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She Has No Head! – Again, She Has No Head…

So there will be no 3 Chicks Review Comics this week, and I thought that the She Has No Head! post that I put up in lieu of it, should try to explain why.

Flashpoint/Post-Flashpoint has kinda killed us. Already. Maybe.

It’s possible we will rise up again, phoenix-like from the ashes, but we’re taking a breather.  The truth of the matter is that most every week dealing in comics as a feminist that’s hoping for good positive things is a mixed bag. It’s very ‘take one step forward, two back’ – and sometimes more than two.  For every great piece of news you get, you get one or two soul crushing pieces that tell you that nothing is ever going to get better, and maybe it’s even going to get worse.  And it’s exhausting.  And life in general is exhausting, so it would be really nice if comics were this awesome refuge that we could escape to, but while they were that at one time in my life, no longer.  Instead they are most frequently this really horrible train wreck that I have to rationalize my love of from week to week.  Sometimes they are brilliant and I’m reminded powerfully why I love them, why I love the medium, why I love superheroes, but far too frequently they make me really sad.  But like many things that make me sad or frustrated, I still love them and I believe deep down (this week it’s very deep, and well buried) that they can be better…and so we soldier on and try to fight the good fight and believe that in the end comics will be better for all that fighting.  But boy am I tired…

Look! If you assemble these two covers you can get a fully functioning Mera! How awesome! /sarcasm

As with anything that has not actually happened yet, I can’t know for sure how all of this Flashpoint/Post-Flashpoint stuff is going to shake out, what will be great and what will be horrible, I can only react to the news, and more than a few rumors that I’ve read and been fed.  But it’s hard not to react to the rumors and partial information.  And from what I’ve seen…here’s what concerns me greatly:

Cliff Chiang on Wonder Woman...silver linings!

First and foremost is that despite reading a lot about all of this, it’s still not quite clear to me what’s going to happen.  It sounds like DC is launching a “Marvel Ultimate” line of sorts, except they’re doing it while erasing their existing line…sort of.  It’s unclear what books will still be standing in tact, which will “re-launch” with apparently younger altered heroes and a zero starting point for those continuities and numbering, and which will just be canceled outright.  This, more than anything, just seems like a horribly botched PR job.  If it had been properly coordinated and issued, rather than parsed out in itty bitty bites, perhaps while I was mourning the loss of books x, y, and z, I could also get excited about books a, b, and c, or the creators attached to those books.  But instead the information has been spotty and unclear and I’m left totally at sea about anything that’s actually going to happen. I’m left clinging to tiny life rafts of good news (Cliff Chiang on Wonder Woman) and worried that so far there’s only one female creator on board (Gail Simone as co-writer on Firestorm).  And perhaps worse, my desire to pump any of my hard earned dollars into DC this summer, knowing that none of it is going to matter a whit come Fall, is basically nil.  Additionally, what I’ve seen of Flashpoint has me underwhelmed and frequently wildly frustrated (see: the role of Wonder Woman and the Amazons in Flashpoint, the whole “Mera Situation”, the lack of lady creators involved, etc.).  So the idea that from this thing that I already don’t like is going to spring a whole new comics world order?  Not encouraging.  And if it’s all just a stunt that will ALSO be undone…I mean…that will be even MORE frustrating.

SIGH. Barbara just isn't Batgirl to me anymore, she's beyond that now. And going back in time like this doesn't feel new and modern and fresh, it feels old and tired...because it is.

A new Batgirl #1, with Barbara Gordon as Batgirl is my biggest “ARGH!” right now.*  Nobody hated Stephanie Brown more than me (well, probably).  If you had told me Bryan Q. Miller could really make that character and book into something relevant I would have laughed in your face, and yet he has done wonders with the character. She’s still not the Batgirl I personally want, but you cannot deny that the book is consistently good and that he’s done a fabulous job of rehabbing that character.  To add insult to injury, she’s also the current recipient of a fantastic artist (Dustin Nguyen).  So why bother relaunching the book with Barbara in the uniform, something the majority of fans didn’t want two years ago and still don’t want now?  Now who will Stephanie Brown be?  Will she fade back into obscurity all so that they can take an already great character and move her backwards?  You had two powerful female leads – one a young college girl full of ambition and enthusiasm, and one a powerful brilliant young woman, who also happened to be one of the only non-able bodied characters in the entire comics universe, and you’ve traded them in for one hot young thing to jump around on rooftops?  Why?  I will never understand this.  And despite my love of Babs and of most things Bat, I won’t buy this book.  I just can’t do it.  Barbara Gordon has long ago transcended being a mere Batgirl…and though I understand they plan to de-age her and wipe away so much of what she was…I just don’t want that wiped away.  I’ve always understood the argument fans make about her paralysis not making sense in this world of magic and technology and freaking lazarus pits, I get it, I do.  But she was so good and important as she was that I believed she was a better and more important character in the role she had grown into as Oracle.  I don’t know that I’d be opposed to her growing from Oracle into something else and maybe even out of the chair eventually, but going back to Batgirl just feels like a step backward to me.  And maybe that’s the problem with so much of this…so much of it FEELS like a step backward, while we’re being told it’s moving forward.  But it doesn’t feel that way, it feels old hat.  That’s why an “Ultimate” line of sorts – showing an alternate universe where everyone is younger that tells stories free of all that heavy continuity and with an enthusiasm for freedom of the clean slate that comes with that – really could have worked and been exciting.  But to wipe out things that were good, things that were great, feels like moving backwards.  It’s very “throw the baby out with the bathwater” and I don’t get it.

*Of course DC is saying this isn’t Babs, and so rumors are swirling that it’s Charlie (aka Misfit)…but that honestly makes even LESS sense.  The rumor is actually that DC is saying it’s Charlie, who will be paired romantically with Tim, who is the new Nightwing (more on that below)…but WHY?  Tim and Stephanie have the history…so again I ask…what sense does this make?!

I'm not sure I'd call Wondy's costume here anything resembling "practical"

DC has promised more “practical” clothing for their female characters.  On the surface of this statement, I want to be overjoyed.  OVERJOYED.  However, the sole image released when that promise was made shows a super busty Wonder Woman, in her very NON-practical bustier (see above).  Worse, the bustier has been slightly redesigned to be even less practical by removing the straps – which was the sole improvement of that costume over the old as far as I’m concerned anyway.  So I am left wondering if anyone at DC actually knows the definition of practical.  Also, on closer inspection the “edict” seems to be mostly about women wearing pants.  I’m certainly a fan of this in the broader scheme and if it can eliminate things like ever needing to see Supergirl’s panties ever again, along with a variety of other costume sins then a big Hell. To. The. Yeah.  But reading the statement, especially when paired with the released image feels pretty half-assed and not entirely convincing.  What about the unzipped Catwoman, the boob-windowed Power Girl, the I don’t even know what to call it Star Sapphires and Starfires of the DCU…?  Will pants solve their problems too?  I think not.

But maybe I’m being too literal in reading the statement…maybe real costume change is coming for the ladies of the DCU.  Time will tell.  A Teen Titans image released recently, gives some hope as it’s practical costumes all around for the ladies – including Vixen who has always had a crazy low cut costume, and the unnamed woman on the bottom left who looks like Donna Troy but apparently is not.  So maybe there is hope?  Hope is dangerous though…it’s so easily dashed.  And does THIS look like the bastion of practicality?

Catwoman, Power Girl, Starfire, and Star Sapphire are just the tip of the problem costume iceberg. Be bold DC, don't issue a toothless edict...go all the way man.

Ah, the inspriation for the title of my column...the more things change, the more they stay the same!

And then we come to some of the Flashpoint nonsense that has been so frustrating, like the fact that – She Has No Head! literally…AGAIN (see Mera, above).  As I’ve talked about a few times before, the title of this column was inspired by this famously horrible DC Cry For Justice image (see right).  It wasn’t the first, or the last headless lady to show up in comics, but I find the recent ones of Mera, and specifically of Wonder Woman’s violence against Mera, particularly disgusting.  I don’t understand a company that does this.  And as usual I have to drag out my CONTEXT argument.  I don’t suppose there’s anything wrong with a character being beheaded in a world of comic violence, but in the context of the way women are generally treated in comics from being hyper-sexualized and constantly objectified to being fridged on a regular and alarming basis, I have to say it’s a baaaaaad idea.  And I don’t know where the voice of reason is in the room that stands up and posits to the rest of the room that it’s maybe not a great idea.  And seeing the bad decisions being made in Flashpoint only reinforces my fears that the same kind of bad decisions and limited vision are being applied across the board to their “re-launch”.

