Robot 6

SDCC ’12 | Stephanie Brown fan stymied in search for answers

“But there was art!”

If you’re a Stephanie Brown looking to get to the bottom of a rumor about your favorite character, you’d think the best place to go for answers would be today’s DC Comics Superman panel at Comic-Con International. But you’d be wrong.

According to Comic Book Resources’ report, a fan dressed as Stephanie Brown approached the microphone to ask whether the character would appear as Nightwing next month in the digital-first Smallville Season 11, as the publisher announced last month, or whether there was truth to the rumor that she is being replaced by Barbara Gordon. Unfortunately for the fan, writer Bryan Q. Miller wasn’t on the panel as scheduled (he arrived late to San Diego), and the response she did receive was … let’s say unhelpful, and maybe a little flippant.

“The first rumor wasn’t known by us,” DC’s Vice President of Marketing John Cunningham replied, “and I have not heard of the second in the halls of DC, so I can’t comment.”

“But there was art!” the fan shot back.

“Are you going to believe art or are you going to believe us?” Superman writer Scott Lobdell said to the laughter of the audience. Cunningham gave her a Court of Owls mask, so that’s something.

If you listen closely, those sounds you hear are frustrated Stephanie Brown fans screaming out in unison, and then cramming more waffles into envelopes addressed to DC Comics.

Miller, who wrote the character in the previous volume of Batgirl, told Comic Book Resources last month that he decided to introduce her as Batman’s sidekick in Smallville because, “I felt I couldn’t get any deeper into this without having Stephanie somewhere. This is the Stephanie that people who read Batgirl came to know and love. Not much of her has changed. She’s just wearing a different costume. Choosing Nightwing as opposed to Robin just seemed like the nice kind of take we’d have done on the show so it’s not exactly the same thing as the comics because there are a bunch of other comics where you can get that. We’re doing our own take, which isn’t too far from, in quotation marks, ‘how it’s supposed to be,’ but it’s our little corner of the world.”

Batman and Nightwing are announced to be introduced online in Smallville Season 11 in August, and then in print in September.

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Comments

54 Comments

You know I love Stephanie Brown, but this whole fiasco is kind of hilarious.

Non-Issue. You guys pushed the rumors here too. You owe people waffles. Next article should be “How CBR and related comic book news sites trick Stephanie Brown fans into false hope and regretful spending”

The *writer* said she was in the book. That’s the sort of source you should be able to trust. Whoever’s fault this is, it’s not CBR’s,

Just kind of? This is absolutely awesome. The way Stephanie Brown fans have hammered at everyone like she was the only character to ever disappear in comics has turned me on the character. I hope this goes on forever.

KaraokeFanboy

July 13, 2012 at 3:55 pm

It’s more telling that DC need only recolor the art to make Nightwing a different character, like their characters are that visually interchangeable.

That was kyrax2. She was the Batgirl who got Dan Didio to backpedal about the whole “female creators” controversy at the launch of the New 52.

Yay, as if we need even more confirmation that Scott Lobdell is a giant dick.
I am going to be so angry if this rumour is true. Why on earth is DC so obsessed with Barbara Gordon?

Well, another DC-bashing excuse for an article from CBR. Nothing new here.

Rumor my ass. They flat out announced she was originally going to be in.

SB wrote “Why on earth is DC so obsessed with Barbara Gordon?”

They’re not. She’s simply Batgirl. The one that people remember. Steph is like a lot of characters that came from the low-selling late 90s / early 00s: A one-time replacement character / fill-in that road on the coattails of a pretty popular, decades-old brand name. Take away the brand name and all you have is a couple thousand hardcore, somewhat looney fans.

They’re virtually unknown outside said fanbase. Despite being a very well-received book, the Steph-as-Batgirl experiment was planned to end even before the reboot. At which point DC asked themselves, “Wouldn’t we be better off with the version of Batgirl virtually everyone knows?”

“They’re not. She’s simply Batgirl. The one that people remember. ”

What people? I’m 33 years old, and Babs has always been Oracle to me. I only know her as Batgirl from back issues older than I am.

