Sunday, February 6, 2011

Why Batgirl?

This one is technically Max's choice but I'm stepping up to the plate because he still hasn't learnt how to correlate his UK clock with our Australian clock. And I know Ben likes to get his posts up in a timely fashion on Mondays so I'm giving him lead in time.

The Batgirl of choice here is Stephenie Brown. I don't know why Max chose her specifically so I'll give you my rundown, as a person who just doesn't know a lot about the DCU.

I looked up Stephanie Brown because I had no idea who she was. Hell, I was shocked to find out how many Batgirls there had been, no less how many identities Brown herself had held. The Spoiler (sounds like she just went online and ruined people's days), and a female Robin, and now Batgirl. For a bird not even twenty years in publication she's been passed around like a bag of chips (or 'crisps' as I like to think Max would say). I generally don't have high hopes for a character who just hasn't landed in a niche of their own. It's worrying.

I didn't even read her whole bio. Again, for twenty years it didn't feel like the bio was elaborating on all her awesome tales but rather just getting her continuity straight. I don't like that. I'm not sure if I like this character or not, I guess you'll find out when you read my script, maybe I get it completely wrong...whenever I write a DC character on here I get worried because I just don't know. I know not much of what I wrote needed her laboriously long bio to make sense.

This is probably the first negative Why...? post we've ever had on here. Sorry. I'm sure Max could have done a much better job. Maybe he will, on his site.

For now, enjoy Batgirl (Stephanie Brown) week. I'm sure, like many of the female characters on here, we'll beat the crap out of her and generally demean her. I know I will.


  1. She seems like a bit of a hack to me. I mean, the only reason she is even wearing the Batgirl uniform is because Cassandra Cain gave it up and handed it to her. I know she's "Batman Approved" now, but seriously...

  2. As someone who is currently loving the BQM written Batgirl series, I am very happy with this choice and look forward to making good use of it. :-)

  3. Clearly I should NEVER go out drinking on thought balloons night.

    Anyway, I chose Batgirl for fairly simple reasons, which I'll go into here:

    She's MY Batgirl.
    Everyone has that perfect representation of a character, legacy or otherwise, that they encounter first, the one that imprints in their mind as the one that matters most to them. A lot of people had this with Cass Cain, and are substantially annoyed at the fact that the character they cherished is gone, which is understandable. But for me, I hopped into the batbooks as Batman Reborn hit all the titles, with this fresh-faced, new, peppy and most of all entirely relatable Batgirl starring in her own book.

    The past year has been kind to her, as Bryan Q Miller and Lee Garbett threw out both a great and varied first few months introducing the character to new readers and showing how well she bounces off of Barbara Gordon and that unholy terror known as Damian Wayne (interesting aside: BQM is the only person to truly capture the voice of Damian outside of Grant Morrison.) And then we got a stellar little crossover with Red Robin and The Flood, one of the best comic arcs ever, that reintroduced Wendy Harris as a kinda/sorta sidekick to Oracle, Proxy, solidifying the supporting cast of the book quite comfortably (alongside her schoolmates Francisco and that one girl).

    So now we have a well-established and accessible Batgirl (now handled artistically by Dustin Nguyen), and one that has a lot of room for people to play with.

    And that's why she's picked. And hopefully she survives the week without our boy's club beating her to a bloody pulp.


  4. Stephanie Brown: BATGIRL – Best of Frenemies - MK Stangeland Jr.

    The scene has BATGIRL (Stephanie Brown) and ROBIN (Damian Wayne) on board the MASTER BLIMP, the flying Headquarters of the BLIMPMASTER (See Batgirl #12 for art reference), where he is with his henchmen, the AIRHEADS (No art reference).

    (6 Panels)

    Panels 1-3 are arranged as follows – Panel 3 is a central panel, stretching across the top part of the page. Panels 1 and 2 are smaller, circular panels overlaid on top of panel 3 with one in each corner of the page.

    Panel 1: Circular panel with ROBIN. He effectively pops out of the panel as he hits an AIRHEAD that is also popping out of the panel, while looking across to panel 2.

    ROBIN: No, I hate you far more.

    Panel 2: Circular panel with BATGIRL, positioned opposite on the top of the page from Panel 1. BATGIRL pops out of this panel, using her staff to help her deliver a flying kick into an AIRHEAD’s jaw.

    BATGIRL: My hatred for you is so far more it’s not even in this country anymore.

    Panel 3: Large panel taking up the top third of the page. Panel shows the full extend of the battle between BATGIRL, ROBIN, and the AIRHEADS.

    ROBIN: My hatred for you stays close so it can sneak up and kill you in your sleep.

