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Batgirl (Stephanie Brown) (DC Comics)

Batgirl

(Stephanie Brown) (Part 1)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

This profile is part of a chronological series about Stephanie Brown. We strongly suggest reading the previous material first, namely :

  1. Spoiler part #1.
  2. Spoiler part #2.
  3. Robin (to be written when I have enough courage and hard liquor).

This fourth profile covers the entire Batgirl vol. 3 run, excellently written by Bryan Miller. It also includes all of Steph’s contemporary appearances (October of 2009 to the Summer of 2011, at which point the book is daftly cancelled and yes I’m still miffed about that).

Since it was getting a bit long, it is presented in two parts. The second half has the characterisation discussion, the quotes and the stats. Good stuff.

For other versions of Batgirl, you can check our guide to Batgirls.

Here… we… go !


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Background

  • Real Name: Stephanie Brown.
  • Other Aliases: Fay Wray, Constance Aberthine, “Dork Knight”.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Arthur Brown (aka the Cluemaster, father, deceased), Agnes Crystal Bellinger-Brown (mother), unnamed child (adopted away).
  • Group Affiliation: Oracle’s Network.
  • Base Of Operations: Gotham City.
  • Height: 5’7” Weight: 115 lbs. Age: 19
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Blonde


Powers and Abilities

Brown is unusually talented when it comes to athletics, gymnastics, fitness, the martial arts and acrobatics. Even with little training she performed at an Olympic level. But her talent was minor compared to the likes of Tim Drake, Richard Grayson, Cassandra Cain, etc.

Stephanie was intensively trained by Batman (Bruce Wayne) for weeks, and received martial arts instruction from Cassandra Cain. Though other bat-family members still saw her skills with scepticism, this formed the base she used to continue training.

During the late 2000s, she resumed training and sparring with Cassandra. This is when she reached a markedly superior level of speed, athleticism and martial mastery. Stephanie is now a redoubtable fighter, performing at a high cinematic  level. She’s well able to vanquish most street-level threats.


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Tim Drake was startled to see how faster she had become since her Spoiler days. Stephanie was able to fight a delaying action against no less than the League of Assassins’s Seven Men of Death. Several of her unarmed techniques resemble Cassandra Cain’s.

Stephanie is now a proficient rooftop vigilante – clever, experienced and quick on her feet. She doesn’t have the fancier skills such as detection, computers, engineering, etc.. But she has the backup to handle those. She knows what she’s doing – and given her line of work, that’s saying a lot.

For instance she’s comfortable with weird and dangerous situations she knows nothing about, pragmatically making up solutions until she can understand what’s going on.

Batgirl (Stephanie Brown) posing with collapsible staff

Despite her ditzy image, she now has strong perceptive and deductive intelligence. She can devise excellent strategies based on briefly observing disparate clues. Such as how her opponent’s powers seem to work, or weak points in their tactics.

For a 115 lbs. person, Brown is remarkably tough. She has superior pain tolerance, and is very bad at dying. She has soundly beaten doses of drugs and hallucinogens that would have been fatal to persons twice her weight. She’s also genuinely determined, and has a very strong will to live and fighting spirit.

A utility belt full of crap, and a positive attitude

The Batgirl black-and-eggplant costume includes :

  • Light body armour (optimised not to hinder movements).
  • Some sort of shotgun microphone built in the cowl to listen to distant conversations.
  • An extensive radio uplink with video feed and life signs monitors.
  • A transparent rebreather (normally carried in her belt).
  • Special built-in lenses for various sorts of night vision.
  • A fully-stocked utility belt. Plus a garter belt to pack even more gear.

The exact protective properties of the costume are unclear. It could turn security lasers into just a jolt of sharp pain, but isn’t bulletproof. On the other hand these bullets presumably were armour-piercing rounds, as they were employed by the Seven Men Of Death. These were the only gunmen who manage to hit her during this era.

Batgirl (Stephanie Brown)'s utility belt

Much of Batgirl’s ample pouch space is occupied by batarangs with specialised payloads. Stephanie loves her batarangs, and gleefully uses them by the handful. Because batarangs are awesome.

Steph also uses a bat-line. It is the usual pistol-like device shooting a grapnel and decel  line. There is a setting for the grapnel to just grab something it hits – perhaps helped with the release of soluble adhesive. This allows Batgirl to grab objects at a distance and yank them toward her.

This line is occasionally used to entangle opponents. But it doesn’t work that well and Stephanie only uses this tactic against mooks.

Stick

Her main melee weapon is a collapsible baton/staff. This weapon looks like a typical tactical/collapsible metallic baton, but can extend to quarterstaff length when needed. It can collapse all the way to a length of about 15cm. Stephanie has a garter holster so she can hide it under a skirt or dress.

