"Gotham's" Cory Michael Smith Savors the Arrival of the Riddler
Just an hour before my column about the ladies of the Marvel Studio movies went up, a column that in part lamented our lack of announcements on female-led films, we got an announcement about a female-led superhero film being developed.
But that announcement came not from Marvel Studios but Sony.
MUCH MORE RESTRAINED JOY.
It’s not rocket science. While Marvel Studios have been killing it with their films – and they seem to be getting better and better – The Avengers (2012), Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014), and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) are their three best films (except perhaps Iron Man (2008) which set us off on this incredible superhero resurgence in the first place) – Sony has been kind of the opposite of killing it.
So, obviously this is spurred by Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy, which came out last weekend, which demolished all August film openings, which I saw this weekend, and which was, as everyone has already been telling you, pretty much awesome.
But you don’t need another post about that, you’ve seen it all before, there’s nothing new I can tell you. This movie is like pure joy, bottled and delivered directly into your soul. It’s not perfect but it’s fun, funny, and a great example of how super complicated ideas and utterly bizarre characters and concepts can be made “new viewer” friendly and yet still appeal to fans. It’s a success all around.
MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD
How do you top turning a matriarchal female society historically depicted as honorable in your comics into absolute monsters? For starters, you assign creators that either don’t know what feminism means, or worse, do know and are still afraid to use that word to describe the preeminent female hero in the world. In 2012 I thought feminism had been destroyed at DC Comics but I was wrong, because there were further lows to which we could descend.
We have found new depths as a creator (David Finch) assigned to the most important woman in comics doesn’t know what the word feminist means, or much much worse, knows what it means and doesn’t think that Wonder Woman is a feminist, in other words, he doesn’t believe that Wonder Woman believes in equality of the sexes.
You know what I can’t believe? That this kind of thing can still happen in the year 2014.
Four years ago my birthday fell on a Monday and so I decided to make 12 Birthday Wishes…and now every year Sue asks me if I’m doing it again. Though my birthday is not until Saturday, I felt like doing it again this year –apparently I am only interested in doing every two years. Like I did last time I’m going to first recap what I asked for in 2012 and see how we did. Last time the rack up was a pathetic 2.25/12 points…I KNOW we did better this time!
Back in early 2012 I wrote a piece that became easily my most talked about and commented on, in both good and bad ways. It was called “No it’s Not Equal” and it was all about breaking down the ways that visually, women are not presented equally to men in comics. The piece was born of getting very tired of hearing people say ridiculous things related to female representation in superhero comics – stuff like “all superheroes wear skintight clothes, not just women!” and “it’s comics! nobody has realistic bodies!” I wanted to break down why those arguments are so flawed and how the representation is/has been unbalanced when it comes to men and women. It’s been about 28 months since I posted that piece and I started wondering if anything significant had changed when it comes to mainstream superhero comics.
For me the answer is both yes and no, specifically if we look to the big two, who still do lead the pack when it comes to sales and content as well as spreading their IP to larger markets. And as the leaders who SHOULD be leading us, setting a great example and changing the face of comics.
A couple weeks ago, Girls Gone Geek was running a hashtag on twitter called #DreamComics asking people to pitch their character and creative team that would make up their dream comics at DC and Marvel. There were some great suggestions. Because I was a bit busy I simply gave them a link to my Marvel “Dreamy Lady Team Ups” column from late 2013 instead of coming up with new ideas, but it got me thinking about DC books, which I never did a similar piece for. In truth, I never did a “Dreamy Lady Team Ups” piece (or similar) for DC because it’s just a rough place for me right now. There are so many characters I love there, but – as many of you are well aware – it’s just not a very welcoming place to me right now. I find the treatment of female characters to be pretty appalling and even beyond that the tone is incredibly dark and gritty throughout the universe, and honestly, I don’t understand the universe very well anymore – the ages of characters, what was retconned and what was kept, it’s kind of a mess in my head. However, as I was thinking about it, DC not being a great/welcoming places these days is the best possible reason to come up with a list of what I’d love to see. And so here we are.
Ever since DC announced these covers, like many, I’ve had a wary eye on them. It seemed disturbing that all the teasers we saw featured only women but part of me could not believe that in the year 2014 an entire company could be so magnificently tone deaf that they would create sexy variant “bombshell” covers featuring ONLY women.
And yet here we are.
All the covers have been released and all of them are sexy lady covers. Of course they are. Why do I even bother to hope?
This painfully reaffirms – in fact it screams from the rooftops – how DC views both men and women as characters and as people. Their message is clear – men can’t be “sexy bombshells” and women are and MUST be sexy bombshells. Their comics are for straight white males, full stop.
So I wanted to tackle this concept today for three reasons.
1. Because there was an aggressive attempt at a really classic form of silencing early on this comments to the excellent CSBG guest post Let Girls Take The Lead by Barbara Slate.
