So, in addition to not buying anything related to Future’s End, with the exception of the Batgirl issue, I’ve also not been buying Batman Eternal. However, in this case, it’s less of a disinterest with the story and more of a simple matter of IT’S A YEAR-LONG WEEKLY COMIC! What, am I made of money? lol However, at this time, I currently have two issues of Batman Eternal in my possession: #3, which was the New 52 debut of Stephanie Brown (not counting Batman #28), and this week’s issue. Why this week? Because the primary focus of the plot is on Steph and her activities now that she has become Spoiler. So, with that said, let’s take a look at what happens, and…well, for the lack of a better term, spoilers ahead. 😛
So Stephanie is spying on her dad, the Cluemaster, as he’s explaining to someone in the dark how a group of C and D-List villains are using their own unique talents to upset the natural order of Gotham in a slow, methodical fashion, so that when the time is right, Gotham’s citizens will be ready to riot. Since most people following this story already know the man’s involvement thus far, I’ll just go ahead and say it: It’s Hush. Hush is pleased at how the plan’s progressing for now, but tells Cluemaster that he needs to kill Stephanie before she can get in touch with Batman and spoil everything that’s going on, and wow, they’re just going all out with the Spoiler theme, huh? lol
Anyway, cut to Batman dealing with a situation at the Gotham Gallery of Modern Art, where Simon Ecks, AKA Doctor X, is causing trouble, and Batman has to put him down with an Nth Metal Batarang. I have no idea WHY he was carrying a Batarang made out of Nth Metal, since the gadgets in his belt are generally rotated based on situations, so I don’t know what made him think he’d need it, but whatever. He also finally realizes that the situation Batwing was looking into at Arkham Asylum may not be going as swimmingly as he was led to believe, and has Penny-Two look into Ecks…Oh yeah, for those that haven’t been following along, Alfred’s daughter Julia was found fighting Fang in Hong Kong, and after a recent incident where Alfred got injected with fear toxin by Hush, Julia found her way down to the Batcave, and she’s been helping Batman in place of him, meaning she’s the one we saw working down there in Batman #28.
Back to Stephanie, who gets attacked by her dad, who knew she’d come looking for him eventually. He’s not quite ready to murder her yet, instead trying to get her to join him, but after a struggle where she tears off on a motorcycle, he gets his incentive. Anyway, after a chase on the highway, during which she was making a phone call, she escapes him, leaving him to be caught by the cops. However, whereas he’d be able to get free if this was the GCPD (Jason Bard in this continuity turned out to be working for Hush…huzzah…), Steph had led him past the city limits, and now he’s dealing with the state police. The only thing missing here is the Price Is Right fail sound, which I will supply right now…
So, this issue was pretty good. If I have any complaint to it, it’s that this rebooted Stephanie Brown seems to be a bit too good for someone who just put on the mask and is fighting crime with no previous training. I mean, it’s POSSIBLE she’s acquired these skills she’s using prior, but we haven’t really seen any indication of this. She beats her dad all too easily, although I doubt we’ve seen the last of him, and he’s just a small part of a much bigger problem. Also, I don’t know if I’m forgetting something, since I’m mostly just reading about stuff that happens in the series as opposed to picking it up at the shop, but it feels like the situation with Batman at the art gallery fighting Doctor X comes right the frak outta nowhere. Last I checked, he was dealing with the Architect, a villain from Batman Gates of Gotham, who had triggered a small earthquake that leveled several buildings, though not quite as bad as the one from No Man’s Land, and dear God, I feel like I’m gonna set off the Continuity Alarm any second now.
But yeah, other than those problems, this was still an enjoyable read, and hell, I can’t complain too much about a book that focuses on my favourite superheroine BEING my favourite superheroine. So, not winning any awards or anything, but still a good issue nonetheless.
Okay, I apologise if I sound like a conspiracy nut throughout this, but for the past year I’ve been trying to find answers as to why Stephanie Brown isn’t around anymore in DC Comics, and really, all I end up finding are more questions. I’d ask Renee Montoya to solve this for me, but she’s not really around anymore either. Nor is Cassandra Cain, Wally West, and a bunch of other characters in DC’s line-up prior to the relaunch.
