DC, sometimes you make it really hard for me to defend you.
It surprises no one to know that I do adore comics. My collection is big and my love of the genre is even bigger, enough for me to consider dissertations on the medium. And from all the companies batting for attention, I swore my allegiance to DC, the creators of Superman, Batman, and the ever-impressive Wonder Woman.
It’s a dark time to be DC fan. To put it simply, DC is embarrassed by its fanbase. DC is embarrassed, and trying to approach us like our out-of-touch dad trying to be hip. Marvel’s heroes may not be as compelling, but they know how to handle them. You only need to look as far as The Avengers franchise to see that they know what they’re doing and they are loving.
In a recent attempt to be down with the kids, DC announced a new Superman/Wonder Woman story. Cool. There’s nothing wrong with that, right?
Allow me to bring up a recent interview with Tony Daniel on the upcoming Superman/Wonder Woman story:
“I mentioned maybe, can we create a book that targets a little bit more of the female readership that’s been growing. And maybe a book that has a little bit of romance in it, a little big of sex appeal, you know, something that would, for lack of a better example, that hits on the Twilight audience. You know, millions of people went to see those in the theatres because it has those kind of, you know, subject matter. The drama, the characterization with love triangles and forbidden love and things like that.”
I can offer translation here:
“What is it that girls like? Oh! Twilight! That’s modern! Girls loves that vampire thing.”
I’m not going to pretend I speak for all the female readership here. Like in the male demographic, we all have our own opinion. I actually like the romantic element of a lot of Modern Age comics. Green Arrow and Black Canary will never fail to make me giggle, Nightwing and Barbara are precious, and Huntress and The Question need their own TV show or something. I love them, and when I’m reading a comic and there they are, I’m a happy camper.
But when I’m browsing through comics, I’m not looking for a bland protagonist and her dull sugar daddy. But if DC wants to go for that angle, then go right ahead. Create a new series and have fun. Maybe you’ll get those numbers you’re hoping for, and I can get my sister to share with me the joys of a newly bought graphic novel.
But leave Wonder Woman out of this.
I’m not much of Superman fan to begin with, but I am a Wonder Woman fan. It’s not because she’s a woman, but because she’s a hero who has a real character arc and plenty of development under her magic girdle. But all that goes to a complete mess whenever they pair her up with Superman. And that’s not to say Wonder Woman can’t have a love interest, because I’m not claiming that at all. Silver Age Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor were lovely, and in DCAU canon, I could even get behind Batman and Wonder Woman, because she doesn’t lose what makes her an incredible role model. She acts as the flawed counterpart to Superman whenever they’re on-screen or panel together. Yes, he’s the Kryptonian boy scout, but she’s more than just your comparison. Wonder Woman is flawed, but she’s just, and wise, and deserves far more respect than being the object for Superman to belittle with clearly perfect ways.
And don’t you dare compare her to Bella Swan. Bella Swan was an underdeveloped tool for a young reader to project herself on to. That was her point. Wonder Woman is the paragon of what we can be, women and men alike. She’s a hero, and a symbol of the underdog. She know what’s right, and she fights for it. And she fights well, better than most the male heroes. And yet it is Green Arrow who has a TV show, and Wonder Woman is left with a 70’s horror montage.
I desperately want the female demographic to grow. Really, I do. I don’t like how misogyny rules over one of my greatest loves. Not all comic writers have this problem; not all fans are this jaded; but a lot are, and unfortunately, they tend to be the loudest. I want desperately to visit my local comic shop and not be steered towards the ‘Friendship is Magic’ section, because they think it’s a hilarious joke that a girl would dare enter their domain of masculinity. This new idea is not an attempt to bring more female readers; it’s re-enforcing the ridiculous notion that girls can’t like comic books the same as boys can.
I am furious. If you want more female readers, then fantastic! I’d welcome a more gender-neutral approach to characters. Honestly, your commitment to this is up for debate, but this post is getting a little to long. Maybe instead of asking the men of the committee what they think women like, you could ask some women. I swear, we’re actually really nice once you get past the chest pillows and you realise we don’t look like a Rob Liefeld drawing.
And so, dear readers, I ask this of you: are comic books doomed to forever remain a male past-time? Ladies, do you read comics? And gentleman, what are your views on this “girl geek” predicament?
And if you want to share with me your favourite comics or recommendations, please do. I’m always looking to expand my library!