Harper Row: 1992 - 2013
Without a mother to care for them, Harper and her younger brother Cullen were forced to live with their negligent father who would often wind up in Blackgate or the County Jail… and that was when they were lucky.
When he was around, Marcus Row was an all-around bad dad who had the habit of breaking things when he was drunk or upset. Maybe because of this, Harper got good at general repair and eventually found out she had a knack for electronics, even rigging up some car batteries to their apartment heater during the brutal winter of 2008 when the city was without power.
It was during that winter that fifteen year old Harper discovered that her father had engaged in looting and had even tried to join Great White Shark's crew. When the city’s civic infrastructure was returned, Harper was the first emancipation request filled. After getting her GED, a new apartment in the Narrows, and an apprenticeship at the Gotham Electric Company, Harper moved her brother Cullen in with her. Shortly after moving to the Narrows, Harper discovered that her brother’s classmates had been bullying Cullen since she had left school.
When Cullen came home with a broken nose and “FAG” shaved into the back of his head, Harper began taking her lunch late so she could walk Cullen home from school. The ploy worked for a time, but it only stalled the bullies’ bloodlust. One evening the boys actually broke into the Rows’ apartment and attacked the siblings, shaving Harper’s head, and forcing her brother to drink bleach. Fortunately, as Harper was losing consciousness from her beating, she saw the figure of Batman in the doorway.
Bluebird: 2013 - Present
After having been unconscious during Batman’s rescue of herself and her brother, Harper woke up in the Park Row Clinic to learn that her brother had been hospitalized but his condition had been stabilized. After her brother awoke and describe their rescue in detail, the two siblings decided that they would honor Batman, with Cullen wanting to get a “Batman” tattoo and Harper determined to do much more than that. When she returned to work, Harper used her position to access the city’s camera network in an attempt to watch Batman in action.
In her efforts to install bypass circuits in the cameras around the city, Harper learned that Batman (or a sexy redhead in his employment) had rigged the city’s camera feeds to “conveniently” recalibrate themselves whenever it picked up a signal from a portable device.
After illegally dismantling a camera, Harper found some WayneTech hardware was responsible and being the bold young woman she is, she decided to hack into the network of the Wayne Foundation and add a couple names to the next gala’s invitation list. When she attended the event, she had the nerve to directly confront Bruce Wayne himself.
To sate the curious young woman’s… uh, curiosity, Bruce agreed to broker a meeting between her and Batman. I think Bruce was counting on her just wanting to thank the man who had saved her life, an autograph, maybe even a ride in the Batmobile. Whatever he was expecting, it certainly was not Harper showing up to the meeting in a homemade armored suit, packing a custom-made electromagnetic weapon, and calling herself “Bluebird”. To go further, she even had the nerve to claim she could improve MY camera-scrambling software (as if).
Well, long story short, Batman decided to accept her help on a trial basis, meaning we were all strictly on a codename basis with her. She was assigned the Narrows patrol routinely and cut her teeth in the rough neighborhood. Eventually, Harper proved her mettle and for it, we upgraded her and gave her the access codes to Batcaves 2 and 3. Another year later, she rescued Batman (Dick) from a hairy situation and got access to the Batcave, at the insistence of Alfred.
- Electrical Engineering: Harper has gained impressive experience with electronics which only compliments her natural technical nature. Having to fend for herself most of her life, Harper is exceptionally gifted at impromptu rewiring and repairs. Give her a workshop, and she'll make magic happen. Her skills are so great that Harold has asked her to show him a few tricks.
- Gadgetry: Harper has shown a mind for creating gadgetry. While not always the most sophisticated or pretty, you cannot argue their effectiveness.
- Computer Operation: If Tim or myself aren't available, Harper's the go-to computer whiz. Yes, I believe she's even more skilled than Bruce... well, as long as the computer in question was created after the turn of this last century.
- Firearms: Bluebird packs heat in the form of a special rail gun she herself created which fires no less than twelve different types of propellant (most of them less-lethal), named "Lullaby", Harper is exceptionally talented in its use and remarkably accurate with it. She also is skilled in the use of two zip-guns she has made as well as back-up weaponry, calling them the "Gnarly Sisters".
- Urban Survival: Harper and her brother barely have a family. Despite having the odds against them, the two manage to survive in the concrete jungle of Gotham. She knows the back-alleys and maintenance tunnels of Gotham City better than anyone else I know, except maybe Jason Todd.
- Martial Arts: Harper can hold her own against your average thug, but this is definitely where she needs most improvement.
- Weaponry: In addition to her guns, Harper has outfitted her outfit with a number of other weapons, like shock-discharging gloves, an electrified mask (ideal for delivering headbutts), and collapsible taser-batons.
- Authority Issues: While she takes orders from Batman without (too much) problem, Harper is known to scoff at demands given to her by others in positions of authority, namely police officers. She was such a pain in the ass that my dad banned her from the Bat Signal.
- Inexperience: Without her weapons at her disposal, Harper's lack of experience in close combat shows. She is getting better but this is definitely a vulnerability in her arsenal.
Trivia and Notes
- Harper has admitted to me that she had a crush on Tim Drake and Stephanie Brown, but insists that is no longer the case.
- As she genuinely enjoys agitating John Constantine, Harper likes to hang out at the Wheelhouse in Slaughter Swamp.
- Harper claims her favorite superhero is Batman, but I think she actually likes Black Canary more.
- Harper is allergic to shellfish.
- Absolutely hating being called a "sidekick", Harper can become quite argumentative with anyone who calls her that... except for Jason Todd, in which case she actually seems flattered.
- Her address is a nod to her first comic book appearance: Batman, Vol. 2 #1 in November, 2011 and her creators: Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo.
- Roy explains Harper's sexual orientation: I have actually thought about this myself, as I am curious how to write her. For the time being, I've decided she is sexually ambiguous. Her life recently has been tied up in taking care of Cullen, her day job, and her life as Bluebird... so she has had little time for dating or romance. I don't believe she is 100% lesbian as she has seemed to have an attraction to Tim Drake on occasion... Though, she obviously has an open mind toward all sexual orientations, so maybe she is bisexual.