Like our fearless leader Brian Cronin, I don’t REALLY care about re-numbering.  I think I care about it a bit more than Brian does, but at the end of the day I’m after good comics, so I’m all for the plan that gets us the best comics possible and if that has to come with a #1 on it, I’m okay with that.  I don’t love it, but I’m okay with it.  But I do worry about the ideas behind all of this and why these #1′s are supposed to be different than any other #1′s we’ve seen a million times before.  I worry about some good books and characters that I suspect are going to get lost in the shuffle.  The rumor about Lois and Clark not being together is alarming because I’d be surprised if Lois doesn’t end up out in the cold if that happens.  I’m also not wild about Diana and Clark together for a variety of reasons. Word is that Zatanna’s book is done, that Power Girl will no longer exist, or at least not in her own title.  Secret Six’s future seems wildly uncertain.  Rumor has it Gail Simone is off Birds of Prey, which makes no sense in any universe.  These are the books I buy.  They don’t always please me, but they’re the characters I’m invested in and committed to and now their futures are uncertain at best. 

News is slowly leaking out about the Bat-books, some of it good – it looks like there will be a Catwoman book (but the cover art is horrible), and most of it alarming – like the fact that Scott Snyder will no longer be on Detective Comics, which he has turned into one of the best comics out there in a few short months.  Instead Tony Daniel will be on it.  No disrespect to Mr. Daniel, but his name on something is an automatic pass for me.  So in one fell swoop Detective goes from being the best bat book on the stands to one I’m not interested in even trying out.  And Snyder is moving to Batman #1…but without Jock, or Francavilla.  We’ve got a statement that says Bruce will be back to being the only man in the bat costume…but it seems crazy to start up this whole Batman Inc. thing, which really changed the entire Bat-universe, only to drop it a year in.  What’s the point?  Damian fans (of which I am one) are getting to keep him…somehow…despite the general de-aging of the universe…which makes no sense…?  And the image released for Nightwing, which has been suggested IS Dick (in part since Bruce is now the only Batman), looks like a cross between Dick and Tim…which is kind of alarming.  I finally get a glimpse of Cass Cain, and better yet a code name (Blackbat) which suggests a potential future of some kind and now…well, now what?  Do I dare to dream of a Blackbat #1?  Seems too risky to even hope for.  And what about Batwoman?  Batwoman is sometimes the sole reason I don’t chuck the whole mainstream comics thing entirely and yet the news remains sketchy.  I hope that the push of her debut to the fall just means that they’re going to leave her book largely intact and let her #1 go out and as planned and all will be well, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still concerned.

But at the end of the day, my concern is less about any of these specific issues, announcements and images, and more a broad lack of faith in the architects behind these ideas.  Which I suppose separates me from a lot of the comics community, who are genuinely excited about these things.  Don’t get me wrong I’m jealous of people that feel excited…REAL JEALOUS.  But I just don’t have some great and lasting faith in Geoff Johns or Jim Lee, who though I’m sure are wonderful people who I intend no disrespect to, they’re not exactly my ideal comics architects.  Learning that the fate of my superheroes lies in their hands does not inspire confidence nor excitement.  It inspires dread…and more than a little fear.  I wish I could be less emotional about it all, I really do.  For example, for a smart, savvy, and much less emotional (and thus superior) take on so much of this, please check out frequent CSBG commenter Dean Hacker’s bullet points breakdown of the re-launch here.  But that’s not me.  I’m all “WHAT ABOUT SO AND SO…!”  And then there’s ranting and hand wringing.  I can’t help it.  I care too much.  And despite all of Greg Burgas’s trying to remind me that caring about mainstream comics is a fool’s errand…I haven’t quite learned my lesson yet.

But here’s what I’m think I’m going to do…because I have to find the silver linings in this somewhere and since I still love comics and write about them for a living, or a partial one at least, it’s in my best interest to not just be mad at comics all the time.  I’m going to start up a new comics project, tentatively (but brilliantly!) called THE COMICS PROJECT (I know, I know, my brilliance knows no bounds).  The project is in its infant stages, but I suspect will be based on my Ladies Comics Project and will involve me soliciting would-be, ex, and new readers of comics for this slew of number ones.  There will probably be a questionnaire and maybe some essays.  We’ll see.  It’s all very early, and born of a desperation to try to see all of this change from a different angle.  Like most fans, my own viewpoint is narrow and very much mine.  But I love this industry and am interested in things that might make it more viable, more robust, more long-lasting.  So I’m open to change and I understand I might not like all of it, very few things in life are tailored specifically to my liking, so why should comics be?  So far I see a lot I don’t like, and a lot that worries me, but time will tell what it all means.  So stay tuned as I refine my COMICS PROJECT idea, and hopefully come next fall I’ll have something interesting to say about all this.

75 Comments

I like the Power Girl.

[...] new SHE HAS NO HEAD! is up on CSBG.  I finally weigh in on all this Flashpoint/Post-Flashpoint DC Relaunch [...]

Miss Thompson,

for a character like Starfire (where the culture was long shown to be ‘clothing optional’ and was equal oportunity) I don’t mind the scantly clad characters (Is Marvel’s Hulk also offensive?). (one of) Power Girl’s reasoning for the ‘boob window’ was actually touching to me (That she couldn’t find a symbol like Superman’s). The Star Saphire ‘stripperific’ outfits otoh, have received a large amount of well deserved scorn.

Cheese (and Beef) cake have their place, but like their food counterparts, in moderation.

Like you, I don’t want to see Babs ‘demoted’ to Batgirl. She has transended Batgirl, just as Dick has transended Robin. I have grave feelings about this ‘not-quite-a-reboot’ but my wallet is sighing in relief.

I feel your pain. I really, really do. When I saw those two covers featuring Mera, I was sickened… especially after the way she was spotlighted so wonderfully in Brightest Day. Now I know, Flashpoint is an alternate reality, and will probably (hopefully?) not have any far-reaching ramifications given it’s treatment of Wonder Woman, Mera (evidently) and others, but still. That imagery is really disappointing. I think I’ve read that Mera will be featured prominently in the new Geoff Johns’ Aquaman series, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

And this isn’t even about the treatment of Mera in Flashpoint (although if this isn’t the classic Woman in a Refrigerator… getting offed to make her man angry, I don’t know what is), it’s all of the other points you raise, and raise rationally and reasonably. Where are the women creators? Where is the faith that the powers-that-be are going to do something good? What’s wrong with society today when this persistent horrible treatment/presentation or women is what sells comics?

Sigh. It does kind of want to make just give up.

I’m extremely wary of any “practicality-edict”. Frankly, that anonymous girl character on the JLI cover isn’t stoking the embers of my staunch feminism. She looks like what a demure, modest female should look like in a male-dominated world. Bland, flat heeled and inoffensive.

Aw, Power Girl.

I think I’ll go sit down, someplace far.

Brilliant write-up! Much of the Internet talk reverberates with the same fears and concerns you’ve highlighted. With every positive, there seems to be an equal if not larger negative looming in the post-Flashpoint future. However, only time will truly tell. I’d like to believe the bigwigs at DC when they tell consumers not to worry (Chris Burnham stating “You should be extremely excited, not extremely worried” or JM Straczynski stating “what DiDio is doing is correct, massively gutsy, and long overdue”), but we’ve heard big promises before that have failed to live up to their hype. Furthermore, I can’t remember the last time company higher-ups and big name writers NEEDED to reassure their readers about an upcoming drastic maneuvering in narrative structure. In a way it’s almost openly admitting that there are going to be serious problems and things you are going to hate come September. But then again, maybe we should take this line of dialogue at face value? But who knows? Like you, I’ll continue my frustrating relationship with mainstream comics because I love them, no matter what insanity occurs. Again, brilliant article and I look forward to COMICS PROJECT!

I have to agree with you on the whole ‘news trickling’ trick that DC is pulling and how counter enthusiastic it is. I keep hearing stuff I don’t like with the occasional, “YES!” but mostly I’m like WTF? or ‘wait and see’. As to the whole Batgirl thing, I don’t know because I don’t read and I’m not a big fan of the Bat titles (though I do love Damian and I have kind of been reading the trades for Batman & Robin from my library) I thought most Bat fans wanted Barbara Gordon back as Batgirl. And Stephanie Brown, wasn’t she spoiler?

I don’t know what DC is doing, they say they’re trying to be more progressive about their comics, adding minorities and what not, which sounds like a good idea but I think the idea might form more naturally if there were actually more minority writers. Every time I see the artists they’re all minorities but the writers are always white men. If they truly want diversity in their comics they should diversify their writing base and then diversity might come naturally to the comics world rather than a forced reboot. I remember reading the trade version of Blue Beetle with Jaime and I was so disappointed in the direction of the book and its storyline, the character has since grown on me, but more from what’s happened in other books than there. It just seemed so … bad, and trying way too hard to be relevant to today’s issues without actually touching on any of them in any meaningful way.

DC should actively try to recruit female and minority writers, and while I’m a fan of Jim Lee I think him doing all the redesigning and Geoff Johns heading off the recreation of the DCNu is a bad idea. Two visions on a line wide series of books? That’s a bad idea. Even Marvel has multiple architects. And truly I think most books or more comic books would work if people would just allow the writers of those books to be the architects of their characters and lines. But all we can do is hope and see. I just sigh in resignation because if this tanks they’ll just reboot everything again.

