Stephanie Brown is currently roaming the streets of Gotham as Batgirl, but during her time as Spoiler she was at the center of one of DC’s most controversial storylines when she became pregnant at just 15 years old.
Batman: Cataclysm was a Bat-Family crossover event that ran all throughout 1998 and dealt with the aftermath of a 7.6 magnitude earthquake that leveled Gotham City. Leading up to this event, Stephanie is dating a man named Dean; however, when the earthquake hits, he leaves town and abandons Stephanie. Soon after, Stephanie Brown begins dating Robin (although she still doesn’t know his true identity as Tim Drake), and the two of them do the best they can to keep crime under control in an earthquake-ravaged Gotham. A few months after the quake, Stephanie starts to feel sick, and the reason for her sudden weakness surprises even her.
In Robin #58, written by Chuck Dixon with art by Staz Johnson and Stan Woch, Stephanie Brown tells Robin that she is pregnant. Robin is shocked, but once Stephanie clarifies that the baby isn’t his, he decides he’s going to stick by her side for the duration of the pregnancy. Stephanie and her mother visit Gotham County Social Services and a private adoption agency to assess her options, but she eventually finalizes an adoption through a hospital. To the very end of her pregnancy, Stephanie wavers on whether or not she should keep the baby or go through with the adoption. However, when she’s put under general anesthesia for her C-section, Stephanie imagines her father, Cluemaster, returning to take her child away; the situation devolves into chaos when Batman and Robin arrive, and Stephanie’s innocent baby is thrown into a battlefield. Realizing that her baby won’t be safe with her due to her lifestyle, Stephanie goes through with the adoption, although she’s clearly heartbroken.
It was a bold choice by DC to deal with a hot topic issue such as teen pregnancy in one of its most popular series, but it was ultimately a good decision for Stephanie’s character. Stephanie Brown had previously been depicted as a headstrong, hot-headed, inexperienced teenager. Throughout her pregnancy, she shows true maturity in her decision-making and how she handles herself in a situation that isn’t ideal. It marked a real stepping stone toward growing up for her, and although Spoiler maintained her lighthearted demeanor going forward, her character gained a subtle wisdom that hadn’t been present before.
Unfortunately, DC has since forgotten Stephanie’s revolutionary teen pregnancy. The last mention of Stephanie’s daughter was made by Batman in 2004's Batman #633, when he promises Stephanie on her deathbed that her daughter will want for nothing. The New 52 reboot started from scratch with Stephanie’s backstory, and as of now, Stephanie’s daughter hasn’t been mentioned in Rebirth or Infinite Frontier. Taking away an experience that was so important to Stephanie Brown’s character pre-reboot cheapens her character development and does her a great disservice. Choosing to erase such a pivotal event in both Batgirl’s life and overall comic history was a bad move on the part of DC.
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