Monday, August 13, 2007

"Oh, You Like Woman? Here Is Cookie! Good Job!"

You know, I spend about $30 dollars on comics a week. Most of that is spent on mainstream superhero comics.

Yet, I rarely buy any comics featuring solo superheroines.

See the name of my blog? "Occasional Superheroine"

That means that occasionally, I should be buying comics starring superheroines. But I don't.

"Alias" I used to buy every month. Because I could relate to her.

I can't relate to Wonder Woman, even as a "this is who I would be if I had superpowers" sort of way. Never had.

Batgirl I could relate to.

I just picked up a copy of "The Killing Joke" the other day from a man on a street corner. I got my cat that way too, many moons ago.

I bought the book for a dollar.

And sure, you know, it's well-written, it's brilliant and all that.

But it's not a book written for me. Not for *me.* It doesn't take the perspective of a woman into account. It doesn't take into account that some women might be so very disgusted with the book & what happens to Barbara Gordon in it.

Do I sound whiny about this? Am I not being positive?

Look, I'm totally enjoying "World War Hulk." I'm excited about it. There is a bunch of things in mainstream comics that I am excited and upbeat about.

But I'm not excited about the portrayal of women in comics. I'm not excited about it. I'm not necessarily angry about it -- but I'm maybe a little bored as hell.

I'm bored.

You know what my reaction to the announcement that Kelly Puckett & Drew Johnson are the new team of "Supergirl?"

I was bored. It's a safe choice.

The time is now to think outside-the-box regarding superheroines.

And I'm not going to follow whatever crumbs are thrown my gender's way and go "clap-clap: good job!" anymore.

"Oh, you're treating my gender like we have three whole dimensions? Here's a cookie!"

I'll just go back to buying and enjoying the comics I like.

And you know where I will be devouring my stories of strong, interesting, dangerous, truly memorable superpowered females?



  1. So wait, you weren't reading Simone's "Birds of Prey?" For shame! I'm hoping she can work the same magic on "Wonder Woman," which I bought for about a decade based on my love for the relatable, Taco Bell employee/hanging out with single mothers take on the character.

    Beyond that?

    um... uh... Checkmate features mostly strong, interesting female leads... erm... eh... I heard Ron Marz has made Witchblade tolerable...

    Okay. Yeah. This sucks.

  2. Anonymous8:26 PM

    But...Kelley Pluckett created Cass Cain! Cass was 900 kinds of awesome! To me, at any rate.

  3. erm... eh... I heard Ron Marz has made Witchblade tolerable...

    Correction: Ron Marz has made Witchblade READABLE. It has actually become a worthwhile read and not because the of the art (although the guy they just signed on until 2010 is amazing). I'm a GUY and I'm reading Witchblade for the STORIES!

    This is the comic version of men who read Playboy for the articles. We do actually exist. :)

  4. At Terry Moore's "SIP RIP" panel in San Diego, he got my (and I imagine most peoples') hopes up with his lead in where he hinted to writing Supergirl.

    Instead, Marvel snagged him for two of their titles.

    I don't know if I'd like TM writing Supergirl, but hot damn, that would have at least been interesting.

    (FWIW, I think he's the perfect choice for the titles he'll be writing: "Spiderman Loves Mary Jane" and "Runaways".)

  5. She-Hulk, no? I too am finding it hard to find good superheroine comics that arent just pin-ups for 13-year-old boys.

  6. Probably She-Hulk/Ms. Marvel come closest. I like "Spider Girl" but it is essentially written for a younger audience.

  7. isn't everyone supposed to be appalled and disgusted at what happens to Barb in the Killing Joke?

    for me this was right up there with bashing Jason's brains in as the most evil the Joker has ever been.

    and both the Gordon's reaction to the crime is terrifically in character - Barbera too worried about her father to dwell on her own horrible experience, Jim too worried about seeing justice served to dwell on his.

    i do totally get it that the story uses Barb's ordeal as a foil for male character motivation, rather than dealing with her own reactions to the horrific act. Her story is heavilly glossed over and marginalised to be, but i would still argue that - to some extent - Barb's story is what comes after the flurry of events contained in the slim volume. How this was handled back in the day, i'm afraid i'm ignorant to.

  8. I like "Spider Girl" but it is essentially written for a younger audience.

    Oh, I couldn't disagree more. Spider-Girl is written for all ages, young and old.

    It is, without a doubt, my favorite series being produced right now. It is everything i think superhero fiction should (and could) be.

    I think it is a disservice to the book to claim that an adult reader couldn't enjoy it as much as a younger reader.

  9. Terry Moore did a freakin' fantastic cover for an issue of Rob Liefeld's "Lady Supreme" that I almost bought because it was just that awesome. Then I remembered, "wait... awesome... extereme?!?" and wanted to tear my brain free from my eyes. Still, right purdy.

    I forgot that Peter David is taking over She-Hulk, an absolutely perfect pairing of writer and character. I tried Slott's first trade to underwhelming results, but I expect to give David's a shot in six months or so.