I dunno if that’s Dick or Tim in that Nightwing suit, but whoever he is, he seems to have stolen his chest emblem from Terry McGinnis.

I picked up Ultimate Spider-Man when it started. I hadn’t read a main Marvel U Spider-Man book since the late ’70′s. There was nothing about the stories that were compelling. I wonder how Amazing Spider-Man sells compared to USM. DC tried an “Ultimate” approach, I think, with “All-Star” approaches to Superman and Batman…

I’m not thrilled with the idea of a reboot. It seems that with some great ideas always come some bad. Maybe Aquaman and Hawkman will be better than they have been. I don’t see Martian Manhunter in that JLA picture. What place does Batgirl have alongside Batwoman? Where’s Huntress these days?…

You know out of your collection of half-naked women–Power Girl
seems to be the most covered up.

Yep, I feel your pain as well. Seems to me that Aug. 31, 2011 may become known as “the day mainstream comics superheroes died.” Or not. Anyway, all of this non-information (except for stuff that should leave me seething) is numbing me more and more. It’s like I can’t seem to get myself to care anymore.

DC certainly hasn’t cared about Wonder Woman for years. Why do they think I’ll believe them when they say she’s suddenly going to be better than ever, come September? Wonder Woman’s main tool is her lasso, which she uses in controlled and positive ways. She’s not supposed to drag a sword and/or axe around with her just because DC thinks its 69-year history of peaceful Amazons is wimpy and now wants to revert to the classic misogynist, ancient Greek model of blood-ravening, bosomy chick warriors.

And they give us bits like “Power Girl’s front window is because she could never find the right symbol” crapola, or “she asserts her feminism and self-confidence by displaying her breasts” or “the window’s there to keep people from looking at her face, which might give away her secret ID.” We get animalistic females dressed in tiny bits of cloth like Starfire. Zatanna’s chest suddenly swells to huge proportions, and she likes to keep her blouse unbuttoned. It’s all sexist crap, and worse, sexist crap that’s wrapped up and presented to us as if it were proof of DC’s raging respect for feminism and women in general.

Personally, I don’t see a glut of “oh boy! Can’t wait!” comments on the message boards I visit. And I don’t see DC doing any damage control. I have to wonder: if they couldn’t have orchestrated the announcements and reacted to all this better, why do some people think that they’re going to create a better DCnU?

Sexism, bad stories, dull characters, little diversity, and shock violence—bah.

“Seems to me that Aug. 31, 2011 may become known as “the day mainstream comics superheroes died.” Or not.”

I’m gonna go ahead and put my money on “not.”

Thanks for the link and the kind words.

It almost worth some of the dumb decisions that mainstream comics publishers make to read you passionate responses to them. I just wish that the decision-makers at the various publishers would read them. You know and care deeply about comics. I would also be willing to wager that your point of view is much closer to the mainstream than what we see represented in modern superhero comics.

For some reason rumored “pants for all female characters” edict really bothers me. As you rightly note, it does not really fix the objectification problem. The second issue is that it makes the design of the various female DCs more similar. Design really is personality to a large degree in comics. That is doubly true when you consider how many artists use the same basic female (and male) body types for every character they draw. The lone bit of personality that some these characters show in a group setting are their costume detailing. Supergirl’s mini-skirt speaks to who she is. The same is true of the original HG Peter design for Wonder Woman.

Problematic costume details are an issue for me when they undercut the intended personality of the character. Carol Ferris is a professional woman with business ambitions in a male-dominated industry. She would never dress in a swimsuit with a plunging neckline in any context. It violates the character. Starfire is an ingenue type. While she might not be modest, her nearly nude costuming is badly dated.

In short, the costumes need a top-to-bottom rethinking and not some dictatorial edict.

Yeah, prior to the announcement of the relaunch I’d already decided to skip Flashpoint, because I’m not that interested in event Elseworlds stories. The issue 2 variant and Colin Smith’s essay on the depiction of the Amazons in issue 1 furthered my disinterest in buying the series, http://toobusythinkingboutcomics.blogspot.com/2011/05/on-flashpoint-1-why-dont-more-women.html. What really creeps me out with the variant is how Mera is still drawn with ‘sexy face’ despite being a severed head.

So far, I have to say that I’ve been pretty underwhelmed by the DC relaunch announcements, not many of the creative teams and concepts have really drawn me in. Azzarello and Chiang are interesting if only because Azzarello is about the last writer I would’ve expected to be working on Wonder Woman. A lot of the creative teams (especially on the Batbooks) feel very samey and it doesn’t look like DC is bringing in much new blood to go along with the new #1s. I’ll also be gutted if the relaunch kills Batman Inc prematurely.

Very interested to hear that you’re expanding with The Comics Project, I was a big fan of The Ladies Comics Project series which I thought gave a very interesting outlook not just a female perspectives on comics but a broader view of how non-comics readers approach the medium. Whilst I’m interested in seeing new readers perspectives on the 52 #1s, it’d also be good to see Marvel and independent work covered as well, if only so you don’t end up doing free market research for DC.

I’m very worried that DC is horribly fucking up the Batbooks. Morrison and the others have been doing a great job. It’s especially problematic since Morrison had two years of Batman Inc. planned out. The entire reboot is worrisome. I’ve been culling my pull list lately, so I’ve already dropped the Green Lantern books after War of the Green Lanterns and Batman & Robin after the new Red Hood arc. So far the only confirmed book I’m buying is The Flash. I want to buy Batman Inc. and whatever Tim is called now, Booster Gold, Secret Six, and JSA. Anything else that looks good is getting a trade wait, or potentially month later digital download depending on what the format is. I refuse to pay for something like Marvel where it’s streaming. It needs to be a real download.

I find myself wondering at times if DC Comics is, at the end of the day, is just a rotten foundation for the type of comics you would like to read. We are talking about Character Concepts from the 60s and, in some cases, much earlier, times when Sexism and Racism were pretty entrenched in society. If your foundation has that rot, and when you have people in charge who clearly love that foundation, how much can you expect comic books not to reflect that sexism / racism?

Marvel probably isn’t much better. Third party superheros can be quite good, but just don’t have the cachet of a Batgirl / Wonder Woman. Not sure there’s a solution.

I have to agree although Jesus and Collin pretty much said what I was going to.

From my POV (someone who’s more of a Marvel guy but I read some DC comics over the years until they were canceled and someone who’s slowing dropping comics in general) this announcement is terrible. Reboot or not just give me the damn info. If they want to get me back into comics they need to make it clear what direction the DCU is going and start off with your top titles (none of this 10 books most of which by writters with poor reps or brand new writter) then by th end you can disclose your Mr. T and Firestorm (ie titles that won’t last the year).

For new readers this soft reboot (which is what its looking like) won’t be drawing them in. I feel it’s more confusing to say Firestorm is a new guy so don’t worry abotu what happened prior as opposed to Green Lantern who’s past appearences do matter. Or even worse for the Batman line where some of it does matter but parts won’t is just too damn confusing for a newbie to jump in with. If they weren’t going to reboot then as a newbie (like I was back in the mid 90′s with the X-Men line) you know there’s history here and if you want you can see they’re past adventures that may come up again but we’ll make sure it’s accessible to you.

To summerize DC should have been laying this all on the line as a way to hook in new readers (but this push should have happend in Sept when the books are about to come out not now when a new reader is likely to forget about it come Sept) with info on all to books within a few days (a 10 books a day press release is understandable) and what major past continuity is in or out (does a new reader need to know about Blackest Night/New Krypton/Infinite Crisis/War of the Gods or is Superman still married or does Wally West exist).

Like you Kelly, I’m also super skeptical about the people running this. It seems like the same group responsible for a lot of the problems I had with DC in the past so these promises of more diversity, new reader frendly, great stories isn’t brining me back. That said, if I hear some book ends up being excellent I’ll pick it up but since it’ll essentially mean I’m just getting the trades that’s not helping DC’s purpose here.

I know I’m kind of rambling and not really talking about the “She has no head” thing (which I’m completely with you there) so sorry about that. But I can’t really get rilled up about Mera lossing her head when it almost seems tame compared to John’s other efforts and DC’s history here. As for Oracle, one of my forays into DC a few years ago was Suicide Squad and while I dislike her stuck in a wheelchair her growth as Oracle was great and really cemented her as a favorite. I agree that Batgirl (especially “girl”) seems like a massive step back.

For the writter issue, honestly looking at the lineup so far, it’s obvious DC just doesn’t have talented writers in general. I mean JT Krul on at least 2 titles, a bunch of artists doing their first writing gig. If they’re doing even a soft reboot and considering the lack of talent they seem to have on most of the titles so far why not hire soem of the women writers and let them cut loose on say Batgirl or Powerwoman or Birds of Prey or god forbid a title not only about women like JLI, Hawkman or whathaveyou. A new take on these characters would be something I’d pick up and it’s not like Hawkman is going to last with the lineup it has so why not take a chance here or on Green Arrow?

