Gail Simone’s newest DC title hits the stands and digital devices on Wednesday and here, via the fine folks at DC Comics, is a preview. Getting a little bit of a Secret Six vibe here.
It’s a Gail Simone day in comics. If you pop up to USA Today you can see a preview of Batgirl #19 including the WTF cover as well as a tease regarding the secret of Barbara Gordon’s roommate, Alysia
And Dynamite has released more variant covers for her upcoming Red Sonja ongoing by Jenny Frison, Amanda Conner and Stephanie Buscema.
During ECCC Dynamite announced that Gail Simone will be the new writer on Red Sonja. Last night during the Dynamite panel Simone said she’s “having so, so much fun writing it. It’s going to be bad ass” She said the book would have a “strong female character with lust, humor, blood and maybe some severed heads. Also alcohol and plagues.”
Red Sonja most famously appeared as part of Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian and then her own series. The character was later was relaunched by Dynamite where she has appeared for the last decade. Red Sonja, a sword wielding barbarian, is known for both her red hair and her costume which consists of a chain mail bikini.
That chainmail bikini was addressed during the panel last night. Dynamite publisher Nick Barrucci asked Simone, “don’t you think it’s unrealistic to have a woman wear a chainmail bikini, how can you write that? Oh, I must be reading too many posts.” Simone said, “I’m not the one wearing the chain bikini, Red Sonja thinks its fine. She’d be more uncomfortable in a formal dress.”
The publisher and Simone smartly lined up a number of female artists for the book’s covers perhaps giving that bikini a bit of teflon. The interiors of the book, however, will be by Walter Geovani. Among the artist doing covers are Nicola Scott, Fiona Staples, Colleen Doran, Jenny Frisson, Stephanie Buscema and Amanda Conner. Simone said that when contacting the artists many of them turned out to be “closet Red Sonja fans.”
Here’s a look at the Fiona Staples cover. The book is out in July.
During a panel at the Wizard World Portland, Gail Simone reported that Gail Simone would be including a “benched” character in the upcoming series “The Movement”
The announcement was made via a tweet, actually Simone’s husband said:
She says a benched female character is coming back in the Movement…
The characters most widely viewed as “benched” are Cass Cain and Stephanie Brown although Simone ruled them out earlier.
The series will be out in May.
Following the publication of a list of the “Comics Power 100” a few weeks ago the lack of women led to a post of 10 women who could/should have been on the list. Among them:
Gail Simone, creator DC Comics - Beyond being a strong creator, Simone has a passionate fan base that will follow her from book to book. As the creator of Women in Refrigerators she’s considered a thought leader on gender in comics. Do you really think that DC would have gotten rid of Oracle as easily if Simone hadn’t been attached to Batgirl? Most recently Simone showed her clout by raising over $117K on Kickstarter for a creator owned comic, Leaving Megalapolis.
That’s just my opinion, of course. And we all know how much a woman’s opinion on comics is valued. At least three feminazi’s, two crazies and one or two “hysterical fangirls”!
But that statement about getting rid of Oracle for Batgirl is not opinion and is absolutely true. DC has made many controversial decisions over the years but that one? Breaking their promise to readers? Getting rid of their most prominent physically challenged character? That was a hugely controversial one. But putting Simone on the book mitigated a lot of the issues. And DC absolutely knew that.
So in the bizarro world that is DC Comics:
DC canned Gail Simone from said Batgirl book (by email to boot) (but probably with a :( in it too.)
Writers get bounced off books all the time in comics. But usually there’s a reason - and that reason is usually because of sales or because the writer doesn’t agree with where the editors and management want to take the book.
(And for the speculation that being outspoken on social media and having vocal detractors is a gig killer at DC … if that were true how do you explain one of the newest lead writers on the Trinity?)
Given the sales on Batgirl it would seem that wasn’t the issue. So is it the other?
Probably? From what I’ve read and been told, DC’s editors and publishers have their fingers deep into every book. The litany editorial mandates about the most minute things that have been passed down to writers over the past two years is boggling - everything from what weapons a character can use, to last minute name changes (and unnamed changes) and, of course, the outright refusal to allow creators to use certain characters. George Perez has publicly discussed his experience. So did others like Liefeld and Rozum. There are others who haven’t gone public but their stories are just as disheartening.
It’s almost as if some of these books are successes in spite of DC. That’s a scary idea.
