The Renegade Robins Club is back with more early stories of the Spoiler! In the early years of her existence, she would pop up in Tim Drake’s Robin series every ten issues or so. We will be looking at her recurring stories from 1995 to 1996, including a solo story in Showcase '95!
I actually have just read all of these early Spoiler appearances in Robin because I have been reading Robin. I think it is a little sad that she is willing to date Tim only as Robin and not know who he really is. I understand why he cant tell her, but that should mean no dating. So I dont find it either cute or creepy. She should have more self worth than to settle for a half relationship, and Tim shouldnt be offering her something that is less than a true relationship.
I love the early Tim/Steph dynamic a lot - I love that she knows what she wants, but pursues it with character. I don’t find it creepy at all, though it definitely comes on strong. But considering that Dixon very much based Robin on the early Lee/Ditko Spider-Man, and Steph clearly fits into the Mary Jane Watson archetype in that narrative (and MJ is one of my very favorite characters as well), I think it works beautifully well.
As for her being a damsel in distress - I think she’s clearly less experienced, but she has her own motivations and actions, as we see at the end of #16, and I think that it wouldn’t be very realistic for her to be outshining Tim all the time as someone who hasn’t gotten his round the world training and direct training with Batman.
The Final Night issue, particularly, is both really cool as a pivotal moment in Steph’s moral growth as a hero, but also a bit frustrating because it makes attempts to give her the same lesson (in Detective Comics #796 ) feel redundant or repetitive.
I really enjoyed the dynamic between Stephanie and Tim. Its cute to see her be so over the top about it. I think she does it because it drives Tim so…(wait for it)…batty. He wants to give in and like her for real but has the whole business and pleasure dilemma. The scene at the funeral really showed that he digs Steph and what a confused teenager he really is.
I loved the art for issues 25 and 26. Mike Wieringo knocked it outta the park. And the cover art for issue 35 was amazing! I loved the colors and another kiss shared between our heroes!
Poor Steph - Bruce steals even her own threads from under her!
To try to get things a bit more Steph-focused, there’s a strong sense in fandom that Steph’s characterization either “flipped” (for those who didn’t like it) or “progressed” (for those who do) from being the angry girl who beats up her dad in Robin #16, to the Batgirl who stands for hope and second chances. What do you all think?
How do you feel about the early Tim/Steph dynamic? Is she too much a damsel in distress? Is her crush on Robin cute or creepy?
It’s a solid dynamic. In a way, it feels like a modern version of, say, Dick and Bette Kane back in the 50s. She certainly has some damsel in distress moments, but I think it’s fair, coming from lack of experience rather than skill or cunning. It also helps that there are instances where Stephanie actually saves Tim, like with the truck under the cement, or working together when she’s chained to the bed.
As for the crush…I think I’ll go with cute, though I can totally understand if one were to find it creepy. I think it can be hard to tell if she is genuine in wanting a relationship, or if she’s teasing because she knows it’ll get under Robin’s skin. Maybe it’s because I’ve been recently replaying it, but Steph regarding Tim at this point reminds me a bit of Jessie in Final Fantasy 7 Remake. “Life’s the stage, and love’s the play!”
That’s interesting – I didn’t really get a Mary Jane vibe from Steph in these issues at all. If I were to compare Steph to a character in the Spidey-Verse, it would probably be Black Cat. Steph’s no thief, sure, but the flirtation and the interest almost solely in the superhero side of him makes her more comparable to me.
People do talk about Steph and Bette having similarities, but I just don’t see Bette with her champion abilities and relatively upper class background being very similar to very lower middle class Steph with average activities and abilities (to start with, at least until Damian required all of the Batfamily to become geniuses just to keep up…)