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In all candor, we’re not sure how all this fits into continuity or storylines or whatever, but is seems that while in the midst of a Grant Morrison-scripted dream/hoax/imaginary story, Batman imagined a memorial for Stephanie Brown, aka the Spoiler, in his Bat cave (Above, click for larger image.)

You will recall that getting Brown remembered as just another in a long line of hero-worshipping, idealistic, pantless teens who were slain because of their unhealthy interest in being a sidekick to the goddam Batman has long been the goal of the Girl-Wonder.org website. In fact, the crusade for a Stephanie memorial has become the rallying point for an entire generation of fangirls.

Even though it may have been imaginary, the memorial was received with joy by Girl-Wonder founder Mary Borsellino :

Batman #673 means so, so much more than any of these. Because, in two panels, we were told everything that mattered: that inside Batman’s heart, Stephanie was Robin, the same as Dick and Jason and Tim — her gender made no difference at all to that. That her loss is felt as keenly as those other losses Batman has been shaped by.

In those two panels, in that one gesture of Batman contemplating the Robins he’s lost in front of the symbol of those losses, that line of suits in cases, the glass ceiling keeping girls out of the red and green and gold costume at Batman’s side finally cracked and fell.


Seems like a good first step to us, but don’t give up the fight just yet, ladies. We say don’t rest until you get a female superhero book that’s actually suitable for young women to read. Now that would be a real accomplishment.

1 COMMENT

  1. “We say don’t rest until you get a female superhero book that’s actually suitable for young women to read.”

    And what would that ideal book be like, anyway? Seriously, I’d love to hear it.

  2. Of course, I doubt she’ll ever get the display case … That would fly in the face of DARK KNIGHT RETURNS … so I don’t think Stephanie (of whatever her name is) will be acknowledged … her presence in the series, in time, will be smoothed over.

  3. “Seems like a good first step to us, but don’t give up the fight just yet, ladies. We say don’t rest until you get a female superhero book that’s actually suitable for young women to read. Now that would be a real accomplishment.”

    That’s been the plan from the start!

  4. I was thinking the same thing, Lea, having clicked over to the Beat straight from Journalista.

    Dirk is arguing that the aim of the Girl Wonder folks amounts to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, and I don’t know that he’s wrong; on the other hand, I suppose it’s possible that if you shift enough deck chairs around, their combined weight will cause the ship to right itself.

    It’s gonna take a metric f*ckload of deck chairs, though.

  5. I find Dirk’s entire take on the Big Two simplistic, and this is no exception. In addition he warps the entire thing into a “child friendly” campaign, when no one ever said that’s what it was. YA-friendly is more like it.

  6. Um… Lessee:

    — Runaways
    — Spider Girl (and comics in her universe)
    — Girl Genius (when available as paper)
    — The New Teen Titans (For DC, that is – you know, the anime looking one.)

    Granted, there aren’t that many, but there are some, most with good solid writing.

  7. “We say don’t rest until you get a female superhero book that’s actually suitable for young women to read.”

    Ditto Runaways.
    But Spider-Girl… I don’t think its a good thing when there’s a character who instead of being her own character is kind of a shadow of a male character.

  8. Interestingly, when I originally wrote this piece I was going to say “We say don’t rest until you get a female superhero book from DC that’s actually suitable for young women to read, but I didn’t to be picking on DC alone.

    But the truth is, Marvel is actually doing a few books that have wider appeal like Spider-Girl and Runaways. OR the X-men.

    I don’t know what Dirk meant by the panel of Kitty and Colossus — is there a fangirl backlash over this scene I’m unaware of? That book was written by Joss Whedon and while he certainly has some hang-ups of his own, he also knows what nerd girls like. As a long ago X-reader I saw that panel as a “yep, I get it” not something negative…that said I haven’t read the surrounding story.

  9. Well, there’s Minx and CMX and a few Johnny DC titles and from DC. Deppey seems on the money for the DCU/WildStorm/Vertigo output (although it’s certainly possible for 13-year-old girls to dig on things like Blue Beetle and a couple other books…it’s hard to judge matters of taste, after all)

    I don’t know what Dirk meant by the panel of Kitty and Colossus — is there a fangirl backlash over this scene I’m unaware of? That book was written by Joss Whedon and while he certainly has some hang-ups of his own, he also knows what nerd girls like. As a long ago X-reader I saw that panel as a “yep, I get it” not something negative…that said I haven’t read the surrounding story.

    He explains in the image credits at the bottom of his post; there’s nothing wrong with teh image or the scene in Deppey’s estimation, but he posted it as an example of who the book is made for. With scenes like that, X-Men seems more for grown-ups than kids.

  10. alex, just wondering, what is the breakdown of those girls?

