About a month ago there was a lot of rejoicing around these part about the return of the Unsinkable Stephanie Brown. Smallville: Season 11 scribe Bryan Q. Miller said we’d see Steph donning the Nightwing suit in DC’s digital-first comic. Lately there’s been some rumbling that maybe the brunette in the preview image was not in fact Miss Brown.
At a few panels, concerned fans asked for confirmation that the former Robin/Spoiler/Batgirl would appearing in the announced Smallville role. In most instances, panelists denied knowledge of the plans, passing the buck to absent colleagues associated with Digital or the Bat Group. It was finally revealed at yesterday’s
Superman DC Comics New Wave panel that the decision was made not to use Stephanie Brown in the story. Barbara Gordon will instead be appearing as Nightwing. The original announcement wasn’t so much inaccurate as outdated. Miller wrote Stephanie into the series, but editorial mandate stipulated the change.
Dan DiDio’s reasoning for the change was “If we’re going to introduce a character into the Smallville world, I want them to be the most iconic versions like Barbara Gordon or Dick Grayson, and maybe down the road we can do more.”
One could call shenanigans as Bart Allen appeared as Impulse during the TV series (in lieu of more popular versions of the Flash like Barry or even Wally), and that Dick Grayson is the most iconic version of Nightwing. In any case, DiDio’s comments are discouraging, suggestive of a low opinion when it comes to comic readers and their capacity to parse DC’s rich canon of alternate realities and legacy characters. Forget any perceived disrespect for fan-favorite characters. It seems to me like a disregard for readers’ intelligence, whether those readers are long-time fans or more recent converts.