Man, when I saw that Flashpoint cover, I facepalmed, then I thought “Yeah, Kelly’s definitely going to have something to say about this.”

Though I think if you put the two covers together, you end up with more a bobble-headed Mera than anything, which may be the most mirthful thing to come out of Flashpoint.

As to the post Point DCU, I feel a lot like I did when “Heroic Age” was rolled out at Marvel–yes, I’d like to beleive it’s a fresh start, but when the same people who were doing all the bleak stuff are now saying “now we do fun stuff again!” I just don’t have the faith that this group can make a fresh go of it without falling into the same cliches that led us to the point where WW is offering a free severed Mera head with every purchase of Flashpoint #2.

I would be happy to be proven wrong, however.

On the other hand, if DC wants to get out of the comics business, they’re certainly taking a novel approach.

And remember, kids: DC stands for “Dubious Continuity.”

@ El Bryanto:

I can’t speak for Kelly, but what I find appalling about DC with regard to gender is not its legacy, but the modern reaction to that legacy.

To be honest, the Silver and Bronze Age legacy of DC Comics is remarkably progressive on gender. This is a contrast with their utter neglect of the question of race and likely in contrast with their intent. Those eras were contemporary with Second Wave feminism, which (as I understand it) had three primary concerns:

1. As women moved from being dependent upon work within the home to work outside the home, DC had a range from Carol Ferris on the far left to Iris West on the far right. Ferris explicitly rejected romantic attachment in favor of career in her earliest appearances, whereas Iris West seemed to be barely engaged with her job and focused narrowly on Barry.
2. As women sought equality both at home and in the workplace, DC had a range of female characters ranging from Sue Dibny on the far right to Jean Loring on the far left. Dibny was an heiress who moved (essentially) from her father’s house to her husband’s. Loring was so fiercely competitive that she rejected Ray Palmer’s proposals explicitly to prove herself an equal in a demanding profession.
3. As women dealt with the sexual revolution, DC had a range of characters from Diana Prince on the far left to Mera on the far right. Diana was from a faintly foreign culture that plainly had vastly more permissive attitudes toward sex. Mera gave up literally everything she knew to marry Arthur Curry within months of meeting him.

Frankly, one would be hard pressed to build a better post-feminist context if that was your intent. There were plenty of characters that landed on the right side of the spectrum on one issue and the left on another. DC continued in that vein through the creation of Power Girl and Huntress. PG was a software entrepreneur in her original incarnation with a no nonsense attitude despite her costume. Huntress was an attorney, who seemed to have inherited her value system from her parents.

That context is what has made the fates of those characters in the years since so shocking.

“I don’t understand a company that does this.”

What’s to understand? DC is largely run by people with hateful attitudes toward women. I’m surprised I have to explain this.

Just wanted to add…

Well the ‘birds of prey’ reboot didn’t seem to get the pants memo. Shame, i’m not really up for reading ‘Girls gone X-Force in Gotham’

I’m torn on Batgirl. On the one hand, it’s not Steph, and it’s like Barbara’s being ‘demoted’. On the other, Gail is writing… (At least she’s fully dressed)

I must admit, most of the DC books I currently read are female-protagonist books, Supergirl, Batgirl, Power Girl, Zatanna, BOP, Gotham City Sirens, etc. I’ve always enjoyed a strong female lead character doing what is traditionally a male-oriented protector role. (Many thanks due to Chris Claremont among others)

Amazingly enough, reading this article and viewing the images, I realized that I’ve completely overlooked the sexualized nature of the costumes and spent my time focusing on the characters thermselves, the stories, where these people are headed.

THAT is what scares me most about this Flashpoint thing. It does indeed seem in many ways like a colossal step back for character development, and in other ways like appealing to the baser side of the character’s natures (like Diana beheading Mera).

All in all it sounds really unappealing, so wake me up when it’s over so I can read about the characters I care about again. And get Diana back in her REAL costume while you’re at it.

I genuinely believe 2011 is going to go down as the year of the beginning of the end for DC comics. I see a whole lot of bad, ill-advised decision making going on that’s alienating a lot of longtime readers, female readers and others, shafting retailers, and making a lot of rather foolish assumptions regarding some ‘young new audience’ they’re reaching out to that frankly doesn’t exist to quite the extent they’ve convinced themselves.

The trouble is, if they screw up their own company it will potentially have a negative ripple effect through the rest of the industry. I just find it tragic to see a company I loved and trusted being run with such mismanagement, and a lot of decisions clearly being made to stoke Geoff Johns new Bendis’-sized Ego.

Sadly, I find myself ready to drop everything and wash my hands of the company after more than 20 years. I just refuse to encourage this by going along.

And I miss Oracle already. I rarely even reflected on her being wheelchair bound in most of the time I’ve been reading comic books. She’s just always been such a great, strong character, a leader, an inspirational woman who took a disability and didn’t let it stop her, but gave her an even greater resolve to do good. It’s a great tragedy that DC feel the need to undo all that characterization, as well as the long years of development of other characters I, and we all love.

Or, best case scenario, x-number of years down the line the whole thing gets retconned and they put everything back the way it should be. Though hopefully without women in refrigerators, minorities in matchboxes and the general increase in sexism and racial stereotyping we’ve been seeing.

I won’t hold my breath though.

I don’t understand the confusion about how the marketing roll out is being conducted. One commenter up thread mentioned this should have been done closer to September…but when has that ever been the case in comic book marketing? Roll out and interviews in advance of solicitations have been the order of the day to drive advance orders at the retailer level since forever. And frankly the piecemeal approach is ideal to keep DC top of mind for the entire June solicit cycle….after all…when was the last time that you saw Marvel on the above fold CBR articles since this hit. Parts of this campaign seem particularly scattershot if only because of the large number of reader generated scoops (covers in advance through web-sleuthing) and rumour trafficking which are outside of DC’s control.

Confused? Tune out the announcements until the July solicits are announced which will provide a much clearer picture.

That said…I think this is a real bad idea, and it’s doing nothing to make me pick up DC books as a new reader. Kelly’s excellent observations on the treatment of women is just one of any number of things that have largely turned me off mainstream superhero faire.

Make mine indie.

i feel the same way about Babs being batgirl again.

@Manglr, I guess I forgot to add that I know they’re doing this now due to the nature of the Direct Market, but since the whole purpose here appears to be directed towards people who aren’t reading comics (hence the online push, the revamp, etc) and those people for whom this sounds neat will go to their store and find out they have to wait 2-3 months to be able to buy it (or worse have to pre-pay 2 months in advance for the books they do want). That’s the issue I’m talking about in that paragraph. This is getting a lot of mainstream attention now but by the time the books comes out for these new readers most will have completely forgotten about it.

@Manglr:

I think you’ve got the right idea in all of this. I stopped (seriously) following most Marvel and DC books about 10 years ago. Have gotten back on board a couple of times since then–usually when a writer that I like sets the agenda–but given the recent upsurge in event based books I’ve largely given up. Instead I follow creators that I like and read the internet’s analysis of the rest (and largely laugh). Comics can be a lot of fun but most books aren’t worth the time or money that they cost.

Happy to hear that others enjoy them, but Marvel and DC, largely, aren’t for me anymore. I will probably pick up, at most, three or four of relaunched titles.

@MattK…I suppose the grand question here…as it is with nearly all Marvel/DC marketing…is: who is this ‘new reader’ that they’re chasing?

Sure, DC is dominating the comic industry media cycle for the month. All of which are pointing directly towards the most active readers in the industry. We’re the type that read all of the solicts, comments on blogs, and are pretty outspoken about our opinions. From DC’s perspective, I suppose I’m a potential new reader, but that’s most because I was pretty much a life long Marvel guy before burning out on their stuff over the past few years.

However, that marketing push isn’t going to do much of anything to get someone into a LCBS that isn’t already going to one. A true ‘new reader’…i.e. someone who’s never bought a book isn’t going to hear anything about this, and probably wouldn’t be quite sure what to make of it at any rate.

What I’ll be interested to see if how this mass blitz of 50 number issues plays out in sales. I can’t help but wonder whether something like ‘Batwoman’ is going to see a much smaller readership launch as it gets lost in the shuffle of the new Justice League, Detective Comics, Action Comics, etc. At the beginning of the year, that seemed like a pretty obvious top 5 selling book at least for the first month…now it’s got a much more crowded field to play in.

I don’t know if you heard the news today, but Batwoman is coming out as planned and Gail is doing Batgirl (and Babs is gunna be in the costume). Gail is great. I’ve never read a standard ‘hero jumping on rooftops’ story from her. Even her Wonder Woman was batty. It had talking Gorrilas and jaunts through hell!

I know she will do an excellent Babs as Batgirl even if this is not what I want. Maybe they will keep her history of disability? Who knows.

I would try to see some of the positive in all this mess. DC is trying to make comics (slightly) more girl friendly and this is the biggest step forward DC has EVER made for diversity. I mean, Batwing, a character who has only been around for a couple of months has his own ongoing! Cyborg is playing a big part in the latest crossover and is even on the freakin Justice League.

