Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The DC relaunch: some reactions

1) DC Comics made waves - of the bad kind - in July when their co-publisher, Dan DiDio, got in an argument with a fan at Comicon. The fan had a legitimate beef: DC was canceling and relaunching all 52 comics in their superhero line, and in so doing was slashing their compliment of women from double-digits to just 2. And if this wasn't problematic enough, DiDio decided to chew the fan out, questioning whether it made a meaningful difference and demanding that the fan tell DiDio who they should have hired. It reflected pretty poorly on DC, especially given that women, in comics, have always been underrepresented as creators and problematically sexualized as characters.

2) I've picked up only two comics from the relaunch, including the very first one, the flagship Justice League title from Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, and Grant Morrison's Action Comics. (Though I've seen a lot of reviews and responses to other comics - but more on that later.) I don't know what the objective is with these new comics, but it seems to me that DC has actually rid itself of two of the things that gave its universe a unique character among the various superhero worlds - an optimistic outlook and bigger-than-big powers. Especially in relation to Marvel - where the world order is always tenuous, the situation is always dire, and the (anti-)heroes unliked and over-matched - DC has always seemed bright and bubbly. So, at least according to this guy's initial assessment, the newly brooding and irascible DC universe looks a whole lot like Marvel's. And this isn't a good thing.

3) In the past week, though, all of the attention has shifted back to the sorts of concerns that were, at least implicitly, being voiced back in July. Specifically, it's these comics, Red Hood and the Outsiders and Catwoman:

Now, admittedly, these are just small portions of bigger comics. But they're also pretty fair representations of the whole from which they've been taken. And they also seem to offer good evidence that the jokes that non-comic folks make - y'know, about superhero comics being filled with T&A and comic readers being horny fanboys - are well-founded. So rather than completely stealing someone else's thunder, I'll post some good quotes and refer you to the source - it`s worth reading it all:
"Most problematically, we are shown [Catwoman's] breasts and her body over and over for two pages, but NOT her face. [...] Can't you show us the playful or confident look in her eye as she puts on her sexy costume? Because without that it's impossible to connect with the character on any other level than a boner, and I'm afraid I don't have one of those."

"If you really want to support Starfire's 'liberated sexuality' like she's somehow a person with real agency, what people should really be campaigning for is more half-clothed dudes in suggestive poses to get drawn around her, since I'm sure that's what she'd like to see. But people don't really want that, do they? Because it's not about what Starfire wants. It's about what straight male readers want. [...] but let's be honest about what's happening and who we're serving (or not serving) and at whose expense."


Nitz the Bloody said...

The Starfire thing is especially offensive, since she's effectively being raped by both men-- if she's missing her memories, they're having sex with her under false pretenses. I really doubt she'd sleep with Roy Harper if she had her original personality in place, much less Jason "90's Anti-Hero Cliche" Todd.

But yeah, between that, Catwoman, the supermodeling of Amanda Waller, and the Batgirl BS, the new DC fails representation even harder than the old.

neilshyminsky said...

Yeah, the Barb "I Got Better" Gordon thing is probably even more offensive, albeit more subtly so. Because she clearly wasn't hot enough if she was in a wheelchair.

Really, it's amazing that DC has managed to offend so many, so totally, in so short a period of time.