This weapon hits harder than it should. It was seen smashing solid metal on several occasions. What is happening there is unclear, but the Unfettered Fist Schtick (DCH) or Power Attack (DCA) in our game stats allows Stephanie to hit as if she were superhumanly strong. This models what was witnessed.

Wheels

Batgirl occasionally uses a high-speed vehicle caled the Ricochet. It’s a cylinder with a huge engine and three motorcycle wheels. It lies close to the ground and is piloted prone. Barbara Gordon built it as an escape vehicle, so she could drop into the Ricochet from her wheelchair and get away real fast.

The Ricochet can presumably reach speeds in excess of 300 km/h. And it feels even faster since the driver is but inches above ground level. It has an emergency brake mode, with the two front wheels pivoting sideway and slamming against the ground.

The Ricochet has an autopilot mode, presumably using GPS coordinates and preset points. There’s also a light foldable wheelchair stored in the back.

Batgirl (Stephanie Brown) driving her Ricochet vehicle

In the final issues of this Batgirl run, Steph also drives the Compact. It is an armoured, armed high-performance car, characteristics unknown. The Compact normally looks like a compact car with numerous options (including a high-end GPS) and superior racing performance.

The Compact can be switched to combat mode. It then becomes a visibly armoured vehicle and sports a turret, with what might be twin machineguns. In combat mode the Compact completely ignored small arms gunfire.

Concussive smokarangs ! Flaming icerangs ! Electro-magna-gooperangs ! Tah-daaah !

Batman, Incorporated provided Steph with a computerised industrial press to fabricate batarangs. Batgirl can thus replace her expanded batarangs on her own.

Batgirl (Stephanie Brown)'s car, the Compact

These are more or less the same models as before, but only the warheads are colour-coded. The “wings” of the bat are always grey. A pair of warheads forms the “body” of the bat. Green is goop, yellow is lightning, blue is ice, and there are incendiary warheads coloured in red.

Another new feature was magnetised batarangs. Those have “wings” that adhere to metallic surfaces when slapped against them.

It would seem that the press allows for timed warheads – detonating x seconds after impact. But these timers presumably have to be set when the batarang is being machined.

It is possible to create batarangs with two mismatched warheads. But this is not usually a good idea unless Stephanie has a specific strategy in mind. The aforementioned electro-magna-gooperangs were actually used once, and it worked since they were hand-applied in large quantities.


History

Late 2009 meant a number of changes for Stephanie Brown.

  • She resumed her studies, enrolling as a first year freshman at Gotham U.
  • She was reunited with her mother. Mrs. Brown had been transferred to a new hospital and now worked hours that allowed her to regularly see her daughter.
  • She found herself with a black super-hero costume on her hands.

Though she had promised Tim Drake that she wouldn’t be Spoiler again, Stephanie had teamed up for months with her friend Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) during her nightly patrols.

While she felt terrible about breaking her promise, associating with the nigh-invincible Cass made Stephanie safer in the long run. It significantly developed her ability to deal with problems.

Batgirl (Stephanie Brown) in mid-air

Shortly after Bruce Wayne’s apparent death at Darkseid’s hand, Batgirl abruptly gave up her role and vanished. She left her costume in Spoiler’s hands, implicitly making her her successor.

Cain was secretly executing on a complex contingency plan to be launched after Batman’s death. Cassandra had a number of covert missions to accomplish, during which she wouldn’t need to be Batgirl.

Steph felt that she *had* to step in as the new Batgirl. Observing her in action, the new Batman (Richard Grayson) and Robin (Damian Wayne) immediately realised that she couldn’t be Cassandra Cain. They handed the matter over to Oracle (Barbara Gordon).

Gordon quickly determined what was going on and came to confront Brown in her home.

Batgirl & Batgirl

Gordon intended to have Brown renounce vigilantism. That didn’t work at all.

Stephanie refused to stop investigating a drugs ring set up by the Scarecrow, since lives were in immediate danger. Barbara could monitor Stephanie through the tech installed in Cassandra’s costume. Brown’s stubbornness forced Gordon’s hand.

Oracle started providing support and advice so “Batgirl” wouldn’t get killed in the field. Gordon’s plan was to yell at Brown harder once the Scarecrow case would be closed.

Batgirl (Stephanie Brown) using a swingline

However, as she monitored the fight against the Scarecrow, Barbara came to realise how serious, committed and determined Stephanie was. Brown had grown up a lot as a person, as a fighter and as an adventuress. Gordon — who had been the original Batgirl — realised that she was proud to call Brown “Batgirl” after a slip of the tongue.

Oracle decided to throw her support behind Stephanie. She patterned her offer after how Batman (Bruce Wayne) had once helped Robin (Richard Grayson). As a symbol of this support, she assembled a brand-new Batgirl costume for Stephanie. It mixed the visuals of the Spoiler costume and of Barbara’s old Batgirl costume.