“They’re virtually unknown outside said fanbase. ”

I’d say the same about Barbara Gordon.

@Duder: They are obsessed with the Barbara Gordon Batgirl.

And also, wouldn’t it make more sense for DC to have appealed to the Barbara fans, the Cass fans, and the Stephanie fans by including the latter two in the Batgirl book that Gail Simone is now writing? Steph could just as easily gone back to Spoiler and Cass was calling herself Black Bat.

It’s not so much that Steph isn’t calling herself Batgirl, or that Cass isn’t calling herself Batgirl, but because two viable and loved characters have been put on the bench simply because they shared a code name with another character. A character, mind you, that did more as a superhero and grew further after she stopped using that name due to unfortunate circumstances. And that Steph has been, once again, replaced in favor for Barbara Gordon.

Yeah, I don’t think something qualifies as a “rumor” when the series writer talks about it at length as fact in interviews. Like, Red Skull being the villain of Uncanny Avengers’ first arc is not a rumor – its what Rick Remender has told us. Same thing here.

However, I’m not ready to give up hope just yet. On the Stephanie Brown side, we have Bryan Q. Miller himself talking about it in an interview. For Barbara Gordon, we have unnamed sources from the comic con floor. Barring more official confirmation, I’m take a “wait until August” attitude.

@Duder, don’t, just don’t. You ask anyone outside of comics who Robin is and they’ll answer Tim Drake or Dick Grayson. Yet who is Robin? Oh, yeah, Damian Wayne, the kid of a woman who barely appears in popular media. Try explaining that to outsiders. Hell, most of them don’t even know about Jason. If you want to use the argument of ‘we’re going with the most well-known/popular interation of a character’ explain to me why John Stewart or Vixen or Wally or J’onn, etc, aren’t headlining their own books. These characters are from the JLU, which was incredibly successful and which is, to most people outside comics, their definitive DCU experience.

I would appreciate you not calling fans of a character who has been targeted ‘loony’ because, quite frankly, that tanks your argument. DC said specifically that Steph Brown would be in the book and now, at the last minute, they’re switching her with Barbara Gordon which makes no gosh darn sense. If people are paying for a service, which is all that comics are, an entertainment service, then they have every right to ask about these changes and expect that the creators will show them some respect since, you know, readers are paying their gosh darn paychecks.

“A fan dressed as Stephanie Brown” Wearing a blonde wig and a hoodie? The Spoiler costume? The Robin costume? The Batgirl costume? Did she have a name tag that said ‘Stephanie Brown’? It’s not as if she’s a definitive character. I’m amused by the fact that people are incensed that she’s possibly being ‘replaced’ by Barbara Gordon when she was going to be replacing Dick Grayson in the Nightwing role just as she’s replaced almost every other Bat character at some point or another, despite having first appeared as a singular character. And I LIKED the Miller StephGirl, but I’m not obsessed with her being ‘missing’ any more than Conner Kent, Donna Troy, or the Barbara Gordon who was intelligent.

Damn you Didio!

How many screw ups before he is let go? smdh

@Kenn: I believe people are “incensed” because they were promised one thing only to be jerked around. Plus, no one in charge seems capable of providing a straight answer to a simple question. If Steph was never going to appear in the Smallville comic, then I’m sure her fans would have coped. The writer of the comic, Bryan Q. Miller and several entertainment news sources (e.g. TV Guide, CBR), however, confirmed Stephanie would be appearing in the comic’s upcoming “Detective” series. Now it seems likely it is Barbara not Stephanie who will be featured. What’s worse is that, despite being gracious in their responses, no one at the DC panel seemed to have a clue about what’s going on and thus appeared woefully unprepared to address fan concerns.

Why does it matter who is better known in popular media? DC has shown, time and again, a complete inability to capitalize on mass media superhero success stories. The general public doesn’t know or care who Batgirl is in the comics, so why try and appeal to an audience that doesn’t exist?

The funny/sad thing about this latest development in the Stephanie saga is that her fans had, for all intents and purposes (and for lack of a better word) “won”. Their favorite character was coming back and she was going to written by the only writer at DC who clearly cares for her.

