Comic Legends: Did Stephanie Brown Become Robin Because She Was Dying?

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Stephanie Brown became Robin specifically because she was set to die in a then-upcoming crossover.



As you may or may not recall, for a brief period in time in 2004, Tim Drake was forced to quit as Robin. Batman then gave the job to Tim's girlfriend, Stephanie Brown, who was a superhero in her own right known as Spoiler. So she became Robin briefly before Batman then fired her for disobeying his orders...

Once back as Spoiler, Stephanie tried to prove herself to Batman by implementing a War Game that she had found in the Bat-Cave that would have led to Batman being in control of Gotham City's crime families. However, she did not understand that one of the key players in the scenario, Matches Malone, was Batman himself, and so the plan fell apart and the villainous Black Mask used the chaos to take control of the crime families himself. In the process, Stephanie also found herself faced off against Black Mask, who tragically murdered her...

She died as Spoiler, but that cover is so much more tragic. That comes from a twisted story later on where we learn that Batman's doctor friend, Leslie Thompkins, intentionally let Stephanie die from her wounds so that she could prove a lesson to Batman about the dangers of his mission to young people (huh?), although it was later retconned that Thompkins instead just faked Stephanie's death to get her away from Batman.

Anyhow, this seemed like a natural enough story. A pretty messed up one, but a natural one. She becomes Robin, gets fired and then, while trying to prove herself to Batman to make up for him firing her, she makes things so much worse.

That, though, was not how things were originally going to happen. As Bill Willingham explained to Word Balloon, "I knew coming into the Robin series that Spoiler was doomed to die. And I wouldn’t have done that, but that was already locked in even before I came on Robin, so I had no point at which to say you shouldn’t do this. But, I did I have this hair-brained idea that, well, if she was going to die — she was such a frustrated character…I mean, everything she wanted out of life she pretty much didn’t get. So, can we give her one little reward before she dies and let her become Robin for awhile."

Of course, what no one (WIllingham included) was the outpouring of love for the idea. As he further noted, "There was a nice spike in sales during that time and I wish her death hadn’t been so as locked in because when it started going really well, what I would have liked to have said was ‘let’s follow this for awhile.’ That was not available as an option and you can’t really do it twice…now let’s have a character that we don’t plan on killing do a female version of Robin taking the reins. You do that same stunt over and over again. We had that momentum once, we lost it."

So yeah, her whole time as Robin was basically a sort of "Make a Wish" scenario.

Thanks to Word Balloon and Bill Willingham for the information!

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