The Bizarre Death and Life of Spoiler

In Death is not the End, we spotlight the outlandish explanations for comic book characters (mostly super-villains) surviving seeming certain death.

Today we look at the bizarre life and death of Stephanie Brown, Spoiler.

Okay, so Stephanie Brown had taken over from Tim Drake as Robin, but Batman had then fired her. To prove her worth to Batman, she stole a file he had on a theoretical plan he had where he would take over the Gotham City mob. The problem was that she had incomplete information and did not realize the important role that Matches Malone (Batman's criminal alter ego) needed to play in the scenario, so when she kicked things off and Matches wasn't there to play his part, it all fell apart and Black Mask took the opportunity to use the chaos to his advantage.

Black Mask ended up killing Orpheus (who Batman had planned to be his front to be in charge of the mob, as Orpheus was a superhero undercover as a villain) and then captured Stephanie and tortured her in "Robin" #130 (by Bill Willingham, Jon Proctor, Robert Campanella and Rodney Ramos) until she gave up the plan...

She escaped, but ultimately in "Batman" #633 (by Bill Willingham, Kinsun and a bunch of inkers), she died of her injuries...

Then, however, we learned a number of issues later, in "Batman" #644 (by Bill Willingham, Giuseppe Camuncoli and Sandra Hope), that Stephanie ACTUALLY died because Doctor Leslie Thompkins wanted to prove a point to Batman (What the what?!)...

So that was the status for a few years, as fans freaked out because Stephanie was not given a memorial in the Batcave despite her being Robin for a time.

Until then in "Robin" #173 (by Chuck Dixon, Chris Batista and Cam Smith), Robin meets a returned Spoiler!

Then next issue has the explanation for why Spoiler is still alive...

It didn't make any sense with what occurred in "Batman" #644, but hell, who cares? It's why I named it one of the best comic book retcons ever. I love that Dixon even managed to explain why there was no memorial (even if that, too, really didn't make sense - "I was pretty sure she wasn't dead, but I didn't tell you, Tim, for...reasons. And even though I want you to think that she was dead, I didn't give her a memorial for...reasons").

So there you go, that's how Spoiler came back to life.

If there are any other comic book deaths that you're curious about how they were reversed, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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