Over the last few weeks we have seen those threads woven back together to some extent, and a few plot lines have actually finished (for now, presumably). During that six month span though there has been a long game being played with the reintroduction of fan favorite character, Stephanie Brown. Over these past few months she has been introduced alongside her mother and father, the villainous Cluemaster. In that time Stephanie has managed to uncover many secrets about her supervillain father, and she continues to learn more and more about his gestating plot to bring Gotham to its knees.
Here in Batman Eternal #24 we get a story focused entirely on Stephanie, who has donned the costume of her first pre-New 52 identity, Spoiler. In this issue we find Steph hanging out in the rafters of a warehouse where her father is meeting his boss, someone Steph had no idea existed. During her time spent eavesdropping on the villains, we are shown a flashback scene that foreshadows Steph's tumultuous relationship with her father, long before he became the Cluemaster. During the course of the conversation, Cluemaster reveals to his boss the intricacies of his ongoing plan to ruin Gotham's infrastructure, everything from the slow but inevitable degradation of the city's municipal services, all the way up to his plan for increasing security measures for his boss via the corrupt GCPD.
Following a brief interlude into what is going on with Batman currently, the story shifts back to Stephanie. It's here that we get our first glimpse of the kind of hero Stephanie will eventually become (we hope), as she takes on her father face-to-face. Stephanie shows how daring she is, how cunning she can be and just how far she's willing to go to stop the violence in her city, starting with her own father. It probably doesn't hurt that he's trying to kill her on orders from his boss either.
This issue is the triumphant return that Stephanie Brown fans have been waiting years for, and I was on my feet by the end of it. Congratulations Stephanie fans, we finally have our girl back in action, and it is just too sweet!
As much as I love Barbara Gordon and Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown is my favorite of the girls who have proudly worn the cape and cowl over the last 50 years, and it is so satisfying to read a story like this again. The wait has been excruciating, but at least Steph came back in style. Now, if I can just get Donna Troy back...
Stephanie Brown fans, there is no reason on earth you should read this issue of Batman Eternal, it is everything you wanted it to be.