    Asian? Are they into ‘manga’ as well? What, if any, other comics do they get?

    Not being snarky, just honestly wondering. Thanks.

  11. there are a few young ladies of Asian descent, but it is a wide assortment of backgrounds. Many read some manga, but are not exclusive to it. The MINX books have been popular, and several of First Second’s books as well.

    A pretty wide mix of taste, but if they read a superhero book, it is most always Runaways.

  12. So ‘m a guy, and I read guy comics, so I honestly don’t know the answer to this question: What’s wrong with Wonder Woman? Why is it considered not for girls?

  13. Dear Beat:

    Simplistic? The Big Two trying to maintain a grip on the American comics market by stacking all their chips on superhero comics is simplistic– hoping that if they pile enough Known Talent on their flagship titles & nag those talents into writing the same five stories over and over again, they’ll continue to make money hand over fist… That’s simplistic. Dirk’s arguing for a multiplicity of genre, diversity of style, and quality of literature, a three-pronged attack that would go quite a ways towards introducing new readers to both the Big Stables, as opposed to their ongoing tactic of bullying established readers into buying a hundred titles a month just to keep up.

    Time was, I could go to my local comic shop and see new and original titles all over the wall: D&Q, Vortex, Fantagraphics, Humanoids, Viz, NBM… Indie publishers of all stripes. Now it’s nothing but tights and bombastic ass. I frequently wander in, wondering if they’ve taken the trouble to stock, say, a new Hernandez title, only to wander out again, dispirited and my eyes bleary. Now almost all my business goes to Oxford Books. Every two weeks or so I spend an extra four bucks to take the train a county out of my way, to go to a store where Marvel and DC are allocated a pair of bookshelves each, and that’s it. The rest of the store is dedicated to the rest of the world. It’s not perfect, but on the whole it’s a damnsight more alluring to casual customers, to readers, than any other comic shop I’ve been in. The place is well-lit, orderly, and clean– even the obligatory porn section. Customers seem more relaxed and there’s certainly more of a diverse clientle: women, couples, parents, children, special needs groups, the whole spectrum of configurations of gender, race and age…

    You know, all the other people the Big Two claim to want, but rarely try and reach out to.

    I realize I’m probably being grossly unfair and screechy in the bargain, but so are Marvel and DC. It’s a big market– global, even –and they both want the lion’s share. Funny, then, that they have so little to offer, and seem so unwilling to do anything risky or particularly interesting in order to get it. Minx would seem to be a good start. I hope Warner gives it time to pan out. But it’s not enough. At present, at best, it represents a stopgap.

    Women in Refrigerators has a genuine point, and one worth making, repeatedly, until editors everywhere get a clue. Girl Wonder, not so much. I don’t see getting a trophy case erected in Bat’s secret clubhouse to be on par with eliminating misogynistic wingnuttery in comix. The time could be better spent staking out fresh territory outside the Big Two, instead of pandering to the mistaken notion that anything in tights is Teh Mainstream. They’re facing the right road, but they’re not walking down it. They’re more concentrated on promoting Blue Beetle Mark Whatever than they are on pushing creators like Becky Cloonan, Carla Speed McNeil, Jessica Fink or Lucy Knisley– women who do work that’s fun and groundbreaking, stuff that Matters, work which could quite easily be called mainstream if it weren’t for a certain tired dynasty of titles about a curmudgeonly crimefighter and his invariably tragic sidekicks…

  14. I think Dirk’s got it completely right. When I waded into a Blog@Newsarama discussion on the supposed tentacle rape cover last year I was called an asshat and a troll for daring to suggest that readers who disliked the portrayal of women in DC and Marvel comics had plenty of alternatives that they could enjoy outside the Big 2.

    It’s like I say to people, you could work your butt off trying to make the Republican Party friendly to the working class or you could save yourself the time and frustration and just vote Democratic ; )

  15. I think Dirk’s best point is separating the questions into: A) Making superhero comics more appealing to girls in general; and B) making superhero comics more appealing — or at least, less frequently offensive — to existing fangirls.

    I don’t know if there’s an answer to B that won’t alienate the fanboys. But it appears the solution to A involves making separate lines of comics geared towards younger readers — which DC is already doing with Johnny DC and Marvel is doing with its Marvel Adventures line. All they need now is some more specifically girl-friendly titles.

  16. Hmm… a DC book for girls to read starring a female character…

    Jeff Smith’s Shazam! sorta, with its great Mary Marvel depiction.
    I would count that actually, but of course its key audience is children, not young adults, its still a book whose star is a male character, plus its hardly the norm.