BUT THAT WASN’T GOOD ENOUGH.

Instead of being happy, it seems the Stephanie fans (or at least the most militant and obsessed among them) decided that nothing less than Stephanie’s full return to the mainstream DCU would satisfy them. So they begin a silly waffle campaign and potentially screwed up what could have been a best-case scenario for themselves and the character they so adore.

So “congrats”, Stephanie fans! You couldn’t leave well enough alone, so now you have no one to blame for this latest debacle but yourselves.

@Mike H: Since when does engaging in a positive fan campaign warrant reneging on a promise? You can’t seriously be suggesting that it’s logical and understandable that DC would replace Stephanie with Barbara because Steph’s fans were too excited and too passionate.

@Lynn: That’s EXACTLY what I’m suggesting. Look, I’m a Ted Kord fan. I’d love to see him back in the Blue Beetle outfit. I’m also a Captain Carrot fan and Sugar & Spike fan. I think DC is missing a golden opportunity to recruit fans at a young age by ignoring those properties. I’ve expressed my thoughts to DC several times over the year, but I don’t beat them over the head or “demand” anything because that’s the surest way to get people who might have open minds to close them.

Stephanie fans HAD STEPHANIE BACK. BQM was going to be writing her adventures again. Maybe from your point of view the waffle campaign was somehow positive, but looking at it from DC’s perspective I can see how it might have seemed more annoying than anything else. Steph fans had Steph back but that wasn’t good enough. Instead of just being happy and allowing what could have been a first step toward something more play out, people jumped the gun.

If DC did decide that Stephanie can’t be in the Smallville book because of the waffle campaign, which we don’t know for sure yet because nothing has been either confirmed or denied, her fans have no one to blame but themselves. DC’s decision might seem childish on one hand, but it also seems to be a reaction to how if you give some people an inch, they’ll always always ALWAYS try to take a mile. I can see why DC wouldn’t want to encourage that sort of behavior.

I_Captain Blanco

July 13, 2012 at 5:30 pm

I don’t know where this “silly waffle campaign” is supposed to have come from, but I know for a fact that DC has yet to receive a single waffle.

“and the response she did receive was … let’s say unhelpful, and maybe a little flippant.”

Really? Flippant? Maybe the reaction to the response was oversensitive. If it was the same “Batgirl” from last year then she at least will have a few months to read about herself on comic sites like she did last year. Everybody take a deep breath and relax.

…and this thread is now reaching crisis point.

Matty Macomber

July 13, 2012 at 5:50 pm

@Duder – I don’t think there is *any* Batgirl that non-comics readers in the prime demographic market of 18-35 really know or consider the ‘real’ one.

I think the creators/editors who pushed that change back are confusing their nostalgia for what version of the character is “most iconic”… that’s just lovely media spin for “the version of the character I knew when I was 12 and got into comics is EXACTLY what 12 year olds today would be into as well.” It works the other way, too, as evidenced by no Martian Manhunter in the formation of this Justice League… his time as JLA mainstay was both before and after Jim Lee/Geoff Jones teen years,

I think. Barbara Gordon as librarian turned Oracle is a more useful type of hero in this developing information economy that today’s 12 year olds will be growing up in. The villainous fathers of Cassandra and Stephanie as part of why they became heroes are better story hooks for a Batgirl character. The Robin that most non-comics people know is Dick Grayson but DC shoehorns the idea that there are still four guys in the space of 5 years that Batman trained by having an internship program. Going out of their way to preserve the existence of 4 male characters but eliminating all but one of the women and fixing her disability undermines claims of increased diversity that won’t be undone by a black Etta Candy or gay Green Lantern.

Yeah, this is a tired rant. Sorry… just get the sense that DC creative leads are missing the boat on how to be culturally current while refurbishing the core stories of their universe.

@i_Captain Blanco – maybe because the campaign was to send them to coincided with Stephanie’s “rumored” (news of which. appeared in every comics blog and news outlet appearance) appearance in Smallville in August.

