I don’t really know what to say about that, except that people are reacting to a comic that’s still a few months away from being released. But the fact is that Steph Brown is NOT, and has never been, Batgirl in the New 52. That’s not our decision, that was a call made years ago. We understand that it’s an unpopular decision among many fans, but in this continuity, there’s no Steph Brown Batgirl. *shrug*
I also don’t have much personal attachment to Steph - I drew an issue of Batman Inc that featured her but that’s the extent of my engagement with the character. (I’ve heard from lots of people that Bryan Q Miller’s run of the Steph Batgirl is great, but I haven’t read it. I don’t want to be unduly influenced by it, I’d rather just do my own thing and trust my excellent editors to point out if there are any significant errors or similarities.) As mentioned before, different people respond to different versions of a character, each with their favourite versions, none of which are any more or less valid than another.
So, what you’re going to read is not an imitation of Steph grafted on to Barbara, it’s how Brenden and I interpret and choose to depict the character of Barbara, based on our own history and affection for that character and parsing how she’s been presented in all media for nearly 50 years.
As always, we hope you will enjoy it!
I’ve seen the complaint before when a youthful, peppier version of Barbara Gordon was shown that she really is just the Steph Brown version hijacked to make the classic Batgirl more interesting. For me, I think one of the reasons I loved the Steph Brown Batgirl so much (despite otherwise having little interest in her as Spoiler) is that she brought some of the joy back to Batgirl, a quality that I have always associated with the character since waaay back in the Yvonne Craig days. As a bonus we got that without sacrificing the development and triumphs Babs had acheived as Oracle.
I think this a key point - I think the Steph Batgirl was introduced to fill the need for the young, joyful Batgirl that no longer existed after Barbara was taken out of the suit. The reason she proved to be popular, I believe, is because on some level, conscious or not, people know that’s what the character of Batgirl ideally should be (as an archetype, not specifically who’s in the suit), that’s the approach that resonates the strongest. So Steph Batgirl was really a way to echo Barbara. And now that we have the opportunity, that’s the approach we’re taking, because it’s the most meaningful to us.
And the more I think about it this makes sense because my understanding is, up to the very last minute, the Batgirl in Steph’s books was meant to be Barbara, but the Oracle advocates happily won out one last time. This is not to imply that Steph Batgirl is instead a clone of Babsgirl, since she brought her own issues which gave the book its own flavor. (e.g.”I’ve been a screw-up, but that ends TODAY.”)