  17. [Joe Williams: It’s like I say to people, you could work your butt off trying to make the Republican Party friendly to the working class or you could save yourself the time and frustration and just vote Democratic]

    Good point. I’ve been “voting democratic” for many years now, and I couldn’t be happier with the current situation in comics. There are more great comics coming out right now than ever before.

    I feel kind of sorry for people who expect mainstream comics to get better. What’s the point? If you want to read great superhero comics, pick up the Lee/Kirby run of Fantastic Four.

  18. What’s wrong with Wonder Woman? It has a history of being poorly written light fetish porn. This may be changing under the new writers, but I haven’t picked one up to know.

    Personally, I think, despite the idiotic Civil War arc, Marvel is doing a much better job right now with bringing in new writing talent and new takes on old characters. I don’t like everything written by everyone, but I know I gravitate more towards Marvel and its subsidiaries than I do DC and its subsidiaries.

    Of course, there are the independents, but they just don’t have the marketing force or fan base necessary. I wish more publishing houses would change over the the Manga type format with quarterly publications. I think the format is just better for the reader experience. I did not always think this way, but unless it is something I really, really want, like Buffy, I wait for the collections.

    Even Marvel falls down, though. Kitty Pride being a perfect example. She should never have been written as a “girl of loose morals.” It did not fit the background of the character at all. There are a lot of people who seem hell bent on creating sexual angst where in normal day-to-day life there wouldn’t be. I really liked the 1990s Kitty Pride and Iliana and thought they were neglected interesting characters.

    I dunno. Maybe I’m weird. But I see the Spider-Girl series as a very realistic portrayal of teen angst about a “super” parent. I mean, after all, she is a shadow of her dad in some ways. I’ve only read to issue 50, but I see that she is growing and becoming her own type of hero. Where her dad would have had smart ass quips and punches, she talks and tries to touch the emotions of her enemies. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. She is a little more together than a teenager would really be, but who wants to read a Judy Blum novel with Spider-Girl as the central character?

    hrm… this is getting long. I think I may need to turn this into a blog entry…

  19. Sorry, Stephanie Brown was not Robin.

    Batman only hired her so he could fire her and get her off the streets. He never wanted to replace Tim.

    As for turning it into some kind of feminist issue, please. Pick something other than a six month storyline to get all ismed about, thanks.

  20. Thanks for setting us all straight on that, Mike. I’m sure everyone will be delighted to know that they don’t need to care about Steph, or what she represents.

    Perhaps you’d also like to tell us what’s an appropriate feminist issue? I mean, you clearly have a much better grasp on the situation than everyone else.

  21. >>Tamora Pierce Says:
    >>02/5/08 at 11:43 am
    >>What did Tim (Liebe) and I do, chop’ liver? (White Tiger/Marvel)

    Yours was exactly the book I thought of when I read this! I loved White Tiger, and I’d love to see you work on an ongoing title, if your other commitments ever allowed it.

  22. “.Marionette Says:
    02/6/08 at 8:26 am
    Thanks for setting us all straight on that, Mike. I’m sure everyone will be delighted to know that they don’t need to care about Steph, or what she represents.

    Perhaps you’d also like to tell us what’s an appropriate feminist issue? I mean, you clearly have a much better grasp on the situation than everyone else.”

    The Loya Paktia are still settling tribal feuds with the exchange of women. It’s not going to be as easy as getting a made-up imaginary case in a dream sequence in a made-up imaginary story about made-up imaginary people, but it’s A) totally for reals, and B) totally sexist and C) totally awful.

    Problems include: there isn’t a current attempt by anybody to do anything about it, it’s in Afghanistan, and probably will require more work than going on the internet and writing stuff down. But the possible success includes far more than bragging rights in blog comments! See, if one were part of a movement that helped end the exchange of women to settle tribal feuds, then one could actually change and affect the lives of women suffering from all sorts of sexual violation, including rape and a whole litany of horrors. And here’s the thing–while everytime you torture and murder a Stephanie Brown, an angel gets it’s wings, everytime it actually happens in real life to a real human being, then an angel gets grossed out by your Chesire Cat smile over an imaginary display case.

    Still, I certainly think that the first step is a panel in a Grant Morrison comic book. If New X-Men, Doom Patrol & Animal Man taught us anything, it’s that when it happens in a Grant Morrison comic, it sticks around forever, and becomes the fabric on which continuities are built!

  23. Gee, Tucker, why are wasting your valuable time sneering on a blog? Don’t you know there are drowning kittens out in the real world that need your help?!?!

    What are you, some kind of MoNSTeR that you calmly drone on about the lack of value of made-up people you’re not even interested in when ReaL injustice is happening out in the rEAl world??!? Shame on you!! SHaMe!!1!

    THink of teh KiTTieS!!!