an interesting look at the Bat-Family from a point of view just outside the core of the group. Very, very cool.
One thing I always wanted for Stephanie Brown was to be part of a team, but when no team came calling she put together one of her own. Issue #23 gives us Stephanie taking on the Reapers for the final time by calling in her pals: Stargirl, Supergirl, Miss Martian and Bombshell. And you know what? It was so much better than Steph simply joining an existing group like the Teen Titans or Birds of Prey. The team works so well as a group I couldn’t figure out why no one had put them together before. Where’s this comic, DC?! And why isn’t it part of the DC Reboot? Once again Miller gave me everything I wanted for the character, and more.
You always want to go out on top, and although I’m sad to sad to see Stephanie Brown disappear from the comic shop I’ve got to give it to Bryan Q. Miller huge props for letting her go out in style with a tearful, but hopeful, goodbye that celebrates rather than laments the end of the best chapter in this character’s checkered history. The comic began with Steph and Barbara coming together and it’s fitting that it ends with Team Batgirl closes the comic together with Steph shedding a tear before swinging off into the sunrise. It’s only the end if you want to be, and I’ve got to admit, despite the great ending, I’m far from ready to say goodbye to Stephanie Brown.