Yes, this is all a mess. Yes Flahpoint is TERRIBLE. But I see good in this. Don’t give up!

@dwsord: I’m well aware of today’s developments post my post going up.

I find most of them to be bad news. Confirmation that Barbara is no longer Oracle and will be Batgirl is very bad news to me, even if Simone is writing it. I don’t think I can come along for this. And if you need more explanation why…check out Jill Pantozzi’s excellent Newsarama oped – she said it better than I ever will:

http://www.newsarama.com/comics/oracle-is-stronger-than-batgirl-110606.html

The only solid happy news is that Batwoman #1 seems like it will remain untouched. But realizing that the only 100% good news to me in all of this is coming from the one book untouched by all of this…does not encourage positive thinking overall.

I don’t like what we’re seeing on Batgirl, I don’t like the changes we’re seeing on BoP (except it’s great that Saiz is staying on), I don’t like the creative team for Catwoman (and that cover is absolute shit – compare it to what we saw from Brubaker and Cooke years ago – how far we’ve fallen!)…so all the “chick” news thus far is pretty damn bad. I’m a sad sad girl today as things just seem to get worse here.

This doesn’t feel too girl friendly to me, and so far, the diversity is not exactly revolutionary.

But thanks for encouraging me not to give up. :) I’ll try.

I would never expect ‘revolutionary’ from a corporation like DC. So this is about as close as they get. I do think, to minimize DC’s investment in ‘diversity’ from all this news is a mistake.

DC just does not have high profile black characters. And that is bad. But they are making an effort to ‘grow’ them with Cyborg and Batwing. I wouldn’t sneeze at it. And did you notice that both of those character’s don’t have the word ‘black’ in their name? No Blackpanther or Blacklightning nonsense. Sure, Batwing is a legacy character, but if you are going to be any legacy character a Bat is probably the best you are going to get.

DC has a long way to go, but before they showed absolute NO initiative to become more diverse. This is good news.

You are right though about Batgirl not being as interesting a character as Oracle. I agree 100%. Cass was also a more interesting character (imo) than Babs!girl. Steph had the benefit of excellent writing and art. But we didn’t need her. Do we need Babs as Batgirl anymore? No. But if we are gunna get her may as well get a Simone book, though right? If reading comics is about having fun and enjoying a good story why limit count out something that could be good before giving it a chance?

Also, I have a fairly high tolerance for cheesecake and exploitative art (is a man)… but that Catwoman cover is disgusting. And frankly nothing Gilliam March has done makes me want to open a comic. The less we talk about that the better…

My first thought on seeing the alternate cover was “Well, they found her head.” [I remember a day when a severed head on a cover would be gross and dripping in blood* rather than looking like it's waiting for someone to kiss her and make her feel better.]

DC Comics is a business, right? I mean, they have meetings and discuss things and plan their objectives and communicate with a seasoned marketing [hack hack cough] team and all that. So why do they continue to do such stupid things? The inmates are running amok. (I know he’s a VP & Publisher and all that, but seriously? letting Jim Lee tweak costumes? The man can’t design for crap. This is the man who gives us straps & buckles out the wazzoo, floss in women’s wazzoos, bare-midriffs-in-otherwise-fully-covered-and-armored-women-who’ve-narrowly-escaped-disembowelment and the new ’90s flashback Wonder Woman costume.)

Retailers need to figure out their ordering structure for this and to do that they need input from fans who need something to get excited about rather than the slap in the face that current favorites are liquidated. Nothing I’ve heard about so far sounds terribly interesting. (Justice League, Dean’s “almost surefire hit” does nothing for me – I’m not a Jim Lee fan) with the exception of Fury of Firestorm, partly because Gail Simone is co-writing it and partly because I’m interested to learn about the nature of the dual writing for this book.)

Comics are serialized. If you’re going to get me interested in following the story, I have a reasonable expectation of being able to follow the story to its natural conclusion without being jerked around by the latest “event” or corporate restructuring or other gimick. And I’m one of the “new readers” they should be pursuing – I still love comics but haven’t read monthlies regularly in a decade or so. I occasionally get collections, but these days most of the ones I pick up are Golden/Silver/Bronze Age or (largely) recommended by you, Kelly (Batwoman was the best of your recommendations).

I’m just shaking my head. I hope this works for them, I really do, but yeesh…

*Well, no, actually i’m not that old, Crime Suspenstories #22 came out a decade before I was born.

And why has Catwoman taken off her pink bra to recline on the gargoyle? Is she trying to seduce pigeons? She is a cat, I guess…

Maybe you should just switch to reading Marvel (Avengers Academy is pretty good).

I lost all interest in DC when they did something similar back in the ’80s (to be fair, I wasn’t reading very much DC by that point anyway). And I’ve never had much desire to get back into them since then, although I have read a handfull of stories here and there, and I’m sure they still have some good stuff.

As Keith said just above– comics are serialised. One of the main attractions of a serial is that there is a history of stories that came before, and the knowledge that the stories will continue for the forseeable future. When you read stories froma shared universe, you know that you’re just getting a part of what’s there, and as you read more you fill in the gaps and get a better idea of the wider world that’s in there.
But when a company erases it all and starts over, as DC keeps doing, it just violates the whole point of serials and connected stories. The world that the reader has been in the process of exploring is tossed into the trash and the readers are expected to start all over again. I just don’t understand how anyone could think this is a good policy– ever.

Of course, Marvel has been known to re-write parts of their history, too, but at least they try to limit it and keep the bigger world intact. (I still don’t like it when they do it, though.)

So if the only book I really, really care (like, PAY ACTUAL MONEY FOR care) about is Batwoman, I should be overjoyed?

Hooray!

I thought Jill’s piece on Barbara/Oracle was well written and I agree with the assessment that making her Batgirl again does seem like a demotion of character.
I just started reading Batgirl about 5 months ago and now that character (Stephanie Brown) appears to be getting the boot. Seems like DC is just determined to tick off fans of all female Batman family members. They ticked off a lot of people with Stephanie’s apparent death, then ticked off the Cass fans when they bumped her aside to bring back Stephanie as Batgirl.
It also appears from the Red Hood and the Outsiders cover that pants are the only significant change on female costumes — ample cleavage exposure is still the rule of the day.
I’m not interested in a Birds of Prey book that isnt written by Gail (they tried that in 2009 and it didn’t work). And as much as I really enjoy her work and I’m sure she will do a great job with Batgirl, I don’t want Barbara back in that costume so I can’t go along for that ride.
I also find it strange they have this great new direction with Batman, Inc., but they are abandoning it after less than a year for this reboot.
The leadership at the top of DC Editorial just seems so dysfunctional. They can’t seem to make up their mind what direction they want to go so they keep jumping off the path and going off on some different road every couple of years.
I also have zero faith in Jim Lee’s ability to maintain anything resembling a reasonable schedule on a monthly title. I can’t in good faith buy the relaunched Justice League title even though I like the team make-up and think Geoff Johns will do a good job with it just because it is either going to be delayed or loaded with fill-in artists at every turn.

…………………………………………………………………………………….rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
THAT DOES IT!!!! I gave DC one chance, ONE CHANCE to prove me wrong about this ‘not-quite-a-reboot’, but now they’ve gone too far!!!! People, I urge you, if you want to retain some basic grasp of the properties you know, save your dough for the Retro-Active titles. Regressive moves like this, they’re not worth JACK. You want something that’ll give you more bang for your buck, buy a Transformers toy or go see a revival of a Japanese monster movie, or go indulge yourself in a good novel, but stay away from this backwards-thinking misfire waiting to happen!

I swear, I’m going to wear at SDCC this year a t-shirt with the words “ENOUGH ALREADY!!!! GIVE REBOOTS THE BOOT!!!!” at the DC panel, and give them a piece of my mind!!! IN A FORMAL, EDUCATED MANNER, to see if those flawed idealists have any brain power whatsoever to justify these “profit-gaining, readership-increasing” decisions. Why won’t this get through Johns’ head? THE SILVER AGE IS GONE, man, and it’s NEVER COMING BACK!!! Instead of turning back the clock, MOVE FORWARD!!! Make ALL FOUR Earth GL’S the stars of the book, do a FLASH FAMILY book, make BOTH ATOMS the stars of the book, GIVE WONDER WOMAN COMPLETE HUMANITY!!!! ANYTHING THAT’S PROGRESSIVE!!!!

Otherwise, people, we might as well not bother wasting our money on this anymore. Maybe we should let the comic industry die while it still has an ounce of dignity left.

I think the return of Barbara Gordon as Batgirl is terrific. Frankly, and with all due respect to Jill and the disabled, Barbara never should have been put in that chair. She never should have been the poster girl for the disabled. You know who should have been on that poster? Any of the JILLION male characters that DC had instead of the three or four iconic female heroes out of the maybe half dozen female heroes that DC had back in 88. I think Killing Joke is abhorrent. And as a woman who was sexually assaulted one year before that story came out, I’ll never forget how I felt reading it. But what really sickens me is the hateful vibe that anyone who likes the idea of seeing Barbara return to Batgirl is an “ableist” or someone who enjoys uncreative writing because returning Babs to Batgirl could ONLY be the result of total lack of creativity.

