(Stephanie Brown) (2008/2009 span)
This profile is part of a series covering Stephanie Brown’s story.
So you should first check our Batgirl orientation page. To see which entries exist, and their order.
The era we’ll cover here is a thin slice – 2008/2009. It goes from Stephanie’s return from her fridging to her becoming Batgirl.
- Real Name: Stephanie Brown.
- Former Aliases: Robin, Katabi/Katavi.
- Known Relatives: Arthur Brown (aka the Cluemaster, father, deceased), Agnes Crystal Bellinger-Brown (mother), David Bellinger (uncle), child (name and gender unrevealed).
- Group Affiliation: Occasional operative for Batman (Bruce Wayne) and partner of Robin (Tim Drake). Oracle and Batgirl’s 2009 Network.
- Base of Operations: Gotham City area.
- Height: 5’5” (1.65m). Weight: 114 lbs. (52 Kg.).
- Eyes: Blue-green. Hair: Blonde.
Powers & Abilities
There’s no clear data to assess whether Ms. Brown’s skills have atrophied. She seems to remain in the same weight class as when she was Robin, with less emphasis on her strength and more on her stealth.
In DC Heroes TTRPG terms, keeping her scores mostly intact but lowering her Hero PointsDC Heroes RPG concept expressing narrative importance/immunity. works.
Stephanie learned some Swahili. Though she joked that she only knew the name of some animals, she actually could speak in short sentences with a good pronunciation.
It’s not impossible that she also learned the basics in other Bantu languages. Primarily Hangaza.
During this era, Steph is seen using :
- A swingline.
- At least one batarang that can also function as a grapnel.
- A shotgun microphone + headset. Presumably it also records.
- A motorbike. It has generic sport bike lines (something like a Kawasaki Ninja), but the exhaust is above the wheel (like, say, a Kawasaki KLX). So perhaps it’s a custom-built bike meant for urban speed and stunt riding. It comes with a purple integral helmet, obvs.
- Smoke pellets, which might have included some tear gas.
- High end surveillance binoculars with night vision capabilities.
Invisible in purple
For a time, Spoiler used stolen Intergang tech that allowed her to become invisible. Presumably, it was unrepairable ApokolipsA Fascistic alien world dominated by major DC Comics baddie Darkseid. tech and eventually ran out of juice.
The effect was strong enough to defeat Oracle (Barbara Gordon)’s security.
I have this vague sense that, back then, the idea was to redefine her niche as stealth, intrusion and surveillance.
If so, that fell into the “roads not taken” bucket. But it might be something you’d use in your own stories.
Something to evoke 2008… The Ting Tings’ “That’s Not My Name” readily comes to mind.
Perhaps because it’s been a recurrent earworm of mine for 15+ years now.
History (part 1)
Ms. Brown’s apparent death had aftershocks :
- Stephanie’s parents led a media campaign to denounce Batman’s role in the death of several Robins.
- Which means that Steph’s identities as both Spoiler and Robin were publicised.
- Mrs. Brown further accused Dr. Thompkins of having denied life-saving care to her dying daughter. The information came from other nurses, who worked at Thompkins’ clinic.
- Bruce Wayne confronted Dr. Thompkins. She explained that it was true. And that it had been a bizarre attempt at shaming Bruce over his use of violence and endangering children.
- Mr. Wayne therefore forced his mother figure to permanently leave the US and renounce practising medicine.
In actuality, Stephanie narrowly survived.
Seeing how shocked and guilty Steph was, Leslie fell on her sword to protect her. She substituted the corpse of a similar-looking girl who had just od’d, then faked Ms. Brown’s death.
Dr. Thompkins then left the US to join humanitarian operations abroad. She not only lied to Bruce, but also took Stephanie with her as an aide, to monitor her recovery.
On his end, Wayne came to realise that it was all mighty suspicious and that the corpse likely wasn’t Stephanie’s.
Nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
Steph spent about 3½ years with Leslie. Or one year in sliding time .
The pair worked “in Africa” with Médecins Sans Frontières , an organisation Leslie had spent part of her youth with.
(It doesn’t seem that Leslie abode by Bruce’s absurd ban on her practising medicine. For instance, she clearly stated that she’d been treating a young man with conjunctivitis).
Uhuru na Umoja
Numerous African countries had long-running MSF operations during the mid-2000s. However :
- Parts of the dialogue are in Swahili.
- A number of locals speak English.
- There are references to Katavi and lions.
