It's fair to say that DC have dominated the comic headlines in recent months, with their much hyped reboot/relaunch stirring up a great deal of controversy and interest for those with an existing interest in comics. A relaunch of any kind is guaranteed attention, but in assuring fans that this move was about attracting new readers and increasing diversity, DC found themselves firmly in the spotlight.
All the first issues are now out, and you've no doubt seen some of the more vitriolic criticism already. I've been waiting for the last week of #1's to arrive so that I could sit back and look at the comics as a whole as well as individually. Now my mega-review of women in the New 52 is ready... and it may not be what you are expecting.
Firstly, a huge thank you to Red Hot Comics for selling me all the comics I needed and going to great lengths to procure them! Despite being a huge fan of comics, I've previously only bought trade collections and graphic novels due to not living particularly near a comic shop. So I guess in some ways, I'm both an existing fan and a potential newcomer.
San Diego Comic Con was always going to be all about the DC reboot: Superman's new outfits; Barbara Gordon leaving her wheelchair; Wonder Woman's disappearing and reappearing legwear; that Harley Quinn outfit; the new 52. This was the time for DC to win over the fans, attract new readers, and leave us enthused and eager for what September will bring.
Instead, women who have attended the panels or listened to the podcasts have described the experience as uncomfortable at best, offensive at worst. When women pushed their questions about women in comics to the panel, the audience turned against them and the panel responses were flippant or off the mark. Two women have told me they feel like DC sees them as second class readers, and why would an unwanted reader possibly want to spend her money on those comics?
Some of the reporting has been sensationalist, and there were a lot of positive announcements from DC at SDCC too, but the overwhelming feeling for female fans is that this was a missed opportunity and a bit of a PR disaster. The most persistent woman, the Batgirl of San Diego, is meeting with Gail Simone later today.
In 1956, DC unveiled the newly revamped Flash, kick-starting the Silver Age and a resurgence of superhero popularity. For the first time in a decade, heroes were big business again as their histories and identities were reworked to be more realistic, substituting magical origins for the scientific. Marvel jumped on board in the 60s, with their flawed and self-doubting heroes being pumped out by the dozen.
The late 50s and 60s are by turns a frustrating and interesting time for women in comics. Behind the scenes women were practically non-existent, and on page the reactionary additions of Batwoman and Supergirl, along with the prone to fainting and needing rescued Wasp, Marvel Girl and Invisible Girl were doing little to further the strong woman cause. But in the 60s things started to change, and one woman in particular was to help us on our way.
"I won't marry you - but I will kiss you! With a giant hand!". Hehe, that's my grrrl.