A ‘Batman’ #28 Spoiler
On sale now in comics shops and digitally, Batman #28 concludes with the first appearance of the fan-favorite character Stephanie Brown -- aka the Spoiler, aka Robin IV, aka Batgirl III -- since DC Comics relaunched and in many cases rebooted its entire superhero line in 2011.
Created by Chuck Dixon and Tom Lyle, 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 redeemed the character for older fans and endeared her to a younger generation. To the dismay of those readers, that series was cancelled to make way for the New 52′s restoration of the original Batgirl, Barbara Gordon. Subsequent storylines made it clear that Stephanie's time in the cowl never occurred, although she did have a role to play in 2011's Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes, which weirdly straddles both the pre- and post-52 DC Universe.
That Stephanie had been seemingly shelved indefinitely -- by what is widely believed to be an order from the highest levels of DC -- was a source of profound consternation for many Batfans for the last few years. Stephanie was not just a cool character, but as served an important function in representing women in the predominantly male superhero scene. Notably, Stephanie's visages as Spoiler, Robin and Batgirl have lived on in the form of excellent cosplays at conventions and other events, where of course DC staffers have been questioned ceaselessly about when the character might return.
Their questions have been answered in Batman #28, which makes it plain that Stephanie -- now back to her original Spoiler identity -- will have a major part to play in the upcoming Batman Eternal storyline; an apparently dystopian future-style story overseen by Scott Snyder in collaboration with numerous writers and artists.
What may not please Spoiler fans, though, is that Batman and Catwoman seem to have no previous familiarity with her. Has the Spoiler been rebooted? Longtime readers have had to accept the New 52 premise that decades of Batman's canonical history occurred within just five years, including that of most of his sidekicks and other associates, although it does become more confusing with every passing month.
As previously mentioned, with some key exceptions the history of Stephanie Brown isn't particularly great. Perhaps a reboot is in order after all. It would be a good thing for Spoiler comics to finally meet the quality of affection for her that fans have loyally expressed for years.