Batgirls Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain, along with Red Robin Tim Drake — from before the New 52 reboot — are getting a new "ending" for their story.
In Convergence: Batgirl, writer Alisa Kwitney is getting the chance to reunite the three characters. The two-issue series will pit Steph against the Flashpoint version of Catman and Gorilla Grodd — but it will also give DC fans the chance to check out Kwitney's work before she launches a new ongoing series in June, tentatively titled Mystic U.
Newsarama talked with Kwitney to find out more about the two-issue tie-in series — and why Tim and Cass become a "complication" for Steph.
Newsarama: Alisa, what interested you about writing Stephanie Brown Batgirl? What was it about revisiting this character that appealed to you as a writer?
Alisa Kwitney: Stephanie Brown is not a tortured character. She’s tough and resilient and funny and a little impulsive, and even when truly awful things happen to her, she rebounds.
Nrama: Have you been a fan of these Bat-characters in the past? What stories about them do you particularly like, or have you used as inspiration?
Kwitney: Once I began doing research to prep for writing, I was hooked. I wanted Cassandra and Tim to join Stephanie, because I thought they were all really good foils for one another.
There were a few stories in particular that I really enjoyed reading that informed my writing: Steph as the Spoiler and Tim in the early days of their romance, Cassandra as Black Bat and Tim have a really violent fight where it appears that she has killed him. I didn’t read an issue of Cass training Steph, but I was aware it had happened, and all that went into the writing stew.
I loved the fact that Steph and Tim have romantic baggage, and Cass and Steph are really good friends, and Cass and Tim are really good friends. As a writer, I like playing with romantic tension, but I also find friendship interesting. Friendship is often depicted as static and safe (unless it turns into a romance), but the truth is, friendship has its own tensions and its own rewards.
Nrama: This version of Stephanie Brown had her story cut short when the New 52 reboot happened. What are you hoping to add to the story of Stephanie?
Kwitney: First and foremost, I just want to tell a good Stephanie story – or at least, as good a Steph story as I can tell. I suppose I also want to end her story in a way that feels satisfying.
Nrama: Before we talk about how you end Steph's story, let's talk about the art. What does Rick Leonardi, the penciller, bring to the story?
Kwitney: Rick's an amazing storyteller. There was one scene where I was going to have a crowd of people staging a protest that turns ugly, and Rick pointed it out it made a lot more sense to have the crowd trying to head for a bridge or tunnel. I thought that was brilliant. And, of course, his art looks terrific!
Nrama: OK, then let's dive into the story description. What's the set-up as we meet Steph, Cass and Tim in Convergence?
Kwitney: We’re in Gotham, about a year after the Dome has come down [over the city], cutting the city off from the rest of the world. Steph has hung up her mask and cape and is working as a medic when the story begins. She’s living with Cassandra, who patrols as Black Bat, but even though Cass and Tim are working together, Steph and Tim basically have no contact.
Nrama: OK, so Cassandra is Black Bat. What else can you tell us about her role in this story?
Kwitney: Cassandra is Stephanie’s best friend, her mentor – and in some sense, she’s also the competition. Not in a romantic sense, but in the sense that Stephanie feels that Cassandra was the stronger Batgirl.
Nrama: Ah, I see. Both these characters have very vocal fans, who are dying to see them retuned to the DCU. Why do you think characters like Steph and Cass are such loyal fan-favorites?
Kwitney: Stephanie Brown is one of the rare superheroes able to laugh at herself. You could go out for cheeseburgers and fries with Steph. You could laugh at the Super Bowl commercials with her.
Cassandra is the complete opposite: She’s the silent assassin, so contained you never really know what she’s thinking. She’s a type you see more often in male form, but her friendship with Stephanie humanizes her. They’re like Kirk and Spock.
Nrama:What's it like to write Red Robin in your story? This picks up after Tim and Steph's relationship ended?
Kwitney: Yeah, Red Robin and Batgirl had a relationship, but when Stephanie stopped being Batgirl, Tim didn’t know how to keep the connection going.
He starts out the story trying to help Stephanie, but she interprets everything he says as criticism.
As for what it was like writing him, well, it’s always fun for me to get into the guy’s head, because in real life, I’m stuck in a female body.
Nrama: So, if Cass is a medic… what are you getting to highlight about the character through this story?
Kwitney: Steph is chosen as one of Gotham’s champions. She’s not just surprised – she’s a little freaked out. First of all, she’s out of practice. Second, she feels that even when she was in top form, Cassandra and Tim were the abler fighters.
This story is about Stephanie realizing what it is about her that makes her the right choice.
Nrama: When you say the city needs champions, what's the main threat she's facing?
Kwitney: She’s up against Catman, who has been chosen as one of the champions of his city (Flashpoint Gotham). But the big hairy guy on the cover (Gorilla Grodd) is a major complication – and in a different way, so are Cassandra and Tim.