@mike H – Hmm, let’s see. DC claims today they didn’t know she was going to appear in Smallville and “it was a rumor” leading us to further believe they didn’t see the news coverage. But according to you they DID see the news coverage for the Waffles Campaign which mentioned the appearance her “rumored” appearance in Smallville and for that reason they pulled her “rumored” appearance in Smallville because they want to punish fans who run campaigns to get fan support for their characters. I think that might be too simplistic an explanation but that could be me.

“If DC did decide that Stephanie can’t be in the Smallville book because of the waffle campaign, which we don’t know for sure yet because nothing has been either confirmed or denied, her fans have no one to blame but themselves.”

I buy that DC editorial is full of middle-aged men with Silver Age nostalgia that colors their decisions. I don’t buy that they are petulant children who lash out at fans in response to positive feedback.

sandwich eater

July 13, 2012 at 6:10 pm

@Mike H. I don’t think guest-starring in a Smallville comic for one issue counts as a comeback. I assume that her hardcore fans wanted her to be the star of her own ongoing series.

I personally loved BQM’s Batgirl. This may sound weird, but I think BQM’s Batgirl run the first time that I really empathized with a female comic book character.

That was not a nice way of responding to a question, Scott Lobdell.

Also: I find it hypocritical and disingenuous that we base this field–entertainment fiction–on writing compelling stories with compelling characters…then turn our noses up at people who are compelled by those characters and stories

Michael Sacal

July 13, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Never believe anything that anyone at DC says, not even when they have art to back it up.

Snake oil salesmen selling bill of goods since 2004.

@sandwich eater: Read what I wrote. Nowhere did I use the word “comeback”, which has far more dynamic connotations than “coming back”, which is what I actually said. But if you really need further clarification, let’s just say that her appearance in Smallville could have been a FIRST STEP. It was something, which would arguably have been better than nothing. It could have led to other appearances, at least in Smallville. But now her fans who jumped the gun and decided her appearance in that book wasn’t good enough for them don’t even have that.

Victoria Pagac

July 13, 2012 at 7:14 pm

you do know Barbra was replaced by steph at the last minute first right thats why orcale the cure sucked and that oissed me off so i know how the steph fans feel

I stopped reading DC because they got rid of Steph (and Cass). Apparently my money isn’t good enough for them.

pharon f fanboy

July 13, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Fire Dideo, its his fault, he removed a generation of characters that people grew up with and were still reading – only to replace them with the ones he grew up reading instead.

It’s not so much that Steph isn’t calling herself Batgirl, or that Cass isn’t calling herself Batgirl, but because two viable and loved characters have been put on the bench simply because they shared a code name with another character. A character, mind you, that did more as a superhero and grew further after she stopped using that name due to unfortunate circumstances.

Exactly. Hell, Cass’ solo series outsold Hawkman, Firestorm and Catwoman, and they all got second and third chances.

DC’s editors are less businessmen, and simply nerds at the reign, pushing their personal favorites to the forefront and smothering those they dislike for no reason beyond personal dislike.

Y: The Last Nerd

July 13, 2012 at 7:59 pm

To Scott Lobdell,

The art. We trust the art. I wouldn’t trust YOU as far as I could throw you…

This isn’t about waffles, it isn’t about DC hating a comic book character, there’s no conspiracy. The simple fact is that DC just doesn’t care. It’s beneath them. It’s not on their radar. They don’t give a rat’s rear. They feel the same about the very vocal but very tiny Steph lobby. And really, I can’t blame them. Lets face it, that big fact juicy “40%” female demo at SDCC this year that the ladies are clinging to so desperately for a false sense of validation is all about Twilight, Shades of Gray and Manga. You would be lucky to find a hundred people at the convention that even knew who Stephanie was, let alone her convoluted history. Female fans are still a very small minority of the comic community and steph fans are an even smaller and insignificant demo. Time to take a good long look at those waffles and get a grip.

the question i have is, what happened to kate spencer? i think that manhunter volume as well as the backstory in streets of gotham were some of the best stuff dc published. i really hope they don’t just scrap her.