2. Because I, like many out there, AM working hard to create, and I thought it might be beneficial to some people that don’t create (or don’t yet) to understand exactly what is involved in “creating” and why it’s particularly annoying for people to assume we’re not doing that very thing. And—
3. Because I am swamped with work doing that exact thing (creating/running a business) and so this was a timely moment for me to talk about this issue and I’m too busy to think much about actual comics right now, so this felt right.
This past year with The Walking Dead continuing its ratings domination, the high profile debut of Agents of Shield, and Arrow getting a good deal of praise as it upped its game, it kind of felt like comics were really taking over TV a little bit, especially with all the gossip about books (and concepts) that were being considered and optioned. But if I’m counting correctly in the next year (or so) we’re looking at about
EIGHTEEN NINETEEN ongoing shows adapted from comics (and that doesn’t include three mini-series for Syfy, or the Netflix Defenders mini-series “event”, or the Heroes Reborn nonsense).
That is INSANE. From about three properties to
Wow. So very little is known about most these new shows. We’ve seen a trailer for GOTHAM and we got a trailer for CONSTANTINE this week and we’ve seen casting and teasers for a few more shows. Right now, most are big question marks, but based on what we know, let’s take a look at them. To make things more fun, I’ll rate my interest level via the official* Taco Bell Rating System.
And I mean that title literally. The definition of “five by five” is as follows: Five by five is the best of 25 possible subjective responses used to describe the quality of communications, specifically the signal-to-noise ratio.
Marvel’s “quality of communication” on their interest in female leads right now is FIVE BY FIVE.
It’s also a handy way to talk about the five new female-led books they’ve launched and with the debut of Elektra last week, I can say unequivocally they are all good. And that, is, well, that’s HUGE.
Last week I opted to talk about the awesomeness that was the new Lumberjanes comic instead of the disgusting madness surrounding a well-reasoned critical piece written by former DC Editor Janelle Asselin about a comic book cover. Frequent commenter Dean Hacker called me Zen. We all had a good chuckle.
Apparently you cats DO. NOT. WANT. ME. TO. BE. ZEN.
There’s been a lot of controversy going around with women and comics, driven in large part by a piece former DC Editor Janelle Asselin wrote about the new Teen Titans cover on CBR. It’s sparked a lot of good discussion and as usual, a ton of nightmarish behavior. I thought a lot about writing about it, but I gotta be honest, it’s just not in me right now. Maybe it’s not true for everyone, but for me, to take on these big pieces that you know are likely to be controversial takes not only a lot of literal time but also a ton of mental energy and I just don’t have it in me right now for either of those things. Maybe that will change in the coming weeks and I’ll have something of merit to add to the discussion, but for now, read Asselin’s piece and also this most excellent piece on Comics Alliance by Andy Khouri.
Here we’re just going to talk about the absolute awesomeness that is LUMBERJANES. The kind of comic every young girl should get the opportunity to read – and hell, young boys too. It may be designed with “hardcore lady-types” in mind, but it’s wonderful reading for anyone, in fact, perhaps it should be required reading to broaden minds and generally spread happiness and goodness to the world.
One of the first posts I ever wrote for CSBG was all about context, and specifically, how Marvel’s context was showing when it came to their portrayal of women. Since then I’ve frequently talked about context, but never entirely devoted a post to it again. New Yorker writer Emily Nussbaum’s harsh take on critical darling True Detective a few weeks ago though had me thinking a lot about that context post, and about how much context shapes how we process things.
I loved True Detective (though I’ll agree they did not stick the landing in the finale) and I didn’t agree with all of Nussbaum’s points but I couldn’t get away from the value of her argument, less because I related to it from a television perspective and more because I couldn’t help but see the relation from a comics perspective.
Thanks to the awesome success of the Kickstarter for my new book (and thanks to those of you that helped with that) I find myself with even less time than usual (or believable), but I didn’t want to leave you all hanging a second week in a row, so I thought another Random Thoughts Mash-up might be in order. Besides, the way my thoughts are colliding this is probably the most natural way to get them out there anyway.
Random She Thought: It’s She Has Random Thoughts Time! Get Excited!
Link Thought: 79semifinalist for twitter-y comics stuff, Kelly Thompson on CBR for review-y comics stuff and 1979 Semi-Finalist for everything else. And as always, thanks to Chad Nevett for the column.
Last week, Noelle Stevenson, Nimona comics creator, among other things – including art student grad, social media maven, and traditionally published comics creator – published a fantastic short comic about her terrible experience in a comic book shop. I urge you to go there and read it in full as it is both hilarious and sad and filled with painful, pitiful truth.
The result was, naturally, internet explosion – of both the good and bad variety – last I looked it had been re-blogged or noted over 73,000 times. A ton of people related to this comic, understood it instantly, and even if they hadn’t experienced it themselves, understood that this happens ALL THE TIME. Of course there was also a ton of sexism, harassment, concern trolling, silencing techniques, victim blaming, and plain old mansplainin’.
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