Beyond the armoured costume, she also prepared weapons. Then she took a TA position at Gotham U. to make it easier for them to coordinate.

The early relationships with the rest of the bat-family were rocky. But Barbara and Stephanie soon mended fences with Dick Grayson. Even Damian Wayne came to grudgingly accept Batgirl’s role. Though difficulties remained due to his immense smugness, and immaturity.

Stephanie also managed to restore her friendship with Red Robin (Tim Drake). Perhaps too well, since mutual attraction made its return. Worse, Stephanie couldn’t help but feel jealous of the young woman supposedly engaged to Drake as part of her cover.

What’s black and eggplant and blonde ?

As she tried to cope with life as a freshman, Stephanie also found herself entangled in Oracle’s difficulties.

Gordon had taken another young woman — Wendy Harris — under her wing. This provoked the wrath of the Calculator, Harris’s father. Considering that Gordon had stolen his daughter from him, the Calculator went to insane lengths to locate and kidnap Wendy. That included turning thousands of Gothamites into techno-zombies, using Apokolipsian nanites derived from a Justifier helmet.

Harris and Brown managed an impromptu team-up. Batgirl saved Gotham, rescued Oracle and earned the friendship of Wendy.

Batgirl (Stephanie Brown) by Dustin N'Guyen

Under the code-name “Proxy”, Harris became Oracle’s apprentice. She provided support for Batgirl on certain missions. Batgirl also started developing a working relationship with certain GCPD officers. Her #1 contact was the handsome Detective Gage, on whom she developed a crush.

Stephanie’s career as a student was less spectacular. She was a straight-B freshman. And she couldn’t decide on a major since she felt the only job she was doing well was being Batgirl.

After Oracle had to fake her death, Stephanie was among the few who knew the truth. However, Gordon no longer could provide enough help. Though she was struggling with psychological issues, Proxy agreed to step in. She became Batgirl’s support.

Return of Bruce Wayne

By that point Bruce Wayne had returned. While widely believed dead, he had actually been cast through time and weaponised. Yet he managed to come back without destroying the world.

For a while he discreetly observed what had gone on in his absence. He saw that Cassandra handing over the Batgirl role to Stephanie had worked well beyond his expectations.

Batgirl (Stephanie Brown) posing with swirling cape

While Oracle’s network of operatives had to go dark with her “death”, the returned Wayne created a new one. Batman, Incorporated was a company founded by the Wayne Corporation. It brought heavy backing to a number of Batman allies.

At this point Proxy and Batgirl were operating from Firewall, a secret base under Barbara Gordon’s old home. Batman, Inc. had it upgraded into an equivalent of the Batcave. That included better weapons for Batgirl.

Stephanie also learned that Cassandra had been operating covertly in Hong Kong for months. Bruce Wayne had Cass resume operating in costume — as Blackbat — after Batman, Inc. was launched.

London calling

However, changes were in store for many Batman, Inc. assets. Wendy Harris left for Nanda Parbat to attempt to heal her psyche. At the same time, Bruce Wayne requested that Stephanie Brown enrol in an English finishing school.

Brown grudgingly agreed to leave for London for a first trip. There, she responded to a crisis along with Squire (Beryl Hutchinson), another young Batman, Inc. operative.

Batgirl (Stephanie Brown) lands in an alley

Returning to the US for a while, Batgirl put an end to a murderous conspiracy based in Gotham University, the Reapers. To close that case she assembled a league of young superheroines – Supergirl, Miss Martian, Stargirl and Bombshell.

This victory led her to the discovery that she was being stalked by her father. The Cluemaster was the patron of the Reapers. And he had become addicted to the Black Mercy alien plants’s hallucinogenic properties.

We have both kinds, reboots and softboots

Despite being exposed to Black Mercy spores, Stephanie once again spoiled her father’s plan with a well-placed batarang. Her friends got her to the hospital to detox her. But Batgirl had beaten the hideously addictive spores through sheer stubbornness, without needing a transfusion.

During her hospital stay Agnes Brown discovered that her daughter was Batgirl. But she came to terms with this while Steph was still in intensive care.

At this point the DC Universe was rebooted — again — and Steph taken away from us. Bastiches !


Continued in part #2 !

The second half of this entry has a big discussion of her characterisation, a bunch of quotes, and full stats for both DCH and DCA. Oh boy oh boy !


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By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Batgirl volume 3 (2009-2011) and contemporary appearances (DC Universe).

Helper(s): Batgirl fans on rpg.net’s Tangency Other Media, Darci, Salinea, Frank Murdock, Pawsplay, Murkglow.

Writeup completed in August of 2011.

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We chat and work at the DC Heroes Yahoo! group .