As I started planning my best and worst of 2011 for DC women, a year which saw enormous change and debate, I thought that rather than just offering my opinion, I’d ask other smart comic reading women from across the net to give me some of their best and worst of the year as well. I’m glad I did. First, because it helped me remember some things I forgot and more importantly because they had brought some good commentary.
When I do these, I never know where to start — do I praise first and criticize later? Or do I get the criticism out of the way first and then end on a positive note. Or do I just flip a coin a la Two-Face?
The coin said worst goes first so here we go! I want to note there were a lot of answers and I wish I could have included all of them but I tried to include the consensus (if any of you ladies want to post your whole list I’ll be glad to link). Some other topics, such as the change to Wonder Woman’s origin, will be touched upon in the next post which will have a whole list of positives so be assured this isn’t going to be only a negative endeavor.
So where to start? When I asked Wired’s Corrina Lawson for her worst she gave a simple answer, “collectively the new DC relaunch.” I’ve discussed the problems of the new 52 as a whole for female characters and creators many times, but this list has some specific aspects of the relaunch examined.
It was very frustrating as a woman reader to see female characters being treated as sex objects and ‘things’ to be desired, instead of a fully realised and complex character.
… the premise, turning her into a common street thief, taking away her years of responsibility and character growth, that rankles. She is clearly not the same character she once was, particularly when you compare her introduction pre new52, and how she is now. I liked her introduction pre new52 - she was cocky, courageous, determined, she earned her power (through sheer bossiness). Now, I have no idea how she got her powers, but she clearly doesn’t want to battle evil and help the meek. Where is her Amazon drive? Where are her Amazon ideals?
1. “Adios Oracle.” As Liz Pfeiffer said:
"Barbara Gordon went from being one of the most prominent disabled superheroes who had formed her own vigilante team to Batgirl, again. It was an incredibly controversial move that was met with a lot of emotions"
This was the most hotly debated topic of the new 52 and even today you can still find people squaring off about it on the net. And why not, for all the reasons given in the end DC chose to removed the only physically challenged character it had and “cured” her.
While I wish DC and Gail Simone good luck with the Batgirl title and clearly there are lots of people who are buying the book, I still feel the choice to remove Oracle from comics has left an unfortunate void at DC Comics.
2. The rebooting of Starfire was named by more than a few people as one of the worst of the year but I thought Ragnell/Lisa Fortuner made the point best,
My first impulse was to nominate the publication of Red Hood and the Outlaws as the Worst Moment at DC for women, and certainly the loss of such vibrant, loving character with endless potential as Starfire counts as a blow. The fan favorite Titan was reduced toa hollow empty shell of her former self, and positioned solely as the receptacle for the male gaze, with little thought to the outright creepiness of the concept. Her prior history, filled with human connections and an open heart was drained from her. Her open, positive revolutionary attitude about love and sex, that you could love more than one person and express this in all ways without being greedy for all of them, her philosophy of real free love, was traded in for the fantasy of free, easy sex with what may well be an automaton. That was bad. But it was not the Worst Moment.
The Worst Moment was when we learned that this soulless fantasy was a top seller, proving that there was a gleeful market for this sorry portrayal of sexuality.
Starfire’s appearance/character in Red Hood & The Outlaws which completely guts most of what was interesting about the character
Starfire was introduced with a joke about the size of her breasts. It was very frustrating as a woman reader to see female characters being treated as sex objects and ‘things’ to be desired, instead of a fully realised and complex character.
Amanda Waller. She’s no longer a wall.
… the main thing that was great about Amanda was that she looked like no else in comics. Women of color are rare enough. Women leading teams are rare enough. But a black woman in power old enough to have grown children and who was not thin like a supermodel ? That was groundbreaking.
She’s a gymnast. That’s not a gymnast’s suit. Yet again, casual misogyny wins over style and common sense.
Unfortunately, I believe that Lois Lane has been one of the casualties of the DC reboot for several reasons. The hardest part about this is that it’s a problem that has gone un-noticed by many because of other looming issues but one that is extremely sad.After being treated as Clark Kent’s equal for over 25 years—-a development that was a long time coming——the progress of the last few decades is wiped out and Lois Lane is returned to her most sexist stereotype—-as a dismissive rival who can’t “see” behind a disguise.
Rag Morales makes fun of Superman and degrades the marriage. He also says that Lois Lane was a better character when she was a “beautiful pain in the ass” and that she belonged as she had been in the cartoons from the 1940’s as a damsel in distress. He degrades the choice to make her an equal to Superman in the narrative that had progressed in recent decades.
Judd Winick said sexy about 55 times to describe his new take on Catwoman. (If he had said ‘strong’ 55 times had he been writing Superman, would there not have been a little concern about his detailed understanding of the character?)
"completely guts everything excellent about the character."
The book was a sellout on every level—-a way to try to appear “progressive” while actually treating a woman as a fantasy object for men to act our their dirty fantasies on and to treat as an object for leering.
When DC dropped Amy Reeder from the NYCC Batman panel, they not only dropped the only female on the panel, they also droppedthe only representative of a female-led title (Batwoman) on the panel.In the end, the panel was made up of eight men, seven or which wereworking on titles starring Bruce Wayne, and two of which weren’t evenworking on the New 52. Reeder’s absence meant that Batwoman wasn’t even discussed at the panel.