SHOP TALK: BATGIRL writer Bryan Q. Miller on writing teen heroes
Bruce Wayne travelled through time, a living, temporal bomb – teeming with highly dangerous Omega energy. He was a caveman, a pirate, a pilgrim, a cowboy, a gumshoe… something with computer tentacles from the far future… And when he finally got home, when Bruce Wayne finally beat death, beat fate, conquered time itself, what happened?
BATGIRL SLAPPED HIM IN THE FACE.
Right across that beautiful, battle-scarred, chiseled chin of his. It was a gut reaction. He put her through a test she knew she didn’t need, after a year of Stephanie proving to the entire world that she deserved a second chance. She was offended. Disgusted. And in that moment… she had a natural, human reaction. And then what happened after that?
Because Stephanie Brown is a person. Who is also a hero. And a girl. But first and foremost, she’s a person... who watches Futurama reruns on basic cable (but that’s beside the point). Knowing that is key to writing Batgirl (not the Zoidberg part; the person part.)
She’s a human being. Free to make her own mistakes, to have her own triumphs. Sure, she has limitations... but Stephanie knows what they are. And she isn’t going to let anything hold her back. Batgirl’s becoming more self-aware, as we all do when we’re her age. She’s growing.
Have I ever been a nineteen year old girl who moonlights as a costumed vigilante?
The short answer is “No.” But I have been nineteen – just like Stephanie. Right at the edge of undeniable, honest-to-goodness adulthood. She’s finding herself, and in the pages of Batgirl, we’re right there beside her, along for the ride.
And much like everyone’s first year of college, Stephanie’s is going to be a bumpy one. Filled with Reapers and Witch Boys. Beetles and Bathounds. Deadlines and finals. Even though extraordinary things come her way, there’s always the “normal” thrown into the mix.
Batgirl by her very nature should be immediately relatable to the reader. That’s why we gave her a costume where you can see her eyes and, more importantly, her smile. She’s a hero with emotion, which is both her biggest vulnerability… and her greatest asset. And in that space in between, that’s where Batgirl’s sense of hope comes from.
Hope for a brighter tomorrow. Hope for a safer Gotham. Hope for a second chance at… everything. Batgirl not only wants the world to be a better place, but she believes that it’s possible. Which means that (hopefully) Stephanie Brown is just like you and me. Except that she knows some karate.
I do not know karate. Kudos to you if you do.