Who is Spoiler?


I dig the Robin title. I’ve liked the character of Tim Drake Wayne since he was first introduced way back in August of 1989 (Batman #436). I liked what happened with the Robin character following One Year Later (for better or worse). I’ve liked what I’ve seen with Robin trying to get his love life in order and really coming into his own as a powerful character. But I have to say, the last several issues playing up the “Who is Spoiler?” story line left me pretty flat.

robin174cover.jpgRobin #174
Written by Chuck Dixon
Art by Chris Batista and Cam Smith
Cover by Freddie Williams II

I think what makes The Three story not so great is the forced way in which the book is being shoehorned into Gotham Underground, the big battle between Oswald Cobblepot and Tobias Whale, the introduction of Violet, and the return of someone wearing the Spoiler outfit.

Barring the conclusion of the story that finds Violet, Spoiler, and Robin fighting it out with a bunch of Korean mafia thugs (and winning – no surprise there), the big question readers have been pondering is who is under the mask.

Let’s cut to the chase and reveal it right now, it is certainly a much more interesting talking point than the rest of the story.

Spoilers is…

wait for it…

Stephanie Brown a.k.a. Spoiler.

When the Spoiler was re-introduced there were two options available to Chuck Dixon; 1) Spoiler would be someone else entirely, who would raise the ire of the fanboy community crying foul about trying to find a replacement when their isn’t a memorial in the bat cave, or 2) Spoiler would be Stephanie Brown, causing everyone to cry foul about bringing a character back from the dead during a time everyone is coming back from the dead. Credit goes to Mr. Dixon for choosing option 3) Stephanie was never dead to begin with.

I will say that this reveal is one that took me by surprise as I never thought there was a third option to begin with.

instead of dying, Stephanie lived, and thanks to Dr. Leslie Thompkins, made her escape and recovery in Africa. There are still some unanswered questions about why Leslie saved Stephanie but told Batman she had died, causing Dr. Thompkins to become persona no grata with Bats, but a little suspension of belief works okay for me now. And I only say that because Stephanie might actually be a Skrull in disguise as the Marvel 616 aliens are plotting to overthrow the DCU at the same time.

That’s a joke people.

So the real Spoiler is back, and welcomed back into the bat-fold by Batman almost instantly. Batman by the way, earns a Bat-Dickness level of 8 here for never telling Robin he suspected Stephanie wasn’t dead. For those who were offended Stephanie never had a memorial in the bat cave, the Dark Knight uses the never-thought-she-was-dead-gambit to brush off those readers who have ranted for months about this oversight.

There’s also the tearful reunion between Stephanie and her mother with lot’s of explaining to do, but beyond that, Spoiler’s return will make for some very interesting moments for Robin. First he has to deal with the betrayal by Stephanie who never contacted him about her death, the whole Zoane love triangle that will surely erupt, followed close by the Wonder Girl romance, and finally the two will have to decide how they will reconcile. Having the hots for three women who obviously have the hots for you is quite the problem indeed…

Fortunately, we don’t have to wait that long, as the Robin/Spoiler Special #1 is just around the corner.

The Good

  • Stephanie’s return
  • Korean mafia fight
  • Batman being a dick
  • Cops gone bad – this is Gotham after all
  • Is Marcel an artist’s rendition of Dan DiDio?
  • The kiss
  • Alfred’s reaction

The Bad

  • Violet

For whatever reason, the Violet character never made much sense or impact to me as a character (good, bad, or indifferent), and only seemed to be there as a way to potentially throw readers off the Spoiler trail (they both wear purple). Dixon’s handling of this particular issue is well done, even if everything seems forced into 22-pages. The fight should have wrapped up last issue, with the big reveal taking center stage with some of the future implications rising here instead of a special issue. There are some potential bigger plot points that arise (see The Good) that I didn’t really touch on in this review that could turn out to be really good in the future.

The art by Chris Batista is solid and walks the line between cartoon drawing and realistic images. His composition is fine, but sometimes the characters look like real life people, which can cause some people (ahem*matthew*ahem) to be drawn out of the story. I’m a fan of Freddie Williams II, but sadly the only art we see from him this issue is on the cover, which is a great cover by the way.

Having Spoiler back in the DCU is a bit of a let down as it returns everything to the status quo from two years ago. I’m still a big fan of keeping characters dead, but those deaths need to have meaning, and I’m not sure Stephanie Brown got her moment to shine previously, so her return is okay with me.

Overall I’m giving the issue 3 out of 5 Stars and hoping Spoiler sticks around for a long time, develops a strong relationship with Tim as both lover and crime fighting partner, and doesn’t get another drill to the face anytime soon.


The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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  1. May 28, 2008 at 4:36 pm — Reply

    I’m alright with Stephanie being back.

    I think that the explanation given by Dixon for Lesley Thompkins’ ‘disappearing’ her is solid — after what had just happened to her at the hands of Black Mask, having her out of the picture for a good long while (over a year, per One Year Later) to give her time to heal from the physical and mental scars that must’ve left was a good idea.

    And, it’s exactly what Thompkins would have done, and explains away the otherwise unbelievable “I’m a heartless b**** who let Stephanie die just to teach you a lesson, Brcue” characterization at the end of War Games …

  2. ykw
    May 29, 2008 at 1:10 pm — Reply

    “Dixon’s handling of this particular issue is well done, even if everything seems forced into 22-pages.”

    That’s just ‘cos we’ve all grown used to what comics sound like in the Age of Decompression. Stories used to be fully fleshed out in done-in-one-(or-two)-issue(s) rather than hyper-extended arcs, and characterization/soap-opera elements were more holistically integrated with the main storyline. Ever since Marv Wolfman and Chris Claremont showed that, yes, you =could= decouple the two and that you =could= tell stories that built up organically over the course of several months or even years, the industry seems to have believed that you =had= to construct stories in that manner.

    Dixon comes from a slightly older school than that. Thank goodness.

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