I think I’ve written briefly about disappointment about the cancellation and general poor handling of Stephanie Brown’s character before, but in light of her recent replacement in Smallville Season 11, I think it warrants reiteration. The decision to drop Stephanie’s Batgirl book in favor of the one starring Barbara Gordon was absolutely criminal. While the reboot was sold as a way to bring in new readers, it resulted in the ending of DC’s most appealing book to young, female readers. In place of it, they brought back an old character to appeal to people who already knew about her. Stephanie Brown is one of my favorite characters of all time, but I try not to favor characters I personally prefer when evaluating the quality of a comic. I wouldn’t have a problem with the new Batgirl if it was good or at least carried over the old series’ fun tone and positive representation of a female lead, but it isn’t either of these. It’s mediocre at best and portrays one of the most iconic female characters in comics as physically and psychologically weaker than her male counterparts. Furthermore, they lost the incredible and progressive persona of Oracle, but I’ve wandered from my original point of Stephanie Brown.
The decision to replace Stephanie with Barbara in Smallville Season 11 is extremely distressing. It shows that someone in the editorial management of DC does not want Stephanie Brown and other characters to appear in any form. Apparently, multiple creators have asked to use Stephanie, Cassandra Cain, Rene Montoya, and other characters, but have been flat out told that they were not allowed. They are stifling the creativity of their creators and their ability to produce the best quality book they can under the pretense of branding. Since the reboot, DC has ignored their rich stable of legacy characters in favor of retelling old stories. Many people including myself were upset with the portrayal of women in the new 52. I believe this is largely a consequence of the removal of all of the newer progressive female characters. Now, they wont even let one of these characters appear in an alternate universe like Smallville’s. The excuse given by DC is that Barbara Gordon is more iconic, but that’s ridiculous. She’s iconic as Batgirl not Nightwing as she’ll be appearing in Smallville. Furthermore, I challenge anyone to find someone who knows enough to recognize Batgirl as Barbara Gordon, but not enough to know she later became oracle.