- The terrain is mostly savannah.
- One of the named characters wears what looks like an enkarewa Maasai beaded necklace.
This suggests Western Tanzania, and to a lesser extent Southern Kenya.
MSF operations in Tanzania are based in the North of the Kigoma region. They provide relief to refugees from the civil war in Burundi.
But Leslie and Stephanie were doing a small, roving rural vaccination op. Perhaps to avoid informants paid by Wayne. So it’s credible that they were working well South of Kigoma – in the Katavi region.
There’s a weird mention of the city of Kailahun. The Kailahun I’m aware of is in Sierra Leone, where TMK Swahili ain’t exactly a presence. I guess it should have been Mpanda ?
When I get a rhythm within
In — presumably — late 2007, Stephanie ran into a shetani (demons) hunter and his militia. These took over the village she and Leslie had been working with, claiming that they’d sense and kill disguised demons amidst the citizenry.
Ms. Brown was in the bush at that point. To intervene, she cobbled together a mask and outfit approximating the spirit Katabi. Since her hair and skin would have been a dead giveaway.
Steph routed the hunters. But a young man had been slain, and Leslie got shot. Ms. Brown and two lads rushed Dr. Thompkins to a city hospital, saving her life.
To Leslie’s dismay, Stephanie realised that she couldn’t stop being Spoiler. And had to return to her responsibilities in Gotham City.
History (part 2)
Brown’s return to Gotham is undocumented. But she soon had a costume, gear, a motorbike, an apartment, etc..
This suggests some sort of emergency cache/base. Likely with a full cover ID, a bank account, etc..
As a No-Prize HypothesisA made-up explanation to plug a plot hole., it seems credible that part of becoming Robin would be to establish one or more such caches. Which even Batman wouldn’t know about, for security.
Spoiler lived in secret for some weeks. She was apparently gathering her courage to reveal her survival to Tim — now adopted as Tim Wayne — then to her mum.
Stephanie shadowed Tim, being unsure of how to approach him.
But as he was tracking down the thief Violet, she realised that he was about to fall into a trap set by the Sin Fang mob.
The pair got Violet out alive, but had to scram under heavy gunfire. Things hadn’t gone well, as Tim was furious that someone was “impersonating” Spoiler.
He also planted a tracer on her, which she realised too late. By that point, Batman and Robin were at her doorstep.
So that happened I guess
Contrasting with the horrific and cruel circumstances of Stephanie’s apparent death, the reunion was a non-event :
- Tim was elated to see Stephanie alive. Though by that point he was in a relationship with one Zoanne Wilkins.
- Alfred shared Tim’s reaction.
- Batman mumbled something about having long suspected that Stephanie wasn’t dead. He had no objection about Spoiler’s return.
- A few days later, Brown went to see her mum at her work. This didn’t work out great, and Mrs. Brown’s objection to Stephanie being Spoiler intensified.
- Stephanie eventually rebuilt her close friendship with Cassandra. But this was entirely off-screen.
Spoiler was therefore free to return to Gotham as a minor vigilante, and frequent field partner of Robin.
She also resumed her studies at Gotham Heights, the same high school as Tim.
Though she was still going by Stephanie and her appearance was unaltered, her secret identity seemed fully preserved. Despite the late 2004 media circus.
History (part 3)
Batman resumed experimentation with meditation, drugs and mysticism. He then went missing.
Dick and Tim were alarmed, thinking that he was going insane. They sought to locate Bruce.
But in the meanwhile, Bruce covertly contacted Stephanie. He asked her to delay Tim’s investigations.
Wayne & Wayne
Though this put Spoiler in an awkward situation, she complied. But Stephanie told Tim the truth once he angrily realised that something was off.
His main reaction was to resent her for having been in contact with Bruce while he wasn’t.
Furthermore, she ran into the same factor that was making Tim and Zoanne’s relationship fritter away. Tim Wayne had been becoming more Batman-like, and less approachable.
And this was rapidly getting worse as he obsessively sought to maintain order in Gotham in Batman’s absence.
Nevertheless, Spoiler provided support as Robin helped the Teen Titans put together a new roster. She also evaluated Traci Thirteen’s current level of combat prowess as part of the applications.
Spoiler may also have worked to help locate Batman. Possibly at Nightwing’s behest.
She spied on Intergang, using what may have been one of their personal invisibility devices. This was tied to Intergang having designs on the Gotham City underworld – perhaps giving the impression that they knew something about Bruce’s disappearance.