    BATGIRL: I hate you so much it’s like a shield protecting me from your hate’s stealth attacks.

    ROBIN: My hatred for you is so sophisticated it knows fifteen ways to penetrate your shield before you even know what’s happening.

    BATGIRL: I hate you so much there’s fifteen different versions of it running around at all times.

    Panel 4: The aftermath of the battle, with the AIRHEADS on the ground, defeated. BLIMPMASTER is seen trying to flee the scene, but ROBIN has shot a batline at his legs causing him to start to trip and fall.

    ROBIN: The depths of my hatred for you are so deep you can’t possibly fathom it.

    Panel 5 Batgirl stands in front of BLIMPMASTER so that she hits him in the face as he falls over.

    BATGIRL: That’s only because my hate for you is so much deeper that it can’t look back and…it…

    BATGIRL: (Narration caption) I think I lost it there.

    Panel 6: BATGIRL and ROBIN stand over BLIMPMASTER and the AIRHEADS, who have been tied up in a circle for delivery to the GCPD.

    ROBIN: I believe that makes it Robin: 5, Batgirl: 2.

    BATGIRL: (Narration caption.) Drat. Little jerk is a on hot streak.


    So if you’re still wondering what this is suppose to be, I considered the whole Steph/Damian relationship after Max brought it up in his ‘real’ ‘Why?...’ for Stephanie, and though ‘What if they managed to turn their…”general dislike”…for each other into a game?

    Which, as of this page, is a game that Robin is winning.

  5. @MK - breaking the habit of a lifetime and actually getting around to commenting on scripts and bloody hell, I love this! You've distilled the antagonistic nature of Batgirl and Robin's relationship to a perfect little game, one that wouldn't at all be amiss in the actual Batgirl series (which, I assure you, is the highest compliment I can pay you).

    The amount of panels and the descriptions within are pretty on the mark too. If I had anything negative to say it would be... Hmm... Well, it would probably be that this script makes me look comparatively amateuristic. Well done, 17 out of 10!

  6. I think it might be a higher compliment that my script managed to get you to break your self-declared habit and comment. :-P

    Either way, getting that kind of reception really helps to make my day. ^__^

  7. @MK - great script man. Don't know whatr else I can say ote rthan I really enjoyed it. I must read some more Damian Wayne stuff, methinks.

    @Ryan - 'timely fashion' or 'annoyingly punctual'? :P

  8. @MK: That was such a fun page. I could just imagine it playing out on one of the various morning cartoons :)

  9. MK - that was loads and loads of fun, but just went to confirm what I've long suspected... they need to get a room.

  10. Wow, I am so glad that you guys are liking what I came up with so much. I was a tad worried that the lines I was trying to fit in might come off a bit awkward, so it's really nice to know I managed to pull the page off better than I could have hoped for when I first thought it up. :-)

  11. Here's mine, let me know what you think:

    BATGIRL: Little Girl Lost
    Page (--): 10 panels, four rows. First and tenth panels are widescreen, taking up the first and last forth of the pages. Four small panels make up the middle.

    PANEL 1: It's night, and there's a hard rainstorm. We are in a child's bedroom, dark and empty, save for two people. Inside the room, sitting on the bed, is an older woman, the child's mother, sullen and holding a teddy bear in her arms, tight as if she would fall away if she let go. Behind the woman, standing outside near the window, is Batgirl, mostly in shadow, drenched in the rain.

    MOTHER (1): You can come in, you know. Get out of the rain for a bit.

    PANEL 2: Batgirl is climbing into the house through the window. Her costume looks banged-up and cut.

    MOTHER (1): Any news? About Elena?

    PANEL 3: Tight profile shot of Batgirl's face. This is not her at her prettiest. Heavy bags under her eyes, dirt and grime on her face, a long cut on her cheek that's recently stopped bleeding.

    BATGIRL (1): I've been tracking down the known super-criminals who's M.O.s involve children.
    (2): Saved some cancer patient kids from being "put back together" by Humpty-Dumpty, but no sign of her there.
    (3): Now I'm looking at the Mafia and the child rings.

    PANEL 4: The woman puts her head down, her chin resting on the bear's head.
    MOTHER (1): You know, for a long time I never thought I could be a mother. There were complications, I had to have made me infertile.
    (2): My husband suggested adoption.

    PANEL 5: Closer to the Mother's face, tears starting to form in her eyes.

    MOTHER (1): I wasn't sure about it at first, if I could love a child from someone else as much as a child from my own body.
    (2): But when I saw her for the first time, when I got lost in those deep blue eyes of hers...

    PANEL 6: Same shot, the tears falling down her cheeks.

    MOTHER (1): I fell in love right there in the hospital.

