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On the first day of NYCC, I spotted one of the staples of a modern convention: a Stephanie Brown cosplayer.

For those of you who don’t know, Stephanie Brown Batgirl has become something of a statement at cons, a symbol of protest against the way DC has handled its tone and its female characters since their New 52 reboot.

Needless to say I asked her for a picture.

The next day I saw her again, standing between the rows of DC’s Batman panel.

After the panel I caught up with Steph and asked her a few questions.

(Update: Though she was with the same Cassandra Cain cosplayer I had seen there, I later found out that it had been the Stephanie Brown ahead of her who actually asked the question. If ever you doubt the power of the Stephanie Brown cosplayer, know that when DC tells one to interrupt a panel that there will be one ahead of them)

I started with the most obvious, “How does it feel to hear that Steph is coming back?”

“You know, I’ll tell you something. In 2011 I decided I was going to come to San Diego Comic-Con and I wanted to dress as Stephanie Brown Batgirl. And I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off. I wasn’t very confident – I really wasn’t. And I had gotten to the point where I didn’t think there wasn’t enough time to make the costume and I didn’t think I could pull it off and I wasn’t going to do it. And then they broke that the New 52 was going to happen. And I was heart-broken. And I said, “that’s it, I’m going to wear the costume, I’m going to go to the convention, I’m going to show my love for this character in the most tangible obvious way that I possibly can; by dressing as this character. And then I ended up asking those questions at the convention and it turned into a huge amazing story.”

I admit that I was a little bit psyched to have been at this panel and to have gotten to this woman first, but somehow I still hadn’t fully put two and two together yet. I was part way into asking what it felt like to be the one to ask the question for the last time when she realized and flat-out told me, “I am Kyrax2.”

If I hadn’t started to put the dates together in my head already, that would have pretty much blown my mind. This was THE Batgirl of San Diego. Suddenly her story seemed that much more beautiful, the circle that much fuller.

She continued:

“The thing that is really amazing to me is I did that – I went to show my love – and I felt at the time like it didn’t make any difference because they were very determined to do this New 52 thing and bring Barbara Gordon back as Batgirl, which I felt was a such huge mistake, and frankly I still do, and it was a thing – they were going to do this thing. And many other things came out and happened at that time and it was very exciting, but I felt like Stephanie Brown was never gonna be brought back. And especially after last year – you know I wore it again last year and I’d asked again and I was told even by Grant Morrison that he wasn’t allowed to use her and her hair was recolored. It was crazy. So I was like, that’s it she’s never coming back. I was just really feeling very sort of disconnected and unhappy about it.

And then they said today that she’s coming back and I’m of course thrilled, but I think the thing that thrills me the most is that Scott Snyder sat up there and said that it was because of our love – we the fans – and our passion that they’re bringing her back because that’s what I set out when I wore that costume in the first place to convey and to do is to say “I love this character and I don’t want her to disappear.” And so the fact that they’re bringing her back now – it feels like they’re coming full circle.”

It was a beautiful and moving tribute to the love that had motivated this small-scale revolution. I couldn’t help but respond.

“If you don’t mind, I just want to say: the story about you not being there and not being sure you could do it – I think that’s exactly what Stephanie Brown is here for.”

I worried that I’d overstepped my bounds, that I should have held tighter to journalistic objectivity, but she just smiled and answered “I think you’re right.”

There’s a lot of anger in comics, and oftentimes there’s cause for a lot of anger, but the look on her face at the end, the cheer in the room when it was announced: it’s nice when the hate shrinks down and we’re left with the love that brings us together to places like this.

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