Maybe there’s a reason you’re at the top of DC Comics. Maybe all those marketing degrees everyone has under your umbrella proves what you’re doing is the right thing to do financially. Maybe all the statistics say do this; maybe all the numbers say do that. I don’t know. I don’t have access to any of that data. So what I have to tell you is coming straight from my gut.
You only have two untouchable A-listers: Superman and Batman. That’s it. Wonder Woman’s a public-consciousness B-plus, if that. Clark and Bruce. Just two. And you replaced Bruce. Twice. So don’t come to me about “iconic”.
Everyone else is ancillary to the general public. The general public doesn’t really care which version of Robin is in the new Batman cartoon. The checklist: black hair, red tunic, yellow cape? Good to go. (It’s probably Dick.) But we do. Diehards care about who wears the cape because we know the differences between Tim, Jason and Dick. We know that Barbara isn’t Cass isn’t Steph. But we’ve seen Dick as Robin animated at least 4 times. Barbara too. Cass and Steph? Never.
The problem with reusing “iconic” characters over and over again is that the same ground is tread, over and over again, ad infinitum. Dark haired acrobat boy as Robin is guaranteed to be culturally safe. Everyone loves Dick, right? So you take fans on this beaten path and try to twist the road a little bit so that no, the Graysons died by gunfire, wait, Dick had a brother and other inane junk like that. That is boring.
I’m probably a lot younger than you, for sure. You have an extreme fascination with the Silver Age, where heroes were icons, icons were real men, and the real men were white men.
I grew up reading comics in the 1990s, and I watched the Timmverse DC shows. The 1990s had a lot of weird crap going on like forced diversity (the Burger King BK Kids’ Club had a paraplegic kid named Wheels). So we finally got characters like Cassandra Cain. Someone who finally looked like my sister, if I had one. And Cass became so much more than one note thing. She became MY Batgirl. I was a little mad when Steph took over, but Miller’s Batgirl was admittedly fantastic. So what is iconic for you is not iconic for me.
I remember reading somewhere (maybe in Batman: The Complete History by Les Daniels) that children identified more readily with Robin instead of Batman. Instead of imagining themselves as a dark crusader, kids saw themselves at Batman’s side, with this imposing father figure as their protector. And that’s when it changed. Batman was no longer about a one man war, it was about legacy. About a man teaching others to survive an impossible fight while trying not to lose themselves in violence and anger.
I understand that after decades continuity gets bogged down and needs to be rebooted.
So you reboot, but why do you treat it as some kind of zero-sum game where having Barbara Gordon as Batgirl precludes Cass or Steph from being one (or just being in the universe proper)? Also, why does Kate Kane get a free pass to stay in continuity? Please stop insulting my intelligence. This is doubly and triply insulting because we just had arcs with both Bruce and Dick as Batman at the same time. I can tell the differences between all the Batgirls and what each brings to the table. Maybe you can’t?
I recently saw an interview with Scott Snyder on Comicvine where he said that he loved Cassandra and wanted to write her, but she is kept in character limbo because of editorial mandates “above [Snyder’s] pay grade.” The sad part about this is that I can’t think of any reasons WHY this would be so. So you want to keep her out of Gotham? Fine. Put Cass in Hong Kong with Steph. Call it Batgirls, Inc. You get Cass showing Steph the ropes and Steph’s culture clash as backdrops to asskicking. Easy. I can think of a million adventures that can happen outside of your precious little bubble. But you won’t show them. It’s like two children you’re ashamed of because they arent as popular as your other kids. So you refuse to introduce them to other people and hope that people just forget about then. You are horrible parents.
There is a panel in the Night of the Owls mini that broke my heart. Bruce says “Call the family,” and Cass and Steph aren’t there. That broke my heart. It’s a testament to DC writers and artists that the absence of their fictional persons could actually cause distress and mental and physical pain in a person.
I want you to acknowledge them. Make them real again. Let them interact in a world of adventure. Let them tell their stories. And if you can’t do that, give them up. Give them to us. Give them to fans who care about them. You’ve done as much in practice already.