This week on Women in Refrigerators we get to talk about Stephanie Brown. Also known as Spoiler. And Batgirl. And Robin. So what is the controversy surrounding Stephanie? Well there are a couple of different things.
First, her death. So people die all the time in comics. So we’re not so much concerned with the fact that she died in the first place. We are, however, a little concerned that she was tortured to death with a power drill.
Stephanie isn’t the only one of Batman’s sidekicks to be tortured to death, but there is a noticeable difference in the way they were portrayed. Namely, Stephanie was portrayed in a much more sexual manner. Compare:
After his death, Jason Todd received a memorial in the Batcave. Stephanie never received this honor. In fact, after her death she seemed to more or less disappear completely. Why doesn’t she get a monument? Bruce even told her before she died that she really was Robin, the only girl to ever be Robin and not Batgirl. Later commentary by the writers suggested this was more of a ruse than anything, but she wore the cape and used the name.
Stephanie essentially became little more than a plot element, something to affect the lives of the male heroes in the Batman world. That seems to be a common problem for the women in comics. Remember Alex Dewitt, for whom the Women in Refrigerators campaign was named? She was a plot device. Lasting for only five issues, it’s clear she was created for the sole purpose of being killed off.
The good news? As with most comic book deaths, Stephanie was eventually brought back to life. That said, her whereabout are unknown as of the DC relaunch.From time to time publications came out depicting the Batcave with a tribute to Stephanie. You know, after the folks at Project Girl Wonder raised enough noise. Speaking of which, thank you to Project Girl Wonder for much of my information for this post. Here’s to you Girl Wonder.
Coming up next on Women in Refrigerators: Absolute Power.
I posted this and realized I hadn’t even put a picture of Stephanie alive and well. Oops. Here’s one: