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Tuesday, August 05, 2014 

Unlikely that Spoiler's return will be rendered successfully

Newsarama recently wrote about Batman: Eternal, which features a New 52 rendition of Stephanie Brown, and told some history of what happened a decade ago, when a DiDio-led staff decided they rejected Chuck Dixon's visions:
Yet while readers were admiring her tenacity and snarky dialogue, DC editors were planning to end Steph's story violently — a plan that was set into motion when writer Bill Willingham was hired for Robin.

"I knew coming into the Robin series that Spoiler was doomed to die," Willingham told WordBalloon. "And I wouldn’t have done that, but that was already locked in even before I came on Robin, so I had no point at which to say you shouldn’t do this.

"But, I did I have this hair-brained idea that, well, if she was going to die — she was such a frustrated character…I mean, everything she wanted out of life she pretty much didn’t get. So, can we give her one little reward before she dies and let her become Robin for awhile?"

Sure enough, Stephanie Brown became Batman’s first female Robin—the Girl Wonder. But it only lasted a few issues, with Batman citing her recklessness as he took away the Robin mantle. Soon after, the character was brutally murdered by a villain during the "War Game" crossover event in 2004.

"There was a nice spike in sales during [the time she was Robin] and I wish her death hadn’t been so as locked in, because when it started going really well, what I would have liked to have said was ‘let’s follow this for awhile,'" but that wasn't an option, Willingham said.
I'd be able to take Willingham a lot more seriously if he'd mention how the mandate for turning Jean Loring into a new Eclipso in Day of Vengeance, very soon after that horror called Identity Crisis, and the "revelation" Dr. Leslie Thompkins let Stephanie die by refusing to operate on her, were clearly locked in to boot. He himself admitted he didn't have a serious problem writing up such a repellent idea for Thompkins. And if he knew what editorial wanted but disagreed, why did he take the jobs in the first place? Obviously, he couldn't resist the paycheck. It makes little difference whether you're an intern or a hired hand; morality and honor should take some kind of priority, and he didn't present that.

To make matters worse, even the story he turned out with a girl Robin was terrible, and he practically admits it: he depicted her acting recklessly. I'm sorry, but that does little more than serve as a justification for wiping her out. Even if this is what they wanted, that doesn't mean the ladies shouldn't be depicted heroically and honorably. Sarah Essen's death in No Man's Land may not have been a good idea, but at least she by contrast had a more heroic role than what Stephanie got in War Games.

Even after Stephanie's fate was reversed in 2007, DiDio was making every effort to find an excuse to throw her out again (and to keep her out of some licensed products), and we shouldn't be surprised if they'll continue this insult even now. The saddest part, naturally, is that by this time, I'm sure there's Spoiler fans who've become so disenchanted with DC as a whole, they can't be bothered to buy a book that could easily reek of editorial mandates. And who could blame them: DiDio is still lurking in the background, and singlehandedly alienates.

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I don't know why any self-respecting comics fan would buy the New 52 crap. Too much of it reads like juvenile fanfiction, just like Marvel's current output.

Let's see. Before she was Spoiler, Stephanie Brown was the third Batgirl and the fourth Robin. Or was it the other way around? And Huntress/Helena Bertinelli was briefly Batgirl, so Stephanie would be the fourth. Fifth, if you count Betty Kane, who was Bat-Girl ca. 1960. But the 1985 Crisis series retconned Betty and a lot of other characters out of existence. Except a new version of Betty ("Bette") Kane was Flamebird. Make that Flamebird #2, since Jimmy Olsen was #1. (And Superman was Nightwing #1, before Dick Grayson outgrew being Robin #1 and became Nightwing #2.) And Stephanie was tortured to death, and Dr. Leslie Thompkins withheld treatment that could have saved her. No, she didn't, Stephanie survived and Leslie faked her death to protect her. (Actually, I don't object to the latter revision/revelation, since it means Leslie Thompkins was not an insensitive jerk after all.) And Barbara Gordon is miraculously cured and can be Batgirl again. Imagine explaining all of that to someone who hasn't read comics before, and who only knows the characters from movies and TV. Or who read comics as a child, but hasn't read any in many years.

The confusing retcons and reboots, constant shuffling of characters' identities, and pointless changes are why comics can't even hold on to their old fans, let alone attract new ones.

Odds that they make Spoiler a transvestite boy just to flip the bird at Dixon?

(Hope I didn't just give Didio and company an idea. Not like they've had one before on their own...)

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