@catsmeow I can’t imagine that DC cares about someone who boycotts all their titles in a fit over a couple characters being put on the back burner. So, as the saying goes….with fans like you…

Lets face it, why should DC care about the Steph lobby at all? They’re an insignificant demographic that is part of an already small and irrelevant demographic that continually leaves the big 2 at the alter. News flash: that 40% female attendance number that fangirls are clinging to for some sense of validation is about 90% Twilight and Shades of Gray fans who really dont’ care at all about comics, let alone someone named Stephanie.

Kyrax2, the Batgirl who asked the question, has tweeted, “I will say that Scott Lobdell has been nothing less than gracious to me.”

His response (“do you trust the art or do you trust us?”) seems more a tacit acknowledgement of the backpedaling than any sort of taunt. It’s more than she got from anyone else on the panel, who all pretended to be dumbfounded by the “rumor” they’d announced a month ago.

Rob S.–thanks for that update, here is a link to that tweet:
https://twitter.com/kyrax2/status/223864368062926849

Here’s another interesting tweet on her part (https://twitter.com/kyrax2/status/224012583542325248)

“Actually, everyone from DC has been really nice! No one knew the answer to my question, but they were very nice about it. :)”

That’s good that they were nice to her. Weird that they thought something that was officially announced and talked about was a rumor though.

I think the story is great, and find the conflicting stories fascinating, but some of this reaction here is really histrionic. Cmon.

I wonder what DC is going to do with 10 waffles in August?

“I wonder what DC is going to do with 10 waffles in August?”

Have to feed the interns something.

“Actually, everyone from DC has been really nice! No one knew the answer to my question, but they were very nice about it. ”

I’m a big Stephanie Brown Batgirl fan and I kept the entire run even after I unloaded alot of recent DC after the New 52 announcement but it seems that the article blew the whole event out of proportion. I realize that alot of comic bloggers like to pile on the DC Hate and create controversy where there is none. DC hasn’t just done away with Stephanie Brown in the last year, they’ve removed Wally West, Donna Troy, etc… so acting like they’ve committed some injustice to a certain fanbase is ridiculous and to call the panel’s responses “flippant” is just hyperbole.

A writer of a book stating that a character is going to be in a book makes it more than just a “rumor”, but that’s probably how DC is going to play this. It’s par for the course for DC, so I can’t say I’m surprised. When I first read that Bryan Q. Miller was bringing Steph to Smallville, I remember thinking that DC would probably force him to change it before the comic was released, because that’s how they roll.

Actually seems lately TPTB at DC *are* prone to petulance when someone is trying to show them up. The Before Watchmen controversy and Chris Roberson’s firing — and some of the smug comments from involved parties at DC in both cases — have left me wondering if I should support DC with as much of my cash as I do.

This blog post is hardly objective, so I’m curious how the panelists’ response to this fan did truly come off. I have absolutely no opinion on Stephanie Brown or Batgirl, but the response to the fan as portrayed here seems disrespectful. I don’t know, maybe the relative success of the new 52 has some of the DC folks not caring if they treat other creators and fans like crap.

It’s yet another part of a battle between multiple factions of multiple generations of comics fandom that’s never going to end, really.

The Stephanie Brown fight’s one more aspect of this thing. And it’s not the first time she’s inspired fans to rise up in large numbers. Twice martyred, her supporters will be more fervent now than ever.

pharon f fanboy

July 14, 2012 at 6:49 pm

So I take it that bart allen wont the speedster in smallville season 11 because he is not the iconic version. LOL

:: “They’re virtually unknown outside said fanbase. ”

: “I’d say the same about Barbara Gordon.”

: “I only know her as Batgirl from back issues older than I am.”

An awful lot of people grew up knowing Batgirl as Commissioner Gordon’s daughter via the Batman tv series. Which has run via syndication for decades.

DC Comics. Where things you hear directly from the writer of the comics are mere rumor not to be trusted to actually to be seen in the comics.

Gotcha.

In fairness this sounds very much like the “Fan” who harangued the DC staff all of last year asking the same questions over and over again. There is normally an audible groan from the audience when she approaches the microphone and that could certainly count towards the tone in the responses.

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