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The ‘Last Hurrah’ of Stephanie Brown’s Batgirl in ‘Leviathan Strikes!’ [Preview]

On sale this week from DC Comics is Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes!, a special one-shot that serves as the much anticipated and much delayed conclusion to the first cycle of Grant Morrison’s popular and acclaimed Batman Incorporated series. Drawn by Cameron Stewart and Chris Burnham with color by Nathan Fairbairn, the one-shot was to be additionally notable for including the first appearance of the Stephanie Brown character in DC’s New 52 universe, operating as the vigilante Spoiler. But a statement from Morrison confirms that Leviathan Strikes! will indeed take place in a previous continuity, and depict Brown in her Batgirl identity one final time.

Prior to DC Comics’ New 52 initiative – whereby the entire superhero publishing line was relaunched and in some cases rebooted – Stephanie Brown appeared as Batgirl on a memorable Batman Incorporated cover by Chris Burnham, fighting alongside Batman in a battle with private school girls. DC’s publishing plans included restoring the Barbara Gordon character as Batgirl and Brown to her previous vigilante guise, The Spoiler. Batman Incorporated was put on hiatus and its final two issues, including the school girl story, were reformatted into this week’s Leviathan Strikes! one-shot, which was previously solicited to retailers with a description that indicated Brown would appear as The Spoiler so as to fit in with the DC line’s new status quo.

However, Morrison’s latest statement about the project, published Monday on DC’s The Source blog, confirms that is no longer the case.

“Quite simply one of the most beautifully drawn comic books of the year,” said Morrison. “Cameron Stewart, Chris Burnham, and color artist Nathan Fairbairn pull out all the stops for the long-awaited season finale of BATMAN, INCORPORATED with Batman and his allies trapped in a cold war brainwashing facility for the ultimate mind-bending battle against Leviathan and the diabolical Otto Netz, Masterspy. See the last hurrah of Stephanie Brown as Batgirl, in a sinister school for suicide spy girls! Find out what caused the Batman and Robin team to split! And witness the unmasking of Leviathan in a shocking final page twist that sets up 2012’s BATMAN: LEVIATHAN, the epic concluding act of a Batman story six years in the making! With guest appearances by Batwing, Red Robin, the Hood, the Outsiders and more!”

Artist Chris Burnham confirmed the switcheroo, writing on the Comic Book Resources message board, “There was a week in the middle of production when we thought we were going to massage the story into the new 52 continuity. Saner heads prevailed!”

“It’s a long story,” wrote Cameron Stewart on Twitter. The artist said Stephanie was drawn as the Spoiler in the layout stage but was later reverted to Batgirl, necessitating some “re-drawing.”

Stephanie Brown first appeared in the Batman comics in the early 1990s and operated as the highly dubious “teen issues” character The Spoiler for many years before a disastrous and infrequently acknowledged turn as Robin that concluded with her controversial death. Naturally, Stephanie was resurrected some time later and eventually became Batgirl in a much acclaimed series written by Bryan Q. Miller that endeared the character to a new generation. To the dismay of many fans, that series was cancelled to make way for The New 52’s Batgirl starring Barbara Gordon, so that Brown’s Batgirl will be back in what’s sure to be the best drawn Batman comic book in recent memory is excellent news indeed.

Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes! goes on sale this week in finer comics shops and digitally via DC Digital.

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