Stephanie Brown is not a superhero. Not anymore.
Superheroes, in Stephanie’s considerable experience, are more concerned about the next fight with the next costumed madman than they are about people they supposedly protect. It’s a lesson that was driven home to Stephanie following the loss of the love of her life, Tim Drake, and a battle with the group known as The Victim Syndicate – superheroes only encourage supervillains. They don’t save lives. They don’t help anyone. They exist only to deliver beat-downs and make the public feel better about the insanity around them.
Stephanie Brown isn’t a superhero. She isn’t a supervillain either. She’s not sure exactly what she is anymore but she does wear a costume and go by a code name.
As The Spoiler, Stephanie has made it her mission to mask the presence of superheroes in Gotham City. Most nights that just consists of her sabotaging The Bat-Signal. Some nights, like tonight, are more difficult.
Tonight, Stephanie must beat Batman and his allies at their own game, taking down a villain called Wrath who seeks a public battle with Gotham’s Dark Knight to make his name as a power in the underworld. She must do this without being seen by the public, the police or Batman himself!
Detective Comics #957 sets The Spoiler firmly in the center ring and she proves more than capable of holding the star spot. Since DC Rebirth began, James Tynion IV has had a firm grip on Stephanie’s character and the story here – co-written with Injustice: Ground Zero author Christopher Sebela – continues her tale splendidly.
Stephanie’s arguments regarding vigilantism being more concerned with punishment than preservation will seem familiar to long-time Bat-fans (The Batman: The Animated Series episode Trial is perhaps the most famous example) but the execution makes it seem new again. The most fascinating aspect of the script is that while it is clear that Stephanie is acting out of blind anger, she is still written as a cunning and brilliant tactician who has a point about Batman’s war on crime having unintended casualties.
Unfortunately, the artwork doesn’t quite measure up to the script. With three inkers at work on Carmen Carnero’s pencils, there isn’t a consistent look as the story progresses. Some of the fine details – particularly in the scene where Wrath takes control of a news studio – are lost thanks to over-shading. This even seems to somehow alter Javier Mena’s colors.
Thankfully, these issues don’t drag this comic down completely. If one can work past the erratic inks, there is a great story at the heart of Detective Comics #957. This issue is a must-read for all those who have missed Stephanie Brown, be it as The Spoiler, Robin or Batgirl.