DC stands for Debate and Confusion

Thursday, June 9, 2011

So I hadn't chimed in yet on the ridiculousness going on at DC Comics. I thought I'd give it a little time for the dust to settle, but most of the fallout is looking unhappy from my perspective.

In case you haven't heard, DC is canceling all of their books and 're-launching' (not rebooting) their line with 52 #1 issues in September. They've said they realize that their titles weren't modern and diverse enough... or something. Which is fine, and maybe a few of the titles that were obviously green-lit to court a non-white audience will do well. From the part of “diversity” known as the female comic reader, I'm less thrilled. Most of the characters I care about look to be either changed or missing/dropped from prominence/made 'edgy'. Damn, I hate doing things in the name of 'edgy'. I haven't seen one pitch yet that looks fun: it's all spiky art and oh-look-how-dark-and-tormented-we-are. It sucked in the 90's, DC, and it sucks now.

Not to mention they had Jim Lee re-design most of the costumes to look completely idiotic.

Okay, here's a run-down of more thoughts.


Word on the internet is that there is now a rule at DC that women have to wear pants. This makes me uneasy. Not because I don't think that practical costumes are awesome, but because it's presented as a rule. Superhero costumes are not a one-size-fits-all type thing.


Good Pants: Awesome Question from this week's issue of Birds of Prey:

Bad Pants: Ridiculously ugly Black Canary from the cover to September's new Birds of Prey:

The blog DC Women Kicking Ass did a great post on the difference between costume issues and artist issues when it comes to female characters: http://dcwomenkickingass.tumblr.com/post/6247600487/notthepants

Also, user lexid523 perfectly articulated my uneasiness in the following comment on the BleedingCool Forums:
Practicality doesn't always = pants/trousers. Ancient Greeks wore skirts in battle. Field hockey and women's tennis players wear skirts Gymnasts wear leotards. Would I like to see more pants than receding panty lines? Hells yes. But I can't shake what Gloria Steinem said when they first redesigned WW's costume-- "If the powerful only wear pants, it sends the message that only pants are powerful." Skirts can be powerful. Bare legs can be powerful. But if the only way you can get your artists to not go over the top sexualizing of your female characters is to tell them to dress more like men, I think you need new artists, not new costumes.

Also, WTF is up with that girl who might be Zatanna on the cover of “Justice League Dark”?

Zatanna now:

In September?:

I know the fishnets are her thing, but 'stage magician' is also her thing. Moving her fishnets to her arms just makes her look like a teenage goth.

Besides, it pisses me off as a designer because wouldn't she have rocked a look like this?

Moving on, Characters:

Characters who are getting more time/prominence and I am cautiously optimistic about:
Cyborg on JLA (Interesting choice, could be great)
Vixen on JLI
Etrigan heading up a team of medieval heroes? Could be awesome
Static Shock with own series (I'm not a big fan of the character, but I know many are)

Characters who I have not heard anything about yet, who I like where they are now:
Stephanie Brown (Batgirl)
Renee Montoya (The Question)
Helena Bertinelli (Huntress)
Zinda Blake (Lady Blackhawk)
Jaime Reyes (Blue Beetle)

Characters who I'm really concerned about the direction it looks like they're going in:

Wonder Woman (Brian Azzerello is a fine writer, but makes me very nervous to put him on Wonder Woman, given the unholy way-too-violent-for-this-character mess that has been her corner of the DCU of late.)

Wonder Girl (Cassie) (Cassie “my mom is an archeologist and my dad is Zeus and I kind of have issues with that, but I kick ass for the good guys” Sandsmark is now a “belligerent powerhouse thief” with a stupid looking red barbed lasso-thing? WTF?)

Starfire (Has been a bit of a mess recently, but now in a book about “outlaw vigilantes” starring Jason Todd? Plus her main characteristic in the pitch isn't that she's a badass space warrior princess, but that she is “a former prisoner of intergalactic war”. Arrgh.)

There are so many writers at DC that I don't trust to write female characters worth a damn, that on some level I'm worried about all of them.

