By Kristine Chester, Guest Contributor to Fanboy Comics
Amidst all their new DC 52 coverage, Paul Montgomery and David Accampo of the Fuzzy Typewriter podcast spoke of the unsinkable Stephanie Brown and how much they enjoyed her tenure as Batgirl. At the time, I was gobbling up some of the older DC titles and gave Batgirl a try, based on Paul and Dave’s recommendation. Now I understand why they spoke so highly of the series. I thoroughly enjoyed every issue of Bryan Q. Miller’s Batgirl and now count it as one of my favorite comic series to date.
I still can’t believe Batgirl was one of Miller’s first comic book projects. He took an already well established character, Stephanie Brown, and rebuilt her identity, bringing readers along for the ride. Stephanie juggles her home life, her freshman year of college, and a career as a crime fighter, all after recently coming back from the dead. Stephanie, however, doesn’t do it alone. Though she operates independently for a time, Stephanie is soon taken under the wing of Barbara Gordon, aka Oracle, aka the original Batgirl.
Batgirl ultimately shines when its focused on the relationships between characters, especially those of “Team Batgirl,” namely Stephanie, Barbara Gordon, and Wendy “Proxy” Harris. The three main characters share a similar origin, all having been pretty optimistic heroes who had their identities torn apart by tragedy and were forced to build new ones. These similarities allow Team Batgirl to work well together, and watching Steph and Wendy become comfortable in their new roles is a highlight of the series.
While too frequent superhero team-ups can become tedious, Batgirl always manages to keep it entertaining. Most of Steph’s team-ups are with fellow teenage superheroines, with her team up with Supergirl in Issue #14 being particularly memorable. Stephanie is also paired with several members of the Bat family including Dick Grayson as Batman and Damian Wayne as Robin. When the more care-free Stephanie and serious Damian are forced to work together, it always makes for great humor. And, nothing is cuter than watching Stephanie try to get ten year-old Damian to act his age.
I can’t speak for the accuracy of Miller’s teen speech, but it has a Whedonesque quality with characters frequently making up words or being vague. “O, any luck with the thingamajig for the thingamajig?” for example, and it’s always amusing. The dialogue makes the characters, Stephanie in particular, feel young and adds to the lighthearted feel of the series.
What Batgirl isn’t is another Dark Knight-type title. There’s not a lot of focus on angst or heavy character drama, and the series has an episodic feel, where every few issues can be a jumping on point. It’s lighthearted style may not appeal to some, but, for me, it was a welcome break from reading darker titles and every issue always made me giggle.
While I’m also a fan of the DC relaunch, I mourn the loss of some of the titles that came before and Batgirl most of all. I gave it a chance based on someone else expressing their love for it, and I hope doing the same will create another Batgirl fan of someone else. As Steph herself said, “It’s only the end, if you want it to be.”