In the Batman universe, things get shaken up a bit in November after Bruce Wayne returns. For the Batgirl title that means the title enters its second year with a new artist and a bit of a new attitude.
Stephanie Brown became the new Batgirl last summer as the title launched in the wake of the Batman mantle being picked up by Dick Grayson. With screenwriter Bryan Q. Miller (Smallville) at the helm, the title introduced Steph in her new role with the help of a former Batgirl, Barbara Gordon.
Beginning with November's Batgirl #15, Dustin Nguyen takes over as penciler on the series. And as the character enters her second year, we talked with Miller to find out more about the changes coming to Batgirl after Bruce Wayne's return.
Newsarama: What was your main goal for the first year of Batgirl, and do you think you've accomplished it?
Bryan Q. Miller: My main goal, starting out with the comic, was to get Steph on her own two feet and establish her as a character that could be a leading lady in her own book. It's a smaller book in the corner of the Bat-universe, but we wanted to get it to the point where people could see Batgirl and know it was Stephanie Brown. We wanted to get her some notoriety and a reputation as Batgirl, both with the readers and with the characters. And hopefully, we've been able to do that.
Nrama: How does the overall tone of the comic change as you head into the next year?
Miller: Now, as we enter the next year of issues, things are going to be a little more chaotic for Batgirl and little more dangerous for her. Her tone won't change. You won't see Steph going hardcore on people, and there will still be lightness and humor in the book. But the situations will be a little more dangerous.
Nrama: You've also established a supporting cast for the character. Will that continue into her second year?
Miller: Absolutely. Everyone who's been established as Steph's supporting cast will continue in the book. There were some people we set up early, in the first six issues, who dropped out for that last run, like Francisco and Jordanna. But you always had Babs, and the addition of Wendy, who will continue to be a big part of the book.
In the second year, we'll see more of Steph in college than you did in the first year. There isn't as much "meet-and-greet" with the Bat-family, so that gives us a chance to flesh out Stephanie's life at college. You'll see more Francisco and more Jordanna. You'll see her mom more as we play up her home life. And you'll see some new characters too.
Nrama: You don't have a comic coming out in October because of the "Return of Bruce Wayne" one-shots, but you're writing the Batgirl issue in that event. Does that tie into the ongoing series?
Miller: Definitely. There isn't a book in the sense that there's not a numbered part of the series in October, but it's still within the context of the Batgirl book. It's an in-continuity book that concentrates on the return of Bruce Wayne.
It stands as its own tale. But it also ties into the month-long event.
Nrama: What does that one issue represent?
Miller: I can't say too much about it because it's so entrenched in the event for the month. But you'll see some of the impact Bruce's return may or may not have in Stephanie's life, right up front in that issue.
Nrama: What does Dustin's addition to the series bring to the style of the comic?
Miller: He brings a little more edge with his style. And given that her next year is going to be a little bit more dangerous, his style definitely fits.
Nrama: The next storyline, beginning in November, is called "The Lesson." What cane you tell us about the mysterious "Order of the Scythe" that shows up in this storyline?
Miller: They are the source of a lot of her problems in the next big run. They'll be the thorn in her side in year two.
Nrama: Does Stephanie interact with the two Batmen or any of these other heroes running around now that the new Batman books are being added?
Miller: There aren't that many folks that will wander through, especially given how heavy we were in the past year with other guest stars from the Bat-family coming in to challenge her role. Since she's kind of cemented it at this point, they'll leave her alone for the most part.
That said, I am going to try to get Damian Wayne in there at some point once or twice.
There will also be some DC guest stars coming in throughout the course of the year, so we're kind of broadening her connections with the hero community at large.
Nrama: How has Stephanie herself grown in the last year?
Miller: Her confidence is definitely higher than it was when we started, but this year is going to challenge that. She's gotten more "on her feet," so to speak, and she's moving into her second year of college. Like with anyone who goes to college, your social groups start to change. Who your friends are starts to change. You get pulled into a bunch of different directions ideology-wise. So she'll have that problem encroaching on both sides of her life.
And then Barbara will have the Birds back up and running, so she'll have her attention divided between the two. So Steph will have guidance from time to time, but not as often as she would like. Even though she is able to stand on her own two feet, she is friends with Barbara at this point, so that relationship will be strained.
Nrama: Will we see more of Johnny C?
Miller: Yes, and we'll find out that's not his real name. You should see that toward the end of the year. We'll get some answers about Nick's life and more about that part of the story.
Nrama: And we'll see more of Wendy?
Miller: Yeah, Proxy will be part of the series from time to time. Wendy is, in a way, just as reckless as Stephanie could be. She's someone who has a very similar handicap to Oracle, but she's not dealing with it as well as Oracle is. So there is some tension coming in the relationship between Wendy and Steph that they'll have to work out.
Nrama: Are you working on any other projects for DC?
Miller: I've got a short in the DC Halloween Special, which I'm very excited about. It was nice to get outside the Batman wheelhouse for a few pages. There's also another project I'm working on that is an anthology of sorts that is very removed from DC. Not that I don't love DC, but I do have this other project I'm doing.