    PANEL 7: The mother looks back up, her eyes steely and set.

    MOTHER (1): Do whatever it takes. I don't care what you have to do.
    (2): Just...just bring my little girl back to me.

    PANEL 8: Batgirl is climbing back over the window, head turned over to the mother as she's speaking.

    MOTHER (1): You know, it's funny.

    PANEL 9: The mother is standing up, her hand on Batgirl's cheek, looking straight at her, somehow even sadder than before.

    MOTHER (1): You have my daughter's eyes.

    PANEL 10: Batgirl is sitting inside of her Batmobile, her head resting on the steering wheel. She's pulled the mask off and sobbing.

    CAPTION: "I know."

  12. Page 22. Or 20, I guess, since this would be a DC book.

    We find Stephanie at the end of a long and arduous case where she has been confronted by someone who has been dressing up as different Batgirl rogues. The mystery man seems to know quite a lot about the many Batgirl, providing random tidbits and leaving hints about each figure he's dressed as. He has been going in reverse chronological order, working all his way back to the first, Killer Moth.

    For simplicity sake, the man will be referred to as Killer Moth in the script, though he isn't either of the known Moths.

    1 – A warehouse. It is, in fact, a perfect recreation of the original Cocoon (Killer Moth's Batcave). Batgirl is battered and bruised. Her costume is ripped and torn. The gauntlet Batgirl has gone through has been incredibly trying and she is worn down. Killer Moth fires his lazer gun (the same type from Batgirl: Year One) at Batgirl, who barely manages to get out of the way. The blast does, however, damage the Mothcopter behind her.

    KILLER MOTH: Did you know that the first Batgirl proved her worth fighting against Killer Moth?

    2 – The Mothcopter falls on Batgirl, pinning her in place. Killer Moth walks towards her. Oddly, he drops his gun.

    BATGIRL (weakly): who are you?

    KILLER MOTH: The answer's been in front of you from the beginning.

    3 – Killer Moth is quite close to Batgirl, standing a few paces away. He has his hands on his helmet, in the process of taking it off.

    KILLER MOTH: Hints and signs to lead you along, but you've been too obsessed with the mantles and heritages of others to recognize your own.

    4 – Now holding his helmet in his hands, Killer Moth is revealed to be the scarred visage of Arthur Brown, the Cluemaster. Her father before her, Stephanie is shocked, though too weak to do anything.

    CLUEMASTER: Leaving you without a clue.

    BATGIRL (weakly): d-dad?

    So, I recognize that the script has a similar thrust as Rol's, but I wrote this up before seeing what he'd posted. Hopefully we can go with a "great minds think alike" philosophy this time out.

  13. @Jared: Ten panels is a lot for a page (recommended 6-9) and you've put a lot of dialogue into those, which makes me think it would look very cramped. Especially those middle 8 which would only be 4x6cm. I know it's hard to trim great ideas, but it's the challenge we all face on this site :)

    Grant: I wouldn't worry about it. There's been plenty of times in the past when people have had similar ideas :)

  14. @Max Great pick, by the way. I am equally enamoured with Miss Stephanie Brown.

    @MK I lovelovelove this script! It reads almost exactly like the current run by Bryan Q. Miller. The back and forth between Stephanie and Damian is wonderfully executed, as are Stephanie's narrations.

    All that said, what I admire most about this script is the panel layout. I find myself to sometimes be rather catious with my layouts (or intentionally vague to let others figure it out for themselves), but your layout is exciting and bold. I see exactly what you're going for and want to read a finished version of that page.

    Great script, all around.

    @Jared I'm also quite impressed with what you were going for here. As Danial mentioned, it is a little on the long side for one page, but the idea and execution are still top notch. While working through ideas, a story about Stephanie's child hadn't even occured to me, but you knocked it out of the park. I would love to read an issue featuring this setup.

    @Danial That's a plus. I was a tad disheartened when I realized I'd been beaten to the proverbial punch, but figured it was different enough that it would be worth posting anyways.

  15. Jared - my Batgirl knowledge didn't stretch as far as knowing that Steph had put a child up for adoption (I did read about her pregnancy online but nowhere did they mention the resolution). As a result I was a little confused at first, but once it clicked what was happening you definitely have a strong set-up here, one that would push Batgirl further than ever. Like it.

    Grant - as Danial says, don't worry, it's not the first time it's happened (I purposely don't read anyone else's scripts till I've written my own most weeks... and then cross my fingers and hope). The idea of using Steph's Dad again in some way or other is an obvious one (I'm sure the current Batgirl writer will get round to it soon enough) and your way of doing so made perfect sense given the character's history.