The saddest part of this incident with Simone is that DC treated one of their biggest cheerleaders like this. She’s a vocal supporter of the DC line and promoted the hell out of new 52. She’s constantly promoting comics and the shop owners who drive the business.
But she is also quick to criticize DC around their treatment of women, people of color and LGBQT. You know, the folks that DC and comics has historically ignored or had issues with.
Let’s hope Simone’s treatment, especially a week after Karen Berger announced she is leaving, is not a signal that dudebro train is getting ready to leave the DC station once again (especially after the glacier melting a bit around targeting female readers sited last week).
However, if you’re not on that train, I’m hard pressed to think why you wouldn’t feel a bit concerned about DC Comics.
Today there’s one less female creator on a book at DC despite DC saying they “heard” the concerns from readers after the train wreck around gender at SDCC. And it’s the one who had the biggest seat at the DC writer’s table and the biggest voice about the treatment of female and other under represented characters.
Definitely very concerning.
Earlier this week I wrote about how much I love Kickstarter as it empowers me to help get comics that I want to read made. And now here’s another great example. I thought that Secret Six was month in and month out the best team book DC produced. But unfortunately the book got cancelled as part of the new 52.
Now the two creators of that book are publishing their own title via Kickstarter. This evening Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore announced Leaving Megapolis, an 80 page original Graphic Novel.Simone promises that this book will feature the same “balls to the wall” style of Secret Six.
What more do you need to know? They are looking for $34K, here’s the link with more on the project and to contribute or buy a package.
Gail Simone wrote Helena Bertinelli in two volumes of Birds of Prey.
I know a lot of people have hardcore love for the Helena Wayne version of the Huntress, but I’d never really read any of her stories, so for me, Huntress was always Helena Bertinelli. To my dying day, whether she appears in current continuity or not, she will remain one of my favorite characters, not just in comics, but in all fiction.
To be blunt, Helena is the shit. I adore her.
The charge was often leveled us, when I took over Birds of Prey, that we had added the Huntress to the book to tie in with the television series that had spun off from the book’s previous incarnation. The truth is, it was my idea to bring her in. The show had already flopped, and DC was in no hurry to be more closely affiliated with the series. So they were not thrilled with the idea of bringing Helena aboard. I made a stern case, aided by a great editor, the fierce Lysa Hawkins, for what Helena would bring to the book; her unpredictability, her untamed nature, her unmatchable will. All of that stuff was true, but had nothing to do with why I wanted her in the book. The truth is a lot simpler.
She was badass.
Completely, unendingly badass.
My first run on Birds of Prey, there’s no question I spent more time on Black Canary’s character. It wasn’t that I loved Dinah more, it’s that I felt Helena hadn’t needed so much rehabilitation. Dinah had been a hostage many times, a wet blanket…it seemed a lot of great writers had no idea what to do with her. Helena was different, writers seemed to know that her value was her uncompromising nature. Nearly every story she appeared in, she kicked someone’s physical or metaphorical ass, even Batman seemed to take a cautious step back in her presence. I loved that, that was a woman I wanted to read about.
In my second run, we planned to focus much more on Huntress, starting with her taking over leadership of the Birds…she earned it, and it felt a natural progression. I was also lucky enough to write the character for some animated shows, and her natural shine made that leap look easy. It wasn’t me, it was all her.
If my career ended tomorrow, I wouldn’t have a lot of regrets, because I know this one little miracle, this little thing I still am somewhat amazed at—I got to write Wonder Woman. I got to write Black Canary. I got to write Homer Simpson. I got to write the Spirit. I got to write Superman.
And I got to write Helena Bertinelli.
You can’t do better than that in superhero comics. I seriously felt writing Birds of Prey was simply the best gig in comics. I had no envy for the Spider- and X- writers, because I got to write the Huntress every month. Huntress, who made Batman smile and Shiva pause. You can’t do better.
I have my favorite Huntress writers, people like Cavalieri, Rucka, and Grayson, but almost all writers seemed to step up to the plate a bit more when Helena was on panel. She had that kind of star power charisma.
It makes me very sad to be writing about her in the past tense. I have no idea what DC’s plans are for her, hopefully her time on the bench will be short.
Love you, Helena, come back soon!
From the NY Post this morning. Give the story a read, it’s a fair take on the issues. Those who have still questioned whether the Killing Joke happened, see below. It did, and apparently three years before the book begins. I assume that she was a teenager then? Ack, my head.
