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Monday, September 29, 2014 

LA Times article on Batman's 75th anniversary

The LA Times wrote about the conference on Batman's 75th anniversary at Long Beach's comicon. One part of note here is their commentary on what they plan for Barbara Gordon:
Babs Tarr, the new artist on the redesigned “Batgirl,” which begins with the Oct. 8 release of No. 35, said she’d been warned by her writer collaborator Cameron Stewart to prepare for the worst when the more buoyant, less grim look and direction of Barbara Gordon was revealed to fans months ago.

But rather than howls of protest, the changes were met with, as Tarr put it, “an outpouring of love and support.”
On the surface, that's something to be glad about. But this being a company still run behind the scenes by Dan DiDio, it could all be a smokescreen for the opposite, and for all we know, there could be something very PC taking place that ruins everything.

They also bring up the new lesbian Batwoman:
“Batwoman” writer Marc Andreyko, who took over that title after J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman left last year, has also changed his heroine’s circumstances. Notably, as he acknowledged, Kate has split from her partner Maggie (whom the previous creative team had planned she would marry) – “things change – nothing lasts forever,” Andreyko said. But he’s also worked on integrating her more into the DC Universe.

[...] “The book’s getting really, really weird,” he said. Next month’s “Issue 35 – spoiler alert – takes place in outer space,” he added, and noted that it is the series debut of artist Georges Jeanty (“Serenity: Leaves on the Wind”).
I wonder why they won't bring up DC's bewildering announcement they don't want their cast to be married, not even same-sex, nor why they don't want them leading happy lives? I assume the moratorium on heterosexual weddings satisfies them enough to let it slide? And why must Batwoman be sent into space? I thought it had been decided long ago that didn't jibe well with the Bat-cast on their own?

One good thing worthy of attention they do bring up here is the original death of Jason Todd and what Marv Wolfman thinks of that part:
Marv Wolfman, whose desire to keep the original Robin, Dick Grayson, in his “Teen Titans” series in the 1980s prompted DC to design a new one, Jason Todd, co-created the popular Tim Drake to replace Todd after fans elected to kill off the latter in an infamous phone vote.

The writer said Todd’s fate shouldn’t have been decided like that, but that, given the chance to create a new Robin while writing “Batman” in the late ’80s, he decided to try out a different concept: “I wanted him to have a normal upbringing” – and who wanted to be Robin. So Tim Drake got a normal, still-living family – though he did have the trauma of being a child at the circus the night his predecessor Dick Grayson’s aerialist parents were killed during a performance (key to his subsequent deduction as a child of who Batman and Robin are under the masks). Wolfman credited Chuck Dixon and subsequent writers for Drake’s popularity.
It's good they brought that up, because Jason's fate shouldn't have been decided through a whole lot of strangers calling in over the phone. It's corrupting, giving certain segments of society the impression it's fun to try and kill off an imaginary character who never roughed them up in real life. The real fault lies in the hands of the writers/editors who failed to characterize Jason better, nor did they take responsibility by explaining to the audience that they the writers are the guilty party for any bad personality traits coming from Jason. And even then, some of those audience members blaming Jason literally have to be faulted to boot, because, following any and all poor characterization, they crossed a giant X over him, declaring him a pariah figure over something that was no fault of his own till the end of time, and decreed no writer may make improvements. This may have been the case with Danny Chase in the New Titans too: although Wolfman tried to make improvements, a certain segment of readers refused to accept that character no matter what, and Wolfman finally caved in and killed him off. He didn't even try quietly dropping Chase from the cast into limbo, which might have to count as another mistake.

Killing off Jason wasn't necessarily bad in itself, but if it had to be done, it should all be up to the writing staff to decide, and readers shouldn't be enticed into engaging in something near perverse. Some of the history articles I read about the phone stunt said it wasn't a large number of callers en toto and there were multiple votes by the same people, proving plenty of those who did vote more than once in favor of Jason's death thought it was a lot of fun. But it's not. At worst, it panders to low denominators.

On the positive side, yes, 3rd Robin Tim Drake fared better in characterization, but they didn't have to resort to publicity stunts just to get there.

Now, nearly 3 decades later, Jason's been resurrected, yet this time, they don't know what to do with him except portray him as some kind of mindless rogue.

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Regarding Chase, it was pointed out to me in Linkara's Titans Retrospective that Jay Faerber intended on having him be Epsilon in his original pitch for his run on Titans before then editor Andy Helfer vetoed it in favor of the DEO kids (and Helfer wasn't a Titans fan t begin with!).

Not a day goes but that I curse Levitz and co. for putting Helfer as editor on the title. Danny could've been redeemed in the eyes of the very same segment of famdom who were no more gainst him as they were to Jason (much to Mike Barr and Alan Davis' efforts in their Detective Comics run.)

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