The Penguin (Oswald Cobblepot) was the best shot for Gotham’s underworld to resist takeover from Intergang. He negotiated an alliance with ex-Intergang crime leader Tobias Whale. Spoiler also provided intel on Intergang.
To her dismay, the Penguin’s attempts ultimately failed. And Spoiler twice had to stop the murderous Vigilante (Dorian Chase) during his Punisher impersonations.
But Batgirl and the Outsiders intervened with enough force to rout Intergang.
(Whether the woman wearing the Spoiler outfit during the Intergang crisis was Stephanie is unclear. The Penguin handed the costume over to an unseen ally of his, who seemed taller than Stephanie. But Ms. Brown later uses the same invisibility device as the Spoiler did during the Intergang case. So… who knows. I’d err toward an impersonator, though).
Steph still received marching orders from a possibly insane Bruce. He insisted that hindering Tim’s efforts was for his own good.
His reasoning was that it was a golden opportunity for Robin to toughen up. Which would make him safer in the long run.
At Bruce’s behest, Stephanie :
- Hired the Scarab (Maat Shadid) for a faux hit on Robin.
- Presumably hired Jaeger (Amsel Reiniger) to inflame the gang situation.
- Worked with the General (Ulysses Hadrian Armstrong), now a young adult. He consulted about strategies to manipulate gang unrest in Gotham during Batman’s absence.
Armstrong collaborated with Spoiler as he wanted a shot at Robin. But he hated him so much that he tried to kill Spoiler out of the blue.
She pulled enough of a dodge to have the shot hit her shoulder rather than her head. But the wound and blood loss delayed her work.
This also gave time to the General to recruit Scarab, modifying her contract to a lethal force one. Spoiler had to intervene despite her wounds, but she did save Tim.
Gone too far
However, Steph’s doubts about Bruce’s plans were rapidly growing. Especially after Tim was badly burned by Anarky (Ulysses Armstrong).
Spoiler therefore switched to helping contain the situation. If only to stop Tim from further disappearing into obsessive behaviour. She clashed with Lynx II, who was attempting to tank peace talks between gangs, then with Anarky (U. Armstrong).
It was too little and too late. Tim was now more Bruce-like than ever. He even forbade Stephanie from being Spoiler in Gotham.
Batman’s plan had been a success. Tim was indeed now a stronger vigilante, and in a better position to replace Bruce once he’d be gone.
But he’d just used Steph’s love for Tim to manipulate her. And once the plot was done both men again threw her away.
History (part 4)
Steph did let go of the costume for a time, to facilitate rebuilding bridges with her mother. But she knew she’d be Spoiler again sooner rather than later.
The same week, Dr. Thompkins returned to Gotham. She restarted her free community clinic, with the Cavalier (Mortimer Drake) providing security.
This *might* have been financially supported by Dick Grayson.
Out of costume, Stephanie foiled a basic theft by Nocturna (Natalia Knight). She left her stranded to be arrested by Robin.
But Knight escaped – only to be foiled by Brown again, this time as Spoiler.
During this incident, Tim spotted her and sort of, kind of, vaguely semi-apologised. Without admitting he’d been wrong.
Tim Wayne then embarked on a crusade to find a missing Bruce Wayne. Bruce had died during the Final Crisis, but Tim was convinced against all evidence that he was still alive.
His mental state again deteriorated, and Dick Grayson asked Stephanie to talk to him.
That didn’t work at all, and the obsessive Tim brushed Steph aside. Again. He then left to investigate abroad.
Battle for the cowl
Meanwhile, Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) was considering assembling a small network of operatives to collectively replace Batman. Among these, Spoiler and her invisibility device would be the stealth expert.
This project was partially derailed by the clashes about who’d get to succeed Batman. But Oracle (Barbara Gordon) and Batgirl did assemble a stopgap force.
It operated a bit like the Birds of Prey once had, though it wasn’t meant to last.
Spoiler was part of this roster, though she wasn’t seen in action.
It was presumably as part of the Network that Stephanie resumed training with, and patrolling with, Batgirl (Cassandra Cain).
Stephanie’s wardrobe continues to revolve around at least one prominently light purple article.
It also gets a bit less suburbs, and more practical East Coast big city worker. Woollen beanies, skinny jeans, surplus Army jackets (with big pockets !), etc..
Aside from some early bits (such as the Robin/Spoiler Special) Spoiler keeps being manipulated and sidelined during this era.