I hope they completely erradicate Killing Joke from DC continuity all together. I want to see the disabled represented in comics. But you know what I don’t want to see? I don’t want to see a woman get her spine blown out her ass, stripped naked and have dirty pictures taken of her. There are better ways to introduce a disabled person into the world of comics. And as a survivor of sexual assault, I sure as hell don’t want to see a female character that I grew up reading treated that way. That wheelchair isn’t a symbol of empowerment to everyone out there incidentally. To some of us, to women like me that have been subjected to sexual assault, it’s a symbol of sickening misogyny that is now, hopefully, a thing of the past. I say good riddance to that damn chair. And if I get hated for that by my fellow fans of Barbara Gordon, then so be it.

@Misstree,

Whoa. I’m sorry if anything here offended you. Really. I didn’t realize that some people would take the subject at hand too personally. No offense.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

June 6, 2011 at 11:32 pm

This, more than anything, just seems like a horribly botched PR job. If it had been properly coordinated and issued, rather than parsed out in itty bitty bites, perhaps while I was mourning the loss of books x, y, and z, I could also get excited about books a, b, and c, or the creators attached to those books.

I think the PR is all going to plan – DC have dominated all the comic news sites for much longer than they would have otherwise.

So why bother relaunching the book with Barbara in the uniform, something the majority of fans didn’t want two years ago and still don’t want now?

I think it’s because they are writing for potential fans – those who may know Batgirl through the Adam West show repeats, or from the DCU cartoons – where she’s always been Barbara Gordon.

Did the majority of fans not want Barbara back in the role?
That sounds cool to me, but I’m shocked that any poll could actually show that.

On the surface of this statement, I want to be overjoyed. OVERJOYED. However, the sole image released when that promise was made shows a super busty Wonder Woman, in her very NON-practical bustier (see above).

She’s wearing more than she was before Jim Lee redesigned her.

Rumor has it Gail Simone is off Birds of Prey, which makes no sense in any universe.

I hears ya there, but how much did she want to be back on Birds Of Prey?
I thought she left because she was done with the title, not taken off it.
I’d assumed she’d gone back to it at the request of DC, as things went off the rails from almost the moment she left.

>I think it’s because they are writing for potential fans – those who may know Batgirl through the Adam West >show repeats, or from the DCU cartoons – where she’s always been Barbara Gordon.

- Yes, that`s why John Stewart -for most people in the world the one and only Green Lantern- has such a central role in the Green Lantern relaunch… oh, wait.

Ok, perhaps they expect the film to change that, but I think the key world here is not movie, but “change”. See? you can change it if you want to. Of course, change doesn`t necessarily means moving forward, as all this reboot stuff certainly proves.

I think the writer of the post shows a great deal of intelligence, as in she has the will to chalenge herself and try to change. It`s obvious that she`s is refraining from writing OMFG THIS IS JUST SO AWFUL I WANT TO DIE but insted want to start something that helps her see it all from a different perspective, hear other opinions, just plain think about it. That`s a wonderful characteristic barely seen on the internet.

Before I go, that Catwoman cover? dripping semen from a used condom over her breasts? well… that`s going to sell a lot a comics. And that`s the sad part.

@MissTree
I agree with you. Though not because of the same circumstances, I find it sad that both men and women feel taking away what happened to Barbara is a bad thing. I always loved her, Supergirl, Mary Marvel, and Wonder Woman. Although I am a male, growing up, I was inspired by these women. They did everything as the men did but had to fight harder, not because of a lack of strength, but because in a male dominated society, they shone brightly. Even though I was a child, I was horrified not just by my heroes perishing and/or being written out of existence, or being tortured, I was horrified that it was clear women were secondary to the men they fought beside. In the cases of Kara Zor-El, Mary Batson, and Barbara Gordon, it was to make their male counterparts “unique” or “special”, that they detracted from the men. Granted, Captain Marvel Jr. ceased to be, as did Krypto, but it wasn’t the same. Role models for both girls and boys were thrown out with little regard for the characters and fans who loved them. True, Kara’s death was noble and one of her best portrayals, as is Babs as Oracle, but their was another solution, get better writing. Sure, male heroes died like the Flash, but it was the women were given much less grace. Kara was brutally slain, then erased, Babs was tortured, and displayed rather graphically so. Black Canary was tortured and as a result depowered. Wonder Woman II “devolved” into clay with barely any notice. Granted, many of the characters were strengthened after, yes (although having Supergirl as a deluded Superman doppelganger maybe not so much), but why did so much involve such brutality, and with some, why do it when they would be brought back? Granted, women haven’t been treated with respect for years, but the mid to late ’80′s seemed like an especially dark time. I hate this non-reboot but havings Babs back as Batgirl is sweet! She’s Batgirl in the cartoons and in related media and in Tiny Titans, so it makes sense. I honestly feel for fans of Stephanie, and it bites such legacy heroes may not exist, but I’m happy to know that there may be young readers who will grow up with Babs as a strong, capable hero who is also Batgirl!

I remember a discussion a while back on your “three chicks” podcast regarding an attempt to retcon batman as the reason that Barbara Gordon became Oracle in the first place. Maddy, I believe, recommended Batman Chronicles 5 by Yale and Ostrander as a vastly superior version of the story. The said issue also contains an ending quote about Barbara Gordon’s shift from Batgirl to Oracle which is very strongly relevant given DC’s attempt to reverse everything.

“I am no longer a distaff impersonation of someone else. I’m me–more me than I have ever been. My life is my own. I embrace it, and the light, with a deep continuing joy.”

I think that, while important, reversing Barbara Gordon’s paralysis cannot be the entirity of the critique of this DC decision. Perhaps just as important is the fact that they have effectively downgraded Barbara Gordon from an incredibly powerful position: one of the few heroic characters in the DCU that I could plausibly believe could pull off an Ozymandias style overthrow/troll over the entire DC superhero community should she wish to. And instead put her back as “a distaff impersonation”, or defacto sidekick to batman. Disability issues aside for a second, this seems represent an utter disregard for the character.

Anyway, I hope the Three Chicks find it in themselves to continue with the podcast some time in the future. I probably wouldn’t have even been aware of the Oracle character were it not for their podcast. I’d also suggest that now, more than ever, is the time that a podcast like Three Chicks is needed. :)

@Herring

“I am no longer a distaff impersonation of someone else. I’m me–more me than I have ever been. My life is my own. I embrace it, and the light, with a deep continuing joy.”

Thank you for that quote. It sums up my feelings about ‘batgirl’ and ‘Nightwing’.

‘Demoting’ Dick to Nightwing isn’t a true Demotion. Dick created Nightwing because (pre-crisis) he wanted to find his own way, to have an identity that didn’t start with ‘Batman and’. Making him Nightwing again doesn’t change that.

For Barbara it is a demotion.

What do you hate about the Catwoman cover? In terms of male gaze/selling sex, yeah it seems just as obvious as before (I seem to remember you being ok with this for Catwoman to an extent?) and the way they are handling women in this reboot seems both at once half assed and at the same time reactionary in a kind of patriarchal and puritanical way. All that said though, that Catwoman cover art was one of the only ones released so far that didn’t make me gag just from a technical standpoint. The composition, color choices, and line work are all at least displaying some thought and effort.

Also: still holding out hope for Rene Montoya to get her own Question book. I don’t know if there is anybody left at DC I’d trust to write it though. Maybe Winick?

@Julian,

I’m not sure I hold out hope for Renee to keep going as the Question. Though if there was a Question back up in the Batwoman book, I’d buy it.

I’m not sure I hold out hope for Renee to keep going as the Question.

So are we thinking Vic’s back and he’s rediscovered Ayn Rand? He was one of my favorite characters (the O’Neil version more than the Ditko original) and I loved Renee as a police detective and like her much less as a costumed adventurer/crime messiah, but I hope they’re not going to retcon her back to some previous status quo. I want to see her moving forward, not backward, whether it’s in this role or not. But it does sound like there’s a whole lot of that going around.

I don’t see Dick giving up the Batman cowl in the same way, because I don’t believe anyone really thought it was anything but a temporary thing. They’re speeding through it quicker than I’d like, but I think he’s a stronger, more independent hero as Nightwing than he is when he’s wearing daddy’s clothes, and I’m kind of relieved that they didn’t make up yet another name for him to graduate to. (And now “Batwing” is taken, which might have been the most likely choice.)

I’m hopeful that you, Maddy and Sue will find something to cheer about soon; I’ll miss hearing your rap sessions every other week.

@Julian – re: the Catwoman cover. Yep, it’s well-drawn and composed. Especially with the subliminals that Nataniel and I mentioned. (Her goggles look like she’s removed a tiny bra and the bag of diamonds, well…) There’s nothing dramatic about the cover, nothing that tells you about the series (it’s a #1 after all), unless unless it’s just time for cover-to-cover cheesecake. Which I enjoy in its place. But is Selina really just doing an outdoor strip tease for the first issue or is the book supposed to be about something?