For those who don’t know the character, here’s a short synopsis of her history. Originally a vigilante called the Spoiler, Stephanie Brown is the daughter of criminal mastermind the Cluemaster. She quickly allied herself with Tim Drake, whom she had an on again off again relationship with, and temporarily replaced him as Robin when he was forced into temporary retirement, only to be fired by Batman for disobeying orders on two occasions (I don’t see him firing Damian for disobeying orders and killing people, but let’s not open that bag of feral cats). After an incident where she was believed to have been killed, she returned to Gotham originally as Spoiler, but following Cassandra retiring as Batgirl due to disillusionment, Stephanie took up the role. She earned the trust and respect of the original Batgirl, Barbara Gordon, and often-times worked closely with Tim Drake, now Red Robin, and the new Batman and Robin (Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne). Apparently following Barbara’s surgery that granted her the ability to walk again, Stephanie returned the role of Batgirl to her and resumed work as Spoiler, but I only know that because of a tell-all book written on Batman and his allies that was released recently. Otherwise, she has not appeared once since the reboot.
Now admittedly, the current Batgirl title written by Gail Simone is AWESOME, and is worth your time and money. Personally, I prefer her in her role as Oracle, but if DC was gonna put her back in the role of Batgirl, I’m glad Simone is handling that. In fact, I’ve tweeted back and forth with her a number of times, once in particular about Stephanie Brown and if she would consider maybe bringing her back, not necessarily as Batgirl but possibly as Spoiler working as a partner of sorts with Barbara since their duo worked so well. However, she claimed that the character “wasn’t available”, and that she didn’t know anything more on the subject.
That struck as a bit odd. Gail Simone is the writer, right? Aside from making sure her stories stay in continuity with the others, why should DC Editorial care at all if she wants to involve Stephanie Brown in those stories ONLY? And why wouldn’t Simone know anything regarding why the character isn’t available?
Well, some other odd things happened recently too, like the change to the Smallville comics (seriously, Smallville has it’s own comic series, and no, I don’t know why) wherein originally Batman would appear for a storyline that would see him accompanied by a female Nightwing that would turn out to be Stephanie Brown. This was later blocked by DC Editorial and Nightwing was changed to Barbara Gordon. Another odd bit was changes to the new Teen Titans books so that there were no previous incarnations of the group prior to the relaunch and that Tim Drake was apparently ALWAYS Red Robin. And when I say changes, I mean literally that the new comics originally stated that Tim Drake WAS Robin and that there WERE previous incarnations of the group, both of which seem to be backed up by other comics in the DCnU, and yet in the collected graphic novel/trade paperback/whatever you wanna call it, the dialogue boxes were changed to deny these previous facts.
- This Just In: New Development for Tim Drake [Spoiler] (comicvine.com)
The most recent thing that happened that I took note of as odd was the pulling of the DC Nation block on Cartoon Network. Now I’m not really a fan of Young Justice, but I couldn’t help but notice something very interesting about a character that appeared in the episode set to air until it and the block were pulled until January. Fortunately, the episode was released on iTunes, revealing THIS.
And that’s when it finally hit me: There’s some sort of communications issue between DC Editorial and their writers. The reason for the changes to Tim Drake and the Titans is either because DC Editorial didn’t make it clear from the get-go that they wanted those changes instituted from the beginning or because they made the decision much later. So where does Stephanie Brown fit into this? Well, based on what I’ve seen, what I’ve read, and from the newest incident regarding Young Justice, it’s pretty clear that DC Editorial has blacklisted Stephanie Brown and won’t just frigging say it or explain why.
Now, there’s been a number of rumours backing that up, but because these are just rumours, take them with a grain of salt. The rumours suggest that Dan Didio, the man behind the relaunch in the first place, is a HUGE fan of the original characters that took on various superhero aliases and hates their later replacements, which seem to suggest why in the DCnU, Barry Allen is the only Flash and Wally West either never existed or was never either Flash or Kid Flash, the main Green Lantern comic focused primarily on Hal Jordan and Sinestro while the other Earth-born Green Lanterns were instead demoted to side stories Green Lantern Corps and New Guardians, Dick Grayson gave up being Batman and returned to being Nightwing, and oh yes, Barbara Gordon became Batgirl again and her history as Oracle MAY have been retconned (still looking into that), and Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain are nowhere to be found (although Cassandra was last seen operating out of Hong Kong, so I suppose she could still be there and we just haven’t seen her). Now of course, I could bring up how there were characters that took up the identities of Flash and Green Lantern BEFORE Barry and Hal, but I wouldn’t wanna chance it and have THEM demoted as well.
So what does that mean for Stephanie Brown? Well, it means that unless you’re watching the fan series Batgirl: Spoiled, which I admittedly am not all that impressed by yet but if you like it feel free to follow it, don’t expect to be seeing Miss Brown any time soon, possibly ever. This seems especially telling given some other stuff that’s come up as of late, but I’ll get into that some other time. Ja né!
- Stephanie Brown fights crime, boredom in Batgirl: Spoiled premiere (robot6.comicbookresources.com)