Of the confirmed and rumored titles and teams, on 52 books I'm seeing 3 female creators, one writer, one artist, and one co-artist. One of those artists is not on a superhero book, but on a vampire romance. That is kinda sad, DC.

On that subject, about writers:

The Good:
Gail Simone on Batgirl, co-writing Firestorm. Not that even Gail Simone can make me all that interested in Firestorm.

Scott Snyder on both Batman and Swamp Thing, which makes me interested in Swamp Thing but concerned about keeping up the schedule of my beloved American Vampire!

The Bad:
Bryan Q. Miller, one of a vanishingly small number of writers who can write fun stories and female characters worth a damn, not yet on anything. This makes me very unhappy.

Scribe of possibly the BEST single issue of this year so far Nick Spencer has already left for Marvel, so no hope there.

Duane Swierczynski is on Birds of Prey. Fuck. I knew I recognized this name, but it took me a minute with Google to realize why. He wrote that horrid Holmes book I reviewed here. Maybe his original stuff is fine, but what I read was basically a book full of what-not-to-do when writing established characters, so I am more than a little horrified that he's taking over the Birds of Prey. Not that the Birds without Oracle or Huntress or Lady Blackhawk means much to me... except as the only all-female super team in DC. Fuck.

Okay, that's out of my system for the moment. I'm trying not to be too pessimistic, it's probable some of the books will be awesome.

And I know it's all a stunt to get new readers. I'm just sad that all of the things I was reading DC for (characters I like, stories that are both action and FUN) look like they're being thrown out in the process.

I'll leave you with some Themysciran ladies looking powerful and comfortable in their short togas.


Zak said...

I've been mostly trying to avoid having a reaction to what's been released, as it's all so press release style. Short writeup that sounds like it comes from a marketing department rather than a story teller, and a cover image showing a hero in a pose. Not much of an idea of what's actually coming, and based on past reboots probably not very accurate.

But yeah, I haven't seen any that actually stoked any interest, and a few that I really had a knee jerk negative reaction to.

Quite sad at seeing the end of SECRET SIX.

Of note, it doesn't look like that no-pants rule is actually a rule, based on Supergirl's costume. It's a decent guideline, but a bad rule.

Lindsay said...

I was going to come over and agree, about how there are a few books that I'm interested in, and add an update about Supergirl's weird knee-boot things and Blue Beetle's book being announced, and about how I'll probably at least flip through a bunch of titles I might have not heard of if not for the event, but then I saw what they did to my beloved Harley and now I'm full of fiery rage.


Zak said...

Ooof, that Harley is pretty rough.

Sarah said...

I don't keep up with comics much - I watch the movies based on comics, but I'm sadly not a genuine comicbook reader. But that pants rule IS upsetting. It implies that something is wrong with skirts. Maybe instead, they should put some badass man super hero in a man-skirt / kilt (unless they've already done that and I don't know about it).

Lindsay said...

Yes, absolutely. As a female-type person who spent a good amount of my childhood flatly refusing to wear skirts because I thought being girly was "wrong", I have a problem with the thinking.

To be fair, after I posted this a few more covers were released that seem to imply that the 'rule' is either just a rumor based on the fact that many superheroines seem to now have covered legs, or just more of a guideline. Supergirl has ditched her skirt for either bare legs or flesh-colored tights and poor Harley Quinn has gone from her standard head-to-toe leotard to wearing so little it couldn't possibly stay on. Sigh.

Either way, I think the points about costumes, potential rules or guidelines, and what they imply stand.

TG said...

I'm not a huge comics reader but have been wanting to try Birds of Prey because I know Gail Simone did some issues and I was a big fan of what she did with Wonder Woman. Hope the series is not in for a decline before I start.

Lindsay said...

TG: Simone did an iconic run on Birds of Prey starting in 2003. Soon after she stopped writing it, Birds of Prey was canceled, and then brought back with her writing again just last year. Her very last issue came out this past Wednesday. I highly recommend you read her run in graphic novels. I posted about the first two volumes when I read them Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds and Sensei and Student

I don't exactly trust that the new writer on Birds of Prey will be any good, although stranger things have happened. Gail Simone is currently finishing her other series, Secret Six, and will be writing the relaunch of Batgirl in September.

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