  16. Coming Out

    Nine Panels, set in a 3-3-3 block. While the scene takes place inside Stephanie’s house, the dialogue is almost all off-panel and will take place in two types of caption boxes. CAPTION 1 is black writing on a purple background, indicating that STEPHANIE is talking. CAPTION 2 is black writing on a light blue-gray background, indicating that DICK is talking.

    Panel 1: Close up on an oven. The light is on, and inside a turkey is baking.

    CAPTION 1: I seriously can’t believe you’re making me do this.
    CAPTION 2: It’s a good idea.

    Panel 2: Smoke is leaking out of oven. A leg is visible at the edge of the frame.

    CAPTION 1: Bruce wouldn’t put me through this.
    CAPTION 2: Bruce and his trust issues are in Malaysia. You’re stuck with me.

    Panel 3: CRYSTAL, Stephanie’s mother is crouched in front of the oven, pulling the turkey out.

    CAPTION 1: Nyeah.

    Panel 4: Pull out to a wider view of the kitchen. A few scattered thanksgiving decorations lie around the room. A sparse cornucopia on the table. A few hand-turkeys, a crumpled pilgrim hat. CRYSTAL drops the smoking turkey onto the counter, hasty to get the burning dish out of her hands.

    CAPTION 2 (1): Stephanie…Some bad things are coming down the line. If anything happens, she deserves to know.
    CAPTION 2 (2): Are you afraid she’ll make you stop?

    Panel 5: CRYSTAL is checking her watch, her brow furrowed. She’s clearly worried. Stephanie is late.

    CAPTION 1: Oh, come on. She couldn’t make me quit if she tried. It’s just…she’d worry. You know.
    CAPTION 2: My parents used to fling me back and forth fifty feet above the ground. Nightly.

    Panel 6: Shot from behind CRYSTAL. Her head’s turned towards the door. She’s heard someone.

    CAPTION 1: Ny--.

    Panel 7: Same angle, but CRYSTAL has the door open. STEPHANIE (civilian clothes) and DICK (Batman suit) are standing outside. STEPHANIE is turned around sticking her tongue out at DICK, who is looking directly at CRYSTAL, eyes wide.

    STEPHANIE: -eah.

    Panel 8: Same shot. STEPHANIE is half-turned around, looking at Crystal, eyes wide. Tongue still sticking out.

    No dialogue.

    Panel 9: Same image as Panel 8.

    STEPHANIE (1): Mom, Batman.
    STEHPANIE (2): Batman, Mom.

  17. @MK - seriously, mate, you've won this week. Congratulations. That script really is unreal. I love it. It's one of the few I have read more than once. Love it.

    @Grant - good idea and well executed.

    @Jared - editing this one down is possible, you just need to hunt for the dialogue that is absolutely necessary, the rest can go, you'll find that page manageable at 6 panels, easily. That's the challenge of being here, you've got a great concept there, really good in fact, but it must be boiled down. Sometimes, due to one page restraints, that means you can't have the whole thing present, no matter how much you like it. You might only fit the set up, or the pay off, but sometimes it's not both - we can't be greedy, though we often are;)

    @Aryeh - This page works for me because I imagine the panels as being really small and still having lots of emotion and character in them. Bonus points if you ever get Amanda Conner to draw this one for you.

  18. Scha-weet!

    *Does victory dance*

    Do I win a prize? :-P

    @ Aryeh: It's a nice idea, and nicely put together, too. I've actually wondered if Steph might actually let her mom know about her secret life, and this wouldn't be a bad way of doing it.

    I'm particularly a fan of "Bruce and his trust issues are in Malaysia." That just says so much about 'classic' Batman right there.

    I suppose the double 'nyeh's with Steph and her tongue are cute, too.

  19. @MK: Prize? When I was a play-at-homer, I saw the prize as possible tenureship... and look where I am now ;)

  20. Aryeh - that's a very strong script, full of characterisation and with a powerful pay-off. I enjoyed it so much, I read it twice. I could tell exactly who was talking in each panel even though the 1s and 2s got a bit confusing. Might have worked better just to write CAP (Steph) and CAP (Dick).

  21. @jared: That page is packed to the gills, and outside of an over-sized format just wouldn't fit in the text.

    ON THE OTHER HAND: BLOODY HELL! The concept and execution here would be great, if not perfect if spread over multiple pages. Loving that about it.

    @grant: You have a pretty good grip on cliffhangers, and this one is no exception. Love it. Good job drawing on both the history of Stephanie and the greater batgirl legacy.

    @aryeh: I like this script, it works and it's entertaining and the lines are TIGHT, though I think you'd do better if you addressed the captions as to who they are throughout, rather than just dealing with it at the start. it's only a little thing, but it can make all the difference in how you read to an editor or artist.


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