Yeah, the women of the DC Universe are putting on pants but taking off their shoes and keeping their shirts unzipped… Covering/uncovering the women’s bodies isn’t necessarily the point (as Kelly’s said so many times, it’s all about context), but the practicality of some of the outfits? These are super-heroes (or villains), it’s not a pajama party at Hef’s. Giving them all long pants isn’t the same as not objectifying them.

Interesting that Batman Inc is continuing – so if there are multiple Batmen, why not multiple Batgirls?

I would have bought the hell out of a Batgirl Inc. series. More so than Batman Inc., really.

I’ll agree with you on Nightwing. :-)

I’m just really cynical with any legacy hero now (or worse, legacy sidekick) coming through recognizable.

Personally I’d like to see Vic and Renee both be the Question. Get rid of the mark of Cain thing and have both of them use the identity. Either alternate in the anthology book, or put Renee as a backup in Batwoman and Vic as a backup somewhere else. If Vic is more libertarian and Renee is more classic liberal, it would be interesting to see both of them using the methods of The Question for possibly different goals.

@Michelle:
It’s good to parade your worthless opinion like it’s fact.

@GL

I don`t get it, if we didn`t parade our worthless opinions like they`re facts, what else would we do in a comments section of a comics blog?

Did I miss something? Or did Michelle’s comment get deleted?

@Keith Bowden
I obviously missed it too, as I never saw anyone using the user name “Michelle” post here.
Maybe “GL” was reading two different blogs at once and posted his flame in the wrong comments section? As it is I can’t figure out who he’s raging at or why.

Nah, GL is just a random insult generator, content-free.

Jim Lee confirmed on his twitter that the female clothes thing didn’t actually exist. And male body parts aside, I’m glad for it. Having all the women superheroes start covering themselves up seems totally ass backwards, and sends a message that women can’t think for themselves, must be conservative and aren’t allowed to express themselves. If Zatanna can’t do what she loves and dress up in fishnets and Catwoman can’t be CATWOMAN, then fuck that shit. That’s not “equality” at all, that’s over-protective father pandering. “Don’t wear that, be more ladylike!”

How about everyone stops complaining about this, roll with it, then complain if it sucks later? YOU’RE COMPLAINING BEFORE YOU’VE GOTTEN YOUR HANDS ON THE CONTENT!!!

I know what’s killing the industry. It’s not video games or high prices, it’s all of you snot-nosed fanboys (and girls) who are so damn elitist, it scares the casual reader away.

Let these creators create, and if you don’t like it, don’t buy it. Done. No need to get your unwashed boxers in a bunch.

I think the lack of female creators (besides Gail Simone) involved in the new DC, or at Marvel, or any other comics publisher is because the very talented, solid female writers that would take an interest in comic books might still look at comic books as a boys’ playground and not want to get swallowed up by it.

Obviously the remedy is equal opportunity and MORE strong, female voices in comic books. But I imagine if I was a female creator and I saw the comic book industry from the outside, I would probably look elsewhere for an outlet because it just doesn’t seem very pleasant.

Actually, its two-fold. If we can establish and publicize a more diverse creator and consumer pool. If it’s visibly aware that there are a lot of women, a lot of different ethnicities (black, hispanic, asian, etc.), etc. both working in comic books and reading comic books, and the popularity for a character like The Falcon (from Marvel) was matched by actual demand so that it was selling in the Top 50, Top 20, etc. Then we’ll see a change in the collective consciousness of the industry, of what interests the mainstream readership, etc.

While there are female readers and creators, and readers and creators of multiple ethnicities, it is disproportionate to the number of white, male readers and creators involved. That’s the visible voice, as it were. And while we don’t want to alienate or be inconsiderate toward the white, male readership/creators, we need to put our foot down and say, “Listen, there needs to be room and opportunity for everyone involved.” The readership has to be more accepting (I’m not saying their racist, its just what they’ve always been used to. If you put white, male Batman in front of me and black, male Batwing in front of me and both have incredible creative teams and compelling stories behind them but I am only allowed to choose one, I would probably still go with Batman.), and invested in trying NEW things.

There are plenty of white, male readers I imagine who enjoy and care about the character The Falcon. But, there are a considerable number more who do not care about him, not because he is black per se but because he doesn’t speak to their experience. Yes, I might not be a multi-trllionaire crime-fighter but I can relate on some level with white, male Batman. I can, in a sense, project my face onto Batman’s. I can’t do that with Batwoman or the Falcon. Which doesn’t demerit their characters at all, but I imagine that might be what stops, or hesitates a lot of the white, male readership from investing and demanding more books with non-white, non-male characters. I also think a lot of the “popular” black or female or other-than-white-ethnic characters were created in periods where their basic make-up is based on generalizations and stereotypes and cultural things. I don’t know how many black or female or so on characters (the popular ones) were actually created by black people or women, etc who could infer from their own experience. At the same time, I wouldn’t want to see female or black or so on characters that are created with the, “this is what it means to be a black super hero,” because Batman or Spider-Man or Captain America really don’t carry an undercurrent of, “this is what it means to be a white super hero.” It shouldn’t matter what their gender or ethnicity is, as long as they are a competent, compelling crusader of justice.

So I say bring it on. I’m a white, male reader and aspiring creator and I say let’s continue to break down the fence around the comic book industry that says it’s only for white, males.

I actually did an experiment on my Facebook last night where I posted a link to CBR with the 52 announced DC titles and I tagged as many of the women on my Facebook to go through the catalogue and pretend they heard about the announcement, were interested in reading comic books, and walked into the shop in September and saw only the covers on the stands and had a general idea of what might happen in each book. Of the two responses I’ve gotten so far, one friend (female, early-20s, vietnamese) listed most of the major titles like the three Justice League books, the various Batman books (including Batwoman, Batgirl, Birds of Prey), and also listed books like Green Arrow; I, Vampire, Voodoo, Legion Lost, Teen Titans, Suicide Squad, and Blue Beetle.

The other responder (female, 40s, white-canadian) appreciated the de-sexualization edict, said I, Vampire, Voodoo, Batman, and Wonder Woman. And she said books like I, Vampire because of the concept behind it (having to fight your own species for the sake of another) or Voodoo (a person wrestling with identity), or because Batman as a tortured soul interest her.

I hope to get more answers, but the reasons so far doesn’t seem to be “Look! A female super hero just for me!” But the conceit behind each publication, or a familiarity with the characters, whether they are male or female.

I think its been said before, and I believe Kelly Thompson has said it here as well, that people just want good, compelling stories that they can invest themselves in.

But I ultimately think there is some merit to our interests, to some degree, being informed by our own experiences. Ultimately, I want EVERYONE reading comic books. I will pick up Black Panther or the Falcon or Blue Beetle or Batwoman and it would be really awesome to know there is a consumer base for those books with a considerable number of people being able to relate, to some degree, with the character experience. Whether it’s because their black, female, male, hispanic, white, gay or own a jetpack, wings, and millions of dollars in crime-fighting technology.

I want what is best for this industry that has given me so much entertainment and joy for the last 30 some odd years, I hope DC’s gamble works for them and brings much needed attention back to the comics industry….

…but…

As a fan of Power-Girl and all the work and effort that has gone into making her a character I care about and enjoyed reading over the past few years (amongst other characters as well) upon hearing that she (and others) may be wiped from existence to altered to some extent (again) just completely breaks my heart to the point of dropping all books by all publishers…because personally…it’s not “fun” anymore.

Guess I maybe need to start looking for another hobby.

I don’t understand the whining really. All of it driven my emotion and everyone sounds like whinny children.
But you know kids are braver and more resilient than this. They seem the most open minded than the many adults fan boys/girls cause they deal with change in their creative world everyday. I have read fans who seem to demand that these ageless and evolving characters stay the same and it is as if they think they are for them and them alone. One should be happy to see things moving and DC trying to push forward. Shouldn’t a new reader and younger fan who might invest in buying have the same experience you had picking up a book for the first time? I think people quibbling about clothes in the superhero genre is frankly stupid beyond words. See cartoons and movies that tweak all the time. As for Oracle getting her legs back? In an unselfish world if we could heal someone or see someone healed we should and would want that for Barbara. Chris Reeve fought to walk everyday of his life. He believed and hoped one day he would.

I think fanboys and fangirls have lost the art of enjoyment. Of a story for execution. For creativity. Writers owe you nothing just like you owe them nothing. But writers owe themselves to write unhampered and not be held to ransom by readers who throw hissy fits when they don’t get what they want. If one thing this last week has made me think…good for you DC. Do what you need to do.

While I can see flaws in the revamp, I’m more interested in how DC plans to attract non readers to their books.
For someone who is only familiar with Batman through Christian Bales’ beyond gruff voice, I wonder if they will even be enticed to look at a bomic book. DC, and any other comic company, still has to fight past the stigma that “comic books are kids stuff”.