The writing is snappy, as you’d expect from Simone. She even gets a Batwoman joke in.
I am a big fan of Gail both because of her writing and because of her willingness to try and make comics a better medium for everyone.
This past week she was our “Chick of the Week” on “3 Chicks Review Comics.” Give it a listen to hear why we think Gail is important to comics.
And let’s celebrate the Secret Six way:
Since its launch in 1999, DC Comic’s Birds of Prey has carved out an important role in comics. Beyond the strong writing, beyond showcasing two pioneering and iconic female characters - Dinah Lance, the Black Canary and Barbara Gordon, now Oracle and formerly the Silver/Bronze Age Batgirl, it is generally recognized as being an on-ramp for many women into the world of superhero comics.
In 2009 after 127 issues, DC canceled the book along with several others in the wake of the Battle for the Cowl. Fans however, continued to ask DC for the book’s return. And in January of 2010, DC announced that Birds of Prey would be brought back with Gail Simone at the helm. Simone, who took over the book at issue #56 and was lead writer through #108, is the book’s most popular writer.
Birds of Prey will celebrate the first anniversary of its return next month. Last week Gail Simone was kind enough to chat with me about it.
One measure of a memorable moment is the response that it receives. I can vividly remember the passionate response to this one across the ‘net. And I am happy and lucky to have the woman who wrote this moment to write about it here, Gail Simone.
A clip from the episode Gail Simone wrote, “The Mask of Matches Malone!”
Here’s the description from Wikipedia:
Teaser: Batman joins forces with Black Orchid as they both fight the seductive, but dangerous, Poison Ivy, along with her henchwomen.
Main Plot: Black Canary and Huntress, along with Catwoman, pursue Two-Face. At the same time, Batman (in his Matches Malone persona) gets amnesia and believes himself to actually be a gangster. This episode will feature at least one musical number.
It’s a frisky little number!
If you haven’t read Secret Six by Gail Simone this week, please just go buy it. This month’s issue, “Unforgivable”, is an “Elseworlds” like tale that has the Six trying to be heroes in the old West. A spaghetti Western combined with the loonies of the Six? There’s gold in them thar pages (but not apparently in Jeanette’s … ahem). This is an incredibly fun issue particularly if you read the first arc of the series. And it has Jeanette and Deadshot in the bathtub, um, well it can’t be getting clean because the panel is so dirty. Scandal is the town sheriff. Deadshot is every Clint Eastwood cowboy character ever but with his snarky personality. Ragdoll … has puppets — what more needs to be said than that?
Jim Califiore does his strongest work to date in this issue. I’ve said it before, this is the best team book that DC has right now.
The issue made me pull out my copy of another “Elseworlds” set in the old west “Justice Riders” by Chuck Dixon with art by J.H. Williams. In this one, Wonder Woman is the sheriff (and is it wrong to hope for some fan fiction that involves, say, Sheriff Scandal and Sheriff Diana?) and she teams up with some other familiar faces, including Wally West for some cowboy fun. Here’s a glimpse of the team:
Doesn’t Wonder Woman look great? Clearly J.H. Williams need to draw her again in book. Perhaps when Diana gets back onto the same timeline as everyone else she can visit Gotham City and Batwoman. (And get that drink that Kate offered in Wonder Woman 600). Also see how great the boots look with the black pants? You would think that the cowboy Diana would have the pony shoes but no it’s “grim and gritty Diana” - please Jim Lee and Don Cramer, fix those boots. The story is pretty standard cowboy fare except that everyone is a JLA member. You get Ted as the gadget guy, J’onn as the Clint Eastwood man with no name, etc. Clark is even in it at the end as a reporter. But mostly you get Diana being a kick ass leader. Justice Riders is out of print but you can pick up copies online and at comic shops and shows for fairly cheap.
This issue of Secret Six and The Last Family of Krypton that was also out this week make me wish DC would go back to regularly issuing “Elseworlds” titles. They’re fun and because they are out of continuity can use characters that might not be currently in a book. I certainly would enjoy seeing, for example, “Cassandra Cain: The Fastest Gun in the West”. What are some of your favorite “Elseworlds”?
And speaking of birthdays, today is Gail Simone’s birthday. The characters she has created and written are a key part of this blog and my comic reading so I just want to say: