so, i guess the death of stephanie brown is a bit controversial topic these days? which is fine & good. i never liked her as robin, though i had no problems with her as spoiler. mostly she was a placeholder for tim drake, & that was always clear in the narrative, which just annoyed me. her death is symptomatic of comics propensity towards easy melodrama (see also tim's dad, on the same subject), but i don't think it counts as "women in refrigerators" except in the most peripheral way. see, spoiler had been characterized as "not good enough" the entire time i'd seen her in any comics. that there sure counts as a bit anti-feminist, sure, i'll easily concur, but i don't think her death really plays across the same way. & her being swept under the rug is more a function of long-running serial story-telling. less, i think, to do with her gender than with the nature of comics to "soft retcon" storylines that didn't work out of existance.
arguments about the portrayal of stephanie brown's torture being sexualized as compared to jason todd's torture & murder, whatever. pretending that sexual intimidation & violation isn't going to be there is i think whitewashing the nature of violence against women. david has argued about the difference between context & subtext in that regard; fair & valid, but i'd say that the use of subtext here isn't unknowing sexualization of the character, but rather an unwillingness on the writer's part to explicitly deal with rape in the comic. either way, steph's death doesn't really seem to be the point of the argument so much as her lack of memorial.
so. i'm a little bit all over the place, as i'm writing this while david & peter argue about it, & while reading the articles, & people read over my shoulder to weigh in the opinions, & i should be working, etc. i guess the thing i am trying to say is that the death & subsequent refusal to acknowledge her death isn't really the sexist thing about the stephanie brown situation: it is the context. it is that she wasn't good enough, that she was used as a place holder. that is the real strike against women. & well, dan didio's nonsensical refusal to deal with critical complaints. i think the only tenable solution is to retcon in impact, importance. hear me out?
well, my first response was a kind of easy, cliche femme fataling. bring stephanie brown back & make her the new jason-todd-red-hood side-kick. fuck, put her in the robin costume. the problem with this is that it doesn't really reverse the sexism of the situation. making the chick evil is just as much negative trope. i'd say it is comic book logic over gender politics, but the opposite argument is a strong one. i'll tell you the reason i like it; i want to up the ante on the multiple earth situation. i want jason-tood-red-hood to be the earth-2 incarnation. i like that pitch, personally, & i think throwing stephanie in raises the bar. comic books do have a framework that allows a large resurection latitude, but the more we pitch knives at the suspension of disbelief, the more writers have to dance. & don't come at me with that "so you want to make her a side-kick still? way to empower girls!" because really though? she is side-kick material. or should have been. side-kick isn't as much a bad word, these days.
what else to do with her? frankly, my silly "evil robin" pitch above is mostly a joke. as is any "batgirl dragged her into a lazarus pit!" or anything else goofy like that. stephanie should probably stay dead. so what to do with her? really, she should just be acknowledged & accepted. maybe the folks at detective comics just got it into their pretty little heads that carrie kelley would be the first girl robin? whatever. i didn't like stephanie brown because she was a marginal addition to the batman story as robin. with the powers of retcon at our disposal, that can be fixed. instead of writing her out of canon, why not retcon her into a bigger deal? put that glass case in the batcave. write some "legends of the dark knight" with stephanie actually kicking ass. maybe have the teen titans remember the akward evening when batman brought stephanie along as robin & they snubbed her. make her have exsisted as robin outside of the blip on the radar she currently was. maybe even have tim drake's step-mom adopt her kid. make stephanie matter.