I have been highly critical of Chuck Dixon's recent work for DC Comics. However, I must admit that this book, much like his work on Robin, is right on the money. He has managed to take all of my hatred for what DC did to poor Stephanie Brown and Leslie Thompkins and wrap it up in a tiny ball and throw it out the window by reintroducing the character of Spoiler back into the DCU and making her as fun as lively as ever. This book tied together Steph's journey back to Gotham in a way that made it believable, and quite captivating. There are problems, but overall I am satisfied with the conclusion of what was an ugly story arc for DC.
There are two stories in this book, covering both a recent adventure of Robin and Spoiler soon after her return, and one of her brief life in Africa. I will begin with the first, as it plays into the second well for commentary purposes.
After the events in War Games a couple of years ago, it was believed that Stephanie was dead. Instead, she was whisked off to Africa by Dr. Leslie Thompkins in order to save Stephanie from a life in a cape and mask. Leslie didn't actually ask Steph if she wanted to do this, but given the dreadful events of War Games it is not surprising that Stephanie would willingly go along. We encounter the two of them doing humanitarian work in tribal Africa.
Before going much farther, it is important that we establish that it is not modern Africa, where medicine would be welcomed, but Dixon is trying to relate this story to the shamanistic tribes that still exist in Africa. However, Dixon does perhaps cross a line when he depicts these shamans as violent and very much in a negative light. This is unfortunate, as it could have been depicted in a different way and still told an interesting story.
At the end of this story Stephanie realizes that her life, and her heart, resides in Gotham. The diary entries, which are written in the same script as the old issues with Spoiler's journal, communicate this sentiment adequately, and Steph sounds like a woman who has been through a lot, and is making her choice with a clear mind.
This tone, and experience, is kind of thrown out the window in the story in Gotham with Robin. I am sure that Dixon is trying to communicate that Stephanie can bring the “fun” and “life” back into Tim's life, and pull him away from darkness. However, in combination with known events, and also with the story in Africa, this tone does not seem to fit. She is a young woman who has grown into her role as a hero, and the script does not reflect that.
Overall, the book is fun and entertaining despite these slips. The fight scene, and camaraderie that is displayed with Robin and Spoiler is just like the scenes when she was first introduced. She represents a competent hero who knows the business, even moreso after serving as Robin under the Dark Knight. Raphael Albuquerque has an interesting style, which communicates the story quite well. He has a good handle on how to represent motion and combat, and the colorist, Cris Peter, does a great job giving the scene proper highlights on the costumes and equipment.
Spoiler is back, and that makes me happy. The sour taste has not been totally washed from the DCU, but having Stephanie back in the universe brings back a certain amount of light, enthusiasm and joy for this reader.
What did you think of this book?
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