Stephanie Brown, previously the amateur vigilante Spoiler, got a brief turn as Batman’s sidekick. In Robin #127, we see her relishing the role. Meanwhile, her predecessor Tim Drake adjusts to a post-Robin life…and the fact that his ex-girlfriend is now the new Robin.
Since this was Tim’s series, we could safely assume he’d be back in the sidekick saddle before too long, but the role-shifting made for an interesting change of pace, and one that didn’t drag on for long at all. (Stephanie would go on to have a far more successful stint as Batgirl…at least until a continuity reboot interfered.)
Comics have been replacing familiar characters with different versions for a while now, since long before 2004. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. This worked because it was intended as a temporary change and it provided opportunities for two established, main characters to grow and learn.
Plus, some superhero roles have greater replaceability than others, and teenage sidekick roles tend to be at the higher end of that scale. Teenagers are still growing up and figuring themselves out, and a superhero persona can often provide a cocoon in which that discovery takes place. Adult superheroes, however, have more or less cemented personalities. Batman is only Bruce Wayne, but Robin works just as well whether he’s Dick Grayson or Tim Drake…and Stephanie Brown had potential, too. And they work because each one is likeable as an individual character, not by virtue of being “Batman’s sidekick.”
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist: Damion Scott
Publisher: DC Comics
How to Read It: back issues; Comixology
Appropriate For: ages 11 and up