The other day, I read a person's idea for Nightwing
. I'm not a Nightwing fan, but I tend to think I should be, and I would be, if the writing ideas behind him were different, so I find these neat.
Now the idea itself wasn't bad. Having Dick do undercover work in Baltimore. It's not my choice as I'd prefer him to interact with a group of supporting characters he could be himself around. But it definitely seems workable.
Then I got to this part:"As a side note... Dick belongs with Babs - there will be no interference in this area."
That's it really. The writer then digressed into how he needs his spine back and a good job.
I'm not sure why this bothers me. Maybe it's the lack of justification. I mean, this is this person's blog, so naturally she has no obligation to explain her opinions to me. But, the blind "this is the cold hard truth" way it was stated bothered me.
Not to mention that there's no explanation for how to get them back together. Because, face it, proposal or not, the two are NOT together right now. We don't have a case of two magnets being drawn together until a piece of paper is placed in between. These are two characters clearly moving in opposite directions. Inertia is against them, not for them. Interference is required to get them back together.
It reeks of fan-entitlement to me. "This should be this way because *I* want it this way" even though it doesn't make sense in the narrative.
Look, I admit to my own biases against the pairing. I've even posted about it
. But this attitude rankles me.
Possibly because (and this is not fair painting everyone with the same brush, I know ) every time I've gotten into a discussion about the pairing it'd go as follows:
Random Person: Oh! Dick should get with Babs!
Me: Hmm, I'm not a big fan of the pairing.
Random Person: Aw, why? Dick and Babs would make a great couple!
Me: Well (insert a few reasons basically stated in the post I linked above)
Random Person: But...Dick and Babs belong together!
I'm not saying that every Dick/Babs fan is like this. There are many with, I'm sure, very reasonable and logical reasons why they're compatible. And they certainly don't have to justify themselves to a skeptic like me.
But the fact is, I haven't read a single justification that went beyond: "But they were together before and it was good!"
Which is true enough. A good writer could probably pair Darkseid and Catwoman together and make it fun.
That hardly means characters belong together. Even history of having been together before does not make the characters compatible now.
I admit, I'm being a bit of a hypocrite here. I've argued that Steve Trevor and Diana belong together. Even though they haven't been for twenty some odd years. Even though as current continuity has it, some massive retcons would be needed to make the couple work.
But I think there's a big difference. Steve and Diana were together for the Golden Age and while dicked with a lot in the Silver Age, still tended to end up together. He was created to be her Lois Lane, created as a partner/love interest.
In contrast, Barbara wasn't created to be Dick's girlfriend or vice versa. And as for history...honestly, the pairing itself is a relatively modern invention. When Babs was originally introduced she was quite a bit older than Dick and didn't see him as love interest material.
It's only later that she was actually tweaked to be the same age as Robin. And it took quite a while for them to actually start dating anyway.
Besides, if you are going to be using past stories to justify a couple in comics, he was dating Kory a lot longer than Babs. And even almost married her. More than once. I'm not saying that makes this pairing more valid than Dick/Babs. But it makes it AS valid.
Babs might have gotten a proposal. But Kory had a wedding
. I'm just saying.
I've never read a Dick/Babs manifesto posted by any fan of the couple that really convinced me that they could work. And in general, they didn't tend to give many reasons behind it.
Except occasionally the "Well, she's a distant, shy geek, but Dick could bring her out of her shell" reason.
Which I'm sorry, but you have to WANT to come out of your shell for that to work. And even then...you've got a very independent person who likes her space, bristles when someone offers to help PUSH HER CHAIR and a very effusive guy, public with his emotions and very demonstrative in his gestures. It sounds pretty, but it basically requires Babs to either CHANGE WHO SHE IS, put up with the invasion of personal space that gets irritating and uncomfortable, or be closed off and make DICK miserable.
The thing is, most fans of the Dick/Babs pairing I've seen that use that justification are academic, scholarly, bookish women. They are, if I may be so bold to conjecture, very confident online but possibly less so in real life.
The fantasy of the hot guy noticing the shy geeky girl and reaching out for her is not uncommon.
I tend to think that when certain of these fans say "Barbara" they actually mean "Me".
Because honestly, Barbara IS a geek. But shy? Unassuming? Unnoticed? No way. This is a woman with highly trained operatives at her command. This is a woman that the Justice League considers invaluable. This woman has contacts and connections throughout the world.
If she's not reaching out, it's not because she needs rescue. It's because she DOESN'T WANT TO.
It says something, I think, that pretty much every female fan I can think of who insists this pairing should be tend to be more vocally fannish regarding Dick Grayson than Barbara Gordon.
Straight male fans I think tend to be similar, from the opposite perspective. Most are huge Babs fans rather than Dick's. And why not? She's beautiful, sexy and smart. A geek's dream girl. I don't think it's necessarily a stretch to suggest that most of these fans might like to imagine they're a superhero, able to reach out and win this attractive unattainable woman. They tend to be less militant about it and more "wouldn't it be cool if..."
I'm being uncharitable. I do know there are fans of this couple that genuinely like both characters. But they tend not to be the ones that have that streak of fan-entitlement. The "DICK MUST BE WITH BABS!" extremeness.
But when I consider the rabid usually female fans that rage at Dan Didio for publically saying the characters are not and will not be together as long as he's Editor. They're not reasonable.
I've heard the argument that it isn't Didio's place to say that a couple shouldn't be together.
Honestly. YES IT IS. The man is EDITOR-IN-CHIEF. Which means whatever product comes out, comes out with his creative fingerprints on it. If he thinks that pairing two characters together is a bad idea in terms of characterization, then it is HIS JOB to make sure that it doesn't happen.
For the record, while I'm sure he has business justifications as well, I know for certain that many of his objections to the couple are on a character level.
Because I asked him. He phrased his answer in terms of how Dick or Babs (or more accurately people like them) would really react. Now I'm not saying that we should always agree with his interpretations of the characters.
I'm saying that as EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, he has the responsibility to veto changes that he thinks defy the core characterization of the characters.
Look, I'm not saying that Dick and Babs can't be written well as a couple. Or that they shouldn't ever be a couple.
I'm saying they're NOT A COUPLE.
They don't "belong together". They're not "starcrossed lovers kept apart by the cruel hand of
It's time to deal with reality.
FACT: Dick and Babs are not together.
This is not a matter of interpretation. It's not a matter of debate. They are NOT together. Now what happens next, do they meet other people, do they get back together...that's up to you.
Until it's contradicted by the next issue of course.
Labels: barbara gordon, dick grayson, rants