Little is therefore seen of her characterisation.
At first there’s a narrative turn away from Stephanie as being haplessly out of her depth, and a forced return to the Dixon, pre-War Games glory days on Robin.
But something of a War Games era take returns during the Batman R.I.P. era. With Spoiler being manipulated and ineffective.
This era is dominated by Steph’s difficulties in letting go of her love for Tim, and of her desire for approval from Bruce.
But though at first it looks like she might succeed in getting him back, Tim’s personality starts changing too much.
He becomes too Bruce-like. That includes :
- Blaming her for his own and Bruce’s misdeeds.
- Sidelining her as a foolish dumb girl while he’s busy with important hard man things.
- Trampling over everyone, including his brother Dick, while he’s obsessively convinced only he is correct.
- Treating his girlfriends as a frilly nuisance, ghosting Zoanne, etc..
Even as this era ends, and despite his behaviour, she’s still pining for Tim to some extent.
On the other hand she manages to again mend her relationship with her mother, so there’s that.
Though Stephanie is a suburbs kid, she has come to develop an empathy with the inner city. She feels it, she knows it, she’s part of it – and her affinity for Gotham City is part of what’s propelling her to be Spoiler.
Most of her friends in school are uncomfortable with suburban life, and are seeking mild rebellion. Mostly, they’re the high school’s small punk-styled scene.
But there’s a sense that Steph is becoming too mature and hardened to be genuinely content with these school friends.
On her shoulders
In Tanzania, Steph starts developing a sense that it is imperative that she acts as Spoiler. She *has* to defend Gothamites – no matter what Bruce, Tim, Barbara or anybody else says.
But at this point it is still inchoateNot having a well-defined form yet.. She knows it’s paramount, but she cannot articulate why.
DC Heroes RPG
Tell me more about the game stats
|Dex: 06||Str: 03||Bod: 04|
|Int: 05||Wil: 05||Min: 05|
|Inf: 03||Aur: 04||Spi: 05|
|Init: 018||HP: 020|
Acrobatics: 07, Artist (Gymnastics, pianist): 04, Artist (Sewing): 03, Martial Artist: 05, Medicine (First Aid): 04, Thief (Stealth): 07, Vehicles (Land): 04, Weaponry (Thrown): 05
Expertise (Surveillance), Iron Nerves, Language (Basic Swahili), Lightning Reflexes, Schtick (Disarmer (Weaponry (Thrown)).
Robin (Tim Drake – Low to none), Alfred Pennyworth (Low), Cassandra Cain (Low, off-screen), Richard Grayson (Low, mostly off-screen), Leslie Thompkins (High, mostly off-screen).
- De-Cel line with grapnel [BODY 05].
- Batarang [BODY 06, EV 03, Gliding: 01, Limitation: Gliding only to arc back to the thrower boomerang-like, Note: can be used to Block without penalty].
- Smoke pellets (x9) [BODY 01, Chemical Attack: 02, Fog: 04, Grenade Drawback, Bonus: Chemical Attack is Combined With and Active Throughout the Fog].
- Shotgun mike [BODY 01, Data storage: 05, Extended hearing: 07, Limitations: Data Storage is audial only, all Powers only work in the direction the mike is pointed at].
- Binocs [BODY 01, Telescopic vision: 04, Ultra-vision: 04, Bonus: Ultra-vision’s Range benefits from Telescopic Vision].
- CUSTOM MOTORBIKE [STR 03 BODY 05, Flash (stdy illum): 05, Running: 07, R#02].
- INVISIBILITY DEVICE [BODY 01, Invisibility: 09].
Area Knowledge (Bristol Township) had been maintained for her Robin phase, though it wasn’t demonstrated. It has arbitrarily been phased out with this entry, since she was away for years and didn’t demonstrate it again.
Otherwise, some stats continuity is being maintained even when not demonstrated. I’m never a fan of this, but in the absence of good data…
The low APs of Chemical Attacks for the smoke pellets might be overkill. Since in many cases it’s a roll for nothing. Feel free to drop it, or only bother rolling when low-BODY targets are exposed.
No Secret Identity Drawback. Technically she has it, but it doesn’t play a role in the published stories.
Some Connections seem to exist or logically exist, but are never demonstrated.
So yes, lotsa things not clearly demonstrated. Grmblblblm.
Source of Character: DC Comics.
Writeup completed on the 20th of March, 2023.