Warning: SPOILERS for Batgirls #18After decades of tension between the two, Batman has finally fully embraced the Robin he once rejected: Stephanie Brown. Though Steph has moved past the Robin mantle, seeing Batman acknowledge her work and growth is a treat for Steph and her fans alike.
Batman and the Batgirls, including Batgirl Stephanie Brown, briefly work together in Batgirls #18 by Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad, Robbi Rodriguez, Rico Renzi, and Becca Carey. Batman has a lead for the case all three of the Batgirls are working on together, and Bruce agrees to meet Steph and Cassandra Cain to exchange information. When Steph begins to doubt herself, Batman immediately intervenes.
Not only does he call both Batgirls “forces to be reckoned with,” he also essentially tells Steph that he’s happy to be helping her. “You’ve come a long way, and I’m proud of you,” he tells her. He reiterates this sentiment to himself even after both Steph and Cass are well on their way, out of hearing range.
Stephanie Brown’s Contentious Robin Era Has Come Full Circle
This sweet moment between Batman and Batgirl means all the more for those who know Stephanie Brown’s short but violent time as Robin. Though Steph has been known as both Spoiler and Batgirl for most of her history at DC Comics, she briefly replaced her ex-boyfriend Tim Drake as Robin in the mid-2000s. Though Stephanie worked closely with Batman during her time as Robin, he never seemed to fully accept her—a holdover pattern from her unsanctioned years as the vigilante Spoiler. Eventually, Batman benched Stephanie’s Robin. The tension between Batman and this short-lived Robin eventually spiraled into the infamous War Games storyline, which ended in Stephanie’s brutal “death.” Though Steph returned to Gotham a few years later, the tension between herself and Batman has never been fully resolved—until now.
Batman’s history with Stephanie in particular makes this Batgirls moment a really touching resolution of their shared history, even if that subtext is rarely acknowledged in contemporary Gotham comics. Batman is not often known to be forthcoming with his compliments, so seeing him tell Stephanie that she’s “come along away” and he’s proud is a treat for long-time Stephanie fans (and surely Steph herself). Though this Batgirl has never once needed Batman’s permission to be herself or a vigilante, it surely doesn’t hurt to get the big man’s approval, especially all these years after her original run as Robin, as notorious as it now is.
Though fans will be sad to see this series go, it makes perfect sense to see this touching Batman and (former) Robin moment in the penultimate issue of Batgirls. It brings Stephanie’s character not only full circle, but one step further. She doesn’t need to live in the shadow of Batman’s approval anymore. What will Stephanie Brown do next? Hopefully fans won’t have to wait that long to find out.
Check out Batgirls #18, available now from DC Comics!