The same day and date is the most positive thing about the revamp.
The promise of diversity hasn’t been met. A lot of the decisions boil down to “let’s play homage to the 90′s”.
Most of the books are superhero books with on a handleful being steeped in a different genre.
Rolling back half of the Bat family into the previous roles doesn’t equate to moving foward.
The Bat and GL books were the most stable. Instead of playing cut and paste with recent developments in those books, DC should have used it to the advantage.

The premise of Batman Inc. is basically a mission statement to move foward, be more diverse.
It allowed the Bat line to have more variety than any other major comic line of books.
Take the freedom and room the Batman Inc premise allowed and run with it.
Have Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham cont. with Batman Inc uninterrupted.
From there, give the Batman of Japan, Mr. Unknown, his own book. Hire writers who have written transalations of manga books for the US market. Better yet, hire manga writers for the project.
Next, let David Hine have a platform to tell tales of the Batman in France, Nightrunner.
If they could, atleast for a short origin recap or maybe even the opening arc, get Moebius to draw it.
That might catch the eyes of anyone with even a passing eye for comic art to take a look.
Next, a book for El Gaucho, the Batman of Argentina. Make it an anthalogy book for this established hero. He already is the “real deal”, thus treat him as such. All those finest artists DC hires from the more Latin centric countries, let them have the “Tony Daniel” deal, drawing and writing the stories. Next, keep Batman and Robin as Dick and Damien. Make the book the Bat lines’ answer to Superman/ Batman with revolving creative teams.
Next, in the often dark and twisted world the Batman inhabits, there will be anti heroes.
Give the Red Hood a book of his own. Allow him to be DC’s answer to the Punisher. Also, have a Catwoman book. The characters too icon and, when handled well, fun to sideline. Next, show how vast the Bat world is even when focused in Gotham. That means the return of Gotham Central, a Jim Gordan book ( or cont. with his stories in Detective Comics), and a solo book for The Question. Have Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins handle this trifecta of books. Then, give Barabara her own book as Oracle. With Cassie Cain, Huntress, Steph Brown, and Black Canary. Yes, as others berfore have said the would cop if it were available, this is Birds of Prey Inc. Written by Gail Simone. Art by Nicola Scott and Amanda Connor switching arcs. Add the actual Batwoman book as is. Have Batwing with James Robinson co-writing. This book could build to the long planned but never realized Justice League of Africa. One man should not have to look out for a whole continent. If DC really wants to show a commitment to diveristy, showcase a superhero across the 53 soon to be 54 all to often generalized nations of Africa.

That’s just a couple of ideas but that’s how the heads at DC are playing it.
So, like always, pick what grabs my interest from what they have to offer and leave what doesn’t on shelf.
For some long time readers, they don’t appear to have much coming up.
For others, they have some books that will be “tried out”.
Whatever happens on the next page, I hope for the best.

@apollo9000 I don`t usally say this kind of stuff, but your ideas for the Batman line are amazing. All of them, there are hundreds of wonderful and talented argentinian and latinamerican comicbook artists, as well as Manga artists who would do much better than “white-male middle age Judd Winick” writing for “Batman of Africa” (?). The Oracle book with Huntress, Canary, Cass, Stephanie written by Gail! The Question ongoin! Detective-centered Detective Comics! I mean, really, Red Hood “the answer to Punisher” (even if I dislike both characters, I think that`s the perfect aproach) I want all of it NOW!

Congratulations, I wish there were more forward-thinking people with strong and realistic ideas like you on the field.

I feel like this is a step back too. I am wondering how long it will be before older stories are retold.

So you have a problem with Mera being beheaded but no problem with hundreds of men characters who’ve had their heads lopped of over the years!!!

What’s so wrong with sexulisied costumes they look coo end of!!!

I too don’t care for the info on this revamp being fed to us via eye dropper. Too much lack of information is keeping the masses very uneasy and they’re uneasy enough with their half-@$$ PR stunt.

I would like to see this plan to bring in more readers succeed, but this feels like a Hail Mary pass with too many flaws that could go wrong. I am willing to give a few issues a test run but if I’m not pleased with the results after a few issues or they go back and undo this, then I will be very… VERY… CROSS!

Mr. Q

“What’s so wrong with sexulisied costumes they look coo end of!!!”

Thoroughly compelling argument there. You might want to Google Women in Refrigerators.

Nick, I do agree with your points about getting more women into the industry. It’s a bit of a catch-22, isn’t it? However, the argument that a white male character can be related to by the majority of people is a cultural one. We see white and male as a ‘blank slate’ type character because we’ve grown up with them being the default. I think that white male readers SHOULD be able to relate to other types of characters. It is unfair to expect women and POC to continue to relate to white male characters when, in this day and age, comics should be able to reflect the diversity of the global community. Isn’t relating to people across lines of gender and race the base for a better society? Why can’t this start with characters? What makes a female or POC character so unrelatable to white male readers?

I agree with Kelly about the Catwoman image being shit. I was working at a LCS when Ed Brubaker’s Catwoman was coming out and I could never understand why I couldn’t get anyone to read the damn thing even though it was probably my favorite monthly at the time. Then they changed the whole look of the book towards the end of his run and I kind of lost interest. Why cant we go back to something like that? and why wasn’t it more popular?

That whole run needs a big hardcover collected edition that I can obsess over.

I’m not sure where huge boobs = sexy woman comes from anymore. It reminds me of the scene in Boogie Nights towards the end where it shows this new generation of pornstars coming up with crazy boob jobs and 80′s hair. In other forms of media right now, a more athletic, more natural look seems to be more popular while the overdone boobs and makeup are out.

I hate to hear you’re feeling down about this; it’s more than understandable. But if it’s any comfort at all, I think columns such as yours are imperative in bring about change in the industry (no matter how painfully slow said change comes) by making sure important issues get addressed and discussed, in addition to informing the uncultured masses (like myself) about books such as Stumptown and Celadore and other creators/creations that they might otherwise never hear about.

Your opening paragraph put an odd thought in my head, and even though it’s not necessarily DC Relaunch related, I hope you won’t mind me posting it: Does anyone else wonder if the poor portrayal of females in comics is some kind of gender specific application of Sturgeon’s Law? Like for every one well-textured, fully developed, three dimensional female character, there’re 23 medievaly themed, barely-there-chainmail-bikini clad sets of ambulatory breasts striking painfully contorted poses to maximize their protruding assets while they battle this month’s probing tentacle monster? That since 90% of everything is a steaming pile of dreck, it stands to reason that 90% of female portrayals in comics will also be steaming piles? For that matter, if we flipped the coin on the other side, are male portrayals any better, or are most of them shown to be testosterone driven chauvinistic dogs interested in nothing but Brawls, Beers and Babes?

Final question (and then I promise to stop with the typing): Is poor female portrayal something that’s mostly comic specific, or do other branches of media (movies, television, books, etc) experience this at a similar level and we just notice it more in comics because we’re fans?

As a young gay male, I’m really worried about Midnighter and Apollo’s relationship status. Hopefully Cornell will keep them together.

“As a young gay male, I’m really worried about Midnighter and Apollo’s relationship status. Hopefully Cornell will keep them together.”

Cornell has stated that they will be.

Dustin Netzinger

June 13, 2011 at 9:39 am

I love cats!!!!

@Jade Carver:

Thank you. I was trying to remember the white = “default/blank slate” perspective. I agree it is unfair. I embrace equal representation of a diverse world, but the dominant consumer base does not. At this moment, DC could put argentinian writers and artists on argentinian characters, and we’ll at least have the diverse creative pool covered. But until the consumer pool reacts in turn, any diversity to the creators or characters will fall flat. DC’s pledge to project a diverse universe of characters might seem paltry and forced by some, but it is still a step in the right direction. If you try to force change through a door it can’t fit through then you’ll lose a lot of what makes that change important. It is frustrating for us in the present, and we should always strive to do better now rather than later, but we can hope that whatever efforts we produce, however small or of little reach, will benefit the next generation more thoroughly.

How great it would be to have a daughter and introduce her to super hero comics without fear of how she’ll internalize the objectification and sexualization.

Also, I think when I said that a white, male reader will have trouble relating to a black character it was more of a generalization. Every human being, regardless of distinction, shares similar triumphs and tragedies, so a well-written character will always have something that everyone can relate to. I don’t think this is a common. But, and I do not think this is a regular occurrence depicted in comic books, I might be able to relate to a black character getting bullied. I was bullied as a kid. So, along those lines there is a commonality, but, I couldn’t relate to a black person being bullied for being black. I could certainly sympathize with his or her plight. But I can’t reconcile what it would be like to be bullied simply for the color of my skin. I’m a member of the agent group, as they say in Community Psychology. I can hear about it, or see it happen in real life or in a movie or in a comic book, but there are certain experiences that certain people go through that I will only ever see from the other side of the fence, so to speak.

That said, do not stop putting books out there that embrace diversity.

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