By day, Stephanie Brown is an ordinary college student at Gotham University, but by night she is Batgirl, Gotham’s latest crime fighter. After a few years of battling criminals in different guises, she’s hitting her stride and even got a thumbs up from the Jim Gordon, the Police Commissioner. When her friend, Oracle, is targeted by an old enemy bearing a grudge, Stephanie flies in to battle against hordes of techno-zombies. It’s just another day in Gotham for the new Batgirl.
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The character of Stephanie Brown has been around since 1992 where she originally appeared as Spoiler, a masked crime fighter who partnered up with Tim Drake, who was Robin at the time. Since then, Stephanie has featured in the Batman universe in one form or another, but this is the first time she has had her own ongoing series. The comic book is written by Bryan Q. Miller, someone who is no stranger to DC comic book characters, as he has worked as a writer on the TV show Smallville for a number of years.
After being pulled in many different directions and being caught up in larger events taking place in the DC comics universe, the ongoing Batgirl comic is a chance to tell Stephanie Brown-focused stories. Other characters cameo in the series, so she is not cut off from the rest of the DC Universe, but this title allows Miller to spend more time focusing on all aspects of the main character’s life.
One of the things I like most about this series is that despite all of the superpowers, crime fighting, grizzly crimes and skin tight costumes, Stephanie is still an ordinary girl with ordinary problems. She struggles to stay awake in class, has difficulty talking to boys her own age and has a fairly common relationship with her mother (in that she keeps secrets from her). To be fair, Stephanie’s secrets are bigger than most, as there are not many girls her age who spend their nights apprehending suicidal train bombers and exchanging wise-cracks with cute police detectives. But apart from that, she’s fairly normal.
Miller does an excellent job of balancing the two different sides of Stephanie’s life, and unlike another superhero we could mention (the one who wears a Bat on his chest), she is the same person with or without the cowl. There is no change in her voice or demeanor, but that isn’t to say she doesn’t take what she does very seriously. She has received martial arts training and has years of experience, but she has no superpowers, which means can and does get hurt.
Batgirl: The Flood is mostly focused on a villain called Calculator who wants to get revenge on Barbara Gordon, aka Oracle. Barbara is a technology wizard who remotely helps Stephanie and many other crime fighters while they are out on missions. Calculator blames Barbara for the death of his son and for his daughter turning against him, and he wants her to suffer like him. Unfortunately, Calculator is not just making empty threads and he is also very good with technology. He uses it to brainwash a number of civilians who inadvertently attack Barbara and all of her operations.
The second story starts off with a fairly typical night out for her and a friend Kara with a trip to the local cinema. Of course, nothing is completely what it appears to be as Kara is actually Supergirl, and instead of just enjoying a fun night out, trouble comes their way.
Even though the character of Stephanie Brown has been around for nearly twenty years, you don’t need to read up on her backstory to enjoy this series. A basic grounding or awareness of Batman villains would help, as the story is set in Gotham, but its not critical and a quick search online would sort that out. It’s not exactly a Gateway Comic, but it’s a nice back door into the Batman universe, and it’s a great comic if you want to read a coming of age story about a young crime fighter.
As was recently announced, DC Comics are rebooting and restarting all 52 of their ongoing monthly superhero titles. The good news is that there will be a new Batgirl comic starting in September with a new issue 1. The bad news is rumors indicate that Barbara Gordon will be Batgirl, and there is no news yet on what will happen to Stephanie Brown. I hope that the character lives on in another Bat title somewhere, even if she is not Batgirl anymore, and I look forward to reading many more of her adventures in the future.