    I read Newsarama's "Best Shots," AICN's "Talkback League," CHUD's "Thor's Comic Corner," CBR's "The Buy Pile," and the occasional "Savage Critics," and don't recall ever seeing better than a tepid review of "Ms. Marvel."

    I'll say it plain: I've never been an Alan Moore fan, and I only value "Killing Joke" for Bolland. His work is too clinical to inspire any emotion in me, and I probably liked his Claremont riff on WildC.A.T.s better than most anything he's done, including "Watchmen."

    Are those torches and pitchforks?

  10. "isn't everyone supposed to be appalled and disgusted at what happens to Barb in the Killing Joke?"

    -- As a female comic reader, why do I want to be subjected to repeated graphic scenes of bloody naked bodies in agony (Barbara Gordon), women being sexually tortured (Black Canary, "Longbow Hunters"), women being forced to eat the faces of their significant others ("Catwoman"), being tortured with drills (Spoiler/Robin II), rape ("Identity Crisis"), long drawn-out mindrape (Ms. Marvel, Jessica Jones), cannibalism of/various atrocities against women ("Sin City")?

    It's like if every month there were 5-6 comics featuring nothing but scenes of baseball bats whacking testicles. Know that feeling of empathy in your groin when you watch somebody get smashed in the nads? That's how I feel reading this s**t.

    And in the end of "The Killing Joke," Batman doesn't pound the Joker to jelly and bring him to justice.

    He joins the Joker in a laugh.

    Sure I know: brilliant commentary on the futility of the war on crime. "We are just two sides of the same coin, you and me." Absolutely brilliant and deep.

    Only as a woman I've just watched the brutal and graphic mutilation of one of the few superheroines I cared about, and I get NOTHING. No satisfaction.

    Sure, the book is brilliant, but it was written by a man for a male audience. That doesn't demean it as a brilliant work. I'm just saying that it's the same sensation I get when I watch Fox News. This is good entertainment for somebody, but that somebody ain't me.

  11. "I think it is a disservice to the book to claim that an adult reader couldn't enjoy it as much as a younger reader."

    Hey, I love what "Spider Girl" does, and I support the book.

    But it's a book for younger readers.

  12. Hi,

    I just got here via a link on journalista. I'd like to recommend a comic that I write, 100 Girls. It features a young female lead and it's superhero-ish. I've been told by readers and by some online press that the main character is well-written. Hell, I'd like to get the book into people's hands, so I'll just send it to you if you want. Just leave me a comment on my blog about how to get some to you if you're interested.

    Take care,

  13. "women being forced to eat the faces of their significant others ("Catwoman"

    Wait-- what? I missed that one. When did this happen. Not to be insensitive, but that sounds kind of cool to me. I presume the faceless individual was a male victim?

    In my daydreams of being a famous and influential comic book writer, I imagine subjecting male character to a pleathora of indignities. I firmly believe that I've got an excellent super-hero origin involving the forced group Hyborian sodomy* inflicted 'pon the protagonist in me. If Nova really wants to be taken seriously in the modern Marvel manner, he needs to give birth to a butt-baby conceived via Thanos' craggy cock that will age super-fast into his ultimate nemesis, Black Hole. What the comic world needs now-- is Trevor, Steve Trevor. He's the only victimization that there's just too little of.

    *Hyborian sodomy differs from regular sodomy in that it typically involves repurposed serpents, imaginative sword hilts, and Lovecraftian depths of violation (aka Hentai tentacle rape.)

  14. I'm not trying to be a jerk here, and got am reading your blog in reverse order here, which is why I commented above on a similar subject earlier but, out of curiosity, was that the first time you read The Killing Joke? From the post it sounded like you'd just now come across it.

  15. What we need is lots and lots of comics featuring Superheroines. Lots. Of all sorts, not just the same character with a different costume on. :\

    There's no way to rly write thinking "this is going to be THE superhero that women relate to" just like there's no one superhero that men relate to. :\ Everybody has their favourite XD

    And rly, you can never get it right in one go. Comics rly do work with throw stuff at the wall and see what works. :( So we need way more and we need them written in different ways and not just alone so it's like "here you are girls take it or leave it". :(

    The Killing Joke is brilliant... but it's horrible to relate to as a girl and as a fan of batgirl. :(

  16. My contention here is that The Killing Joke is vile, not because the villain does awful things, but due to the
    (non-)response of the "hero" to those vile acts.

  17. "Sure I know: brilliant commentary on the futility of the war on crime. "We are just two sides of the same coin, you and me." Absolutely brilliant and deep."

    That's not what it is. It's a commentary on the futility of Batman. Of superhero series. On that no matter what one character does, they have to survive to serve the trademark and to tell the same story again and again. That they are both works of fiction, torn from the same cloth. Batman and Joker are the same - brands to be sold, to be used and reused forever. Fiction, ideas, ciphers - Batman can laugh with the Joker despite what he did to Barbara because she is fiction too. She doesn't matter - but then neither do Batman and Joker.

    Doesn't negate your reaction, of course.