So: I recently sent DC Comics a somewhat, er, lengthy note outlining my current dissatisfaction (to put it mildly) with their product. I've semi-randomly decided I should post it to the Interwebz somewhere, and since I don't have a proper blog, I figured it'd have to be here. I've edited it a bit for length. If anyone actually reads this (ha! like that'll happen) and is curious to see the whole thing, drop me a line.
I am no longer buying DC comics.
There are several reasons for this. In part, I'm unhappy with DC's creative direction. I was not happy with the loss of the marriage of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, or with the downplaying of Lois' importance to the Superman mythos. Lois is Clark's equal, every bit as smart and heroic and psychologically strong. She is not and never was an impediment or a 'trophy wife'. I was not happy the brutal injury of Bette Kane to provide angst and motivation for the heroine in the otherwise fine Batwoman title (a case of 'women in refrigerators'). I was not happy with the off-hand and off-panel killing of Helena Bertinelli in favour of bringing back her pre-crisis equivalent, Helena Wayne -- an entirely different character with a different personality and history. I was deeply unhappy with the treatment of Barbara Gordon, formerly one of my favourite characters as Oracle but now degenerated from a strong, capable, independent woman and one of the smartest and strongest characters in the DC Universe to a young, inexperienced, borderline incompetent little girl. I disliked the decision to cure Barbara's paralysis and again make her Batgirl, but I could have enjoyed the new direction if she had maintained her skills and activities as Oracle while also going back into the field; instead, she has regressed. Worse, she is so relentlessly overexposed that I'm starting to sour on her, something I never would have expected.
But the main reason why I have stopped buying DC comics is the treatment of those characters not yet used or even alluded to in the reboot. I can understand that not every character can be used at once, of course, and that DC does not want to reveal future plans. But rumours abound that two of my favourite DC characters, former Batgirls Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown are "toxic". Steph was even announced as appearing in an out-of-continuity Smallville comic before she was swiftly removed and replaced by the already omnipresent Barbara Gordon. I am unclear why there is no room for her (or Cass, or the others) in the New 52. I can understand that her sales do not warrant a solo title, but I would think fan support for her sufficient to justify adding her to a team book or building a new one around her. Such characters as Zatanna and Booster Gold got that opportunity in the reboot, despite their pre-boot solo books having sales no better than Steph's. In any case, I would have bought Smallville had it featured Steph. Now I will not. I would like to be able to reject the idea that DC's editorial staff has some sort of irrational vendetta against some of my favourite characters and/or their fans, but that is becoming increasingly difficult.
This mean-spirited twisting of the knife is the straw that broke the camel's back for me. Stephanie Brown is my favourite character. Having her return dangled in front of me and then ripped away has made me stop buying DC comics. This is not to say that I'm boycotting your output to send a message. I've simply lost interest. I did buy the next few weeks' worth of your comics, but I found I couldn't read them without being reminded of Steph (and Cass, and Renee, and Lois, and the rest). It had stopped being fun. I've realised that a DC Universe without these characters, or with them twisted out of all recognition (at least to me) does not interest me.
And it's the treatment of Stephanie Brown that rankles the most. I firmly believe she is one of the best and strongest characters DC has. She's fun, and likeable, and sympathetic, and strong, and easy to look up to and to identify with. She was a rare beacon of light in the dark world of Gotham City. Even better, she's the one who never got any respect, who was told she was not good enough, that she didn't have what it took, that she should leave it to the professionals. Can't many of us identify with that? But she didn't give up, not even when she nearly died. She always kept fighting and improving, until through hard work and sheer force of will, she became a hero. She is not only a great character, but a great role model, especially for young girls (a demographic sadly under-represented in comics). The DC Universe is a far, far poorer place without her.
I have not bought new comics from DC since late July and do not expect this to change. I have, however, bought a digital copy of one your old comics. Just the other day, in fact, when the Smallville Batman storyline debuted. That comic was Batgirl (2009) #1, the debut of Stephanie Brown as Batgirl -- a comic I already own both as a single issue and as a trade paperback. Just saying.