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Today’s moment is branding spanking new. Or maybe brand slapping new. You decide. I am so pleased to have as my guest poster today the delightful and extremely talented Bryan Q. Miller.
Bryan is talking about a moment from Bruce Wayne the Road Home: Batgirl #1. The issue is only a month old but one of its moments has been selected as a nominee for most memorable. Bryan’s thoughts follow.
So… THAT happened.
Less a love tap, more a bitch slap, Stephanie Brown (a young lady whom I now will forever regard as THE Batgirl) lost herself in a moment. A very human thing to do. But not so human as what she did next…
Neither moment initially existed. Batgirl 14 was to play out as it did, with Batgirl and Supergirl enjoying iced cream amidst gooped Draculas and whatnot. Then 15 played out much the same, though in place of the false murder wrap toward the end, Batgirl returned to Firewall only to find Bruce Wayne himself, back from… wherever. Firing her. Batgirl “no more”! Then, despite his efforts, a plain-clothes Stephanie Brown proved her mettle by taking on the Reapers in Issue 16. It was Babs who was to throw down the horned gauntlet and declare that Bruce had no right to interfere with Team Batgirl.
And then something fortuitous happened - Editor Mike Siglain (easily my partner in crime for Issues 1-14, along with the ever-British Lee Garbett) threw me a curve ball. The Fabulous Fabian I-can’t-spell-his-last-name-eza was charting a Bruce Wayne Return event across most of the Gotham titles. Each issue was to examine the relationship between Bruce Wayne/Batman with its titular character. And suddenly, what was to be a handful of throw-away moments across two issues was given a chance to breathe during an entire issue, Bruce Wayne: The Road Home - Batgirl #1.
Stephanie’s journey over the course of the volume leading up to this issue was all about self-awareness. And about validation. She had finally started to get some traction regarding being okay with who SHE is/was. And then this legend, this symbol, shows back up. This man she probably thought she’d never have to deal with again. A man who’s approval she’d never truly been able to procure. But then, as soon as she saw his face, as soon as she realized Bruce was up to his old tricks again, that they were dancing to a very familiar tune, Batgirl realized something - not only did she not want Bruce’s approval… she didn’t NEED it. And that he would dare to presume to tell her what she did and did not need AND-THEN-SHE-TEA-KETTLED-AND-SLAPPED-HIM!
Though some might raise an eyebrow about her having such a “violent” response… Stephanie’s someone who leaps before she looks. She lives not only with her heart, but through it. Stephanie Brown is a person. And people have emotions. The slap was one of the most emotional, cathartic things I could have had Batgirl do in that moment (or probably in many others).
Never tug on Superman’s cape. Don’t futz with the Lone Ranger’s mask. But when Bruce Wayne gives you face-lemons, make some slap-lemonade.
Good for you, Ms. Brown.
PS Should any of you decide to slap Bruce Wayne in the face for any reason, take a hint from our girl and get the hell out of there before he changes his mind. He’s the Batman, after all.