By creating quality comics of powerful female superheroes, the comic book world is opening up to a new audience of women and girls as well as giving already hooked fans more of the powerful women they’ve come to know and love.
DC Comics, another major player in comics, has also joined the trend of bringing female characters to the forefront. It has “Wonder Woman” flying solo in a self-titled series, as well as “Supergirl” and even Batman characters like “Batgirl”, “Catwoman” and “Harley Quinn”.
The above (from the Huffington Post) is a sign of why good PR is important, and why DC really, really needs to step up on the issue of diversity in superhero comics.
In a story using the new Thor as a hook, DC merits a “has also joined the trend of bringing female characters to the forefront,” instead of the more accurate “DC led the trend, with seven ongoing titles out of its 2011 relaunch featuring female solo leads at a time when Marvel only had two ongoing female solo leads,” with DC’s number not dropping below seven since then while Marvel managed to reach a point later that year where it has zero ongoing series featuring female leads.
The HuffPo piece (and this Daily Beast piece from the weekend) point out not just how well the Marvel Hype Machine works these days in framing the narrative but almost more importantly just how badly DC does the same thing (It also points out how eagerly journalists for major news outlets eat up talking points instead of going out and researching things sometimes, but that’s neither here nor there).
In all of the news about the replacement Captain America, it’s surprising that no one — myself included — brought up that DC has had a black Superman for the last few months in Earth-2 (or longer, if you want to look at Grant Morrison’s continued use of the Superman from Earth-23). With all the push about diversity in Marvel, no one pointed out that the publisher doesn’t have a solo gay lead, whereas DC’s been putting Batwoman out there for the last three years (Not to mention Green Lantern in Earth-2 or Constantine, who’s bi, I think? He was in Hellblazer, but who can tell in the New 52?).
These are all alternate talking points that DC could (should?) be pushing out there in order to point out that, really, it’s not got a “crisis” or playing catch-up; it’s been there for some time, but not making the same kind of look at us look at us we have friends who aren’t white straight males noises as Marvel whenever it makes these decisions. But, instead, they just sit back and… I don’t know. Hope that someone notices?
(All of which shouldn’t be taken as a “Marvel, you are terrible,” or whatever — it’s not, and its PR machine is very good at what it does — but as a “DC, at this point, you’re practically causing your own bad press.”)
And the second of the two.
Uh, yup to all of this.
both houses: I would compartmentalize their lines for story logic reasons.
DC: Batman/Green Arrow type of stuff would be kept separate from the superheroes. Also: Green Lantern has developed into an internally cohesive mythos that would exist better within its own line.
Marvel: similar deal. I would simply separate the X-Men from the rest of the Marvel Universe. On a personal note, I like Ultimate Marvel and I would probably expand resources into supporting that line.
I would dial down (ie, eliminate) crossover and event comics because I know that while they sell well in the short term, they are disruptive to the companies’ nominal business of serial storytelling.
Trust is a huge part of serial storytelling. Series like Hawkeye and Wonder Woman opened big for their respective companies. The reason that they remain successful is that the creators are permitted to run a tight and cohesive ship, disregarding “outside” “events.” In comics like Hawkeye and Wonder Woman, you come to the table for the creative team and their take on the premise. That is what you get. There is a consistency and a firmness and dedication to retaining a cohesive identity for the project.
As a reader, I trust series much more when the series doesn’t try to rope me into other projects in the hope that I will double (and later triple and quadruple) my reading list. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. In these companies’ attempts to influence customers to buy more products by crossing things over and tying series into one another, they’ve influenced me as a buyer to stop buying their products altogether. Money isn’t infinite and neither is attention. The object shouldn’t be to try to convince each customer to purchase the entire line of products. The object should be to instill customer confidence to where each customer wants to purchase at least one series.
DC: I would either figure out a release negotiation for Milestone or renegotiate the contract of usage of Milestone properties. And I would stop acting as if black writers are difficult to find.
DC: I would make Teen Titans into a comic more in spirit of the tv show. The TV show is a viable property. The comics have been dreadful and inexcusably off-message.
DC: I would do something with Mister Terrific.
DC: pour more financial resources into Vertigo and work on restructuring Vertigo contracts to be more competitive with other creator-oriented imprints.
Marvel: more resources into developing the Icon imprint
Marvel: continue the trend of series that follow a strong creative vision such as Hawkeye, Ms Marvel, Daredevil.
Marvel: simplify the X-Men line by reducing it to one comic titled “X-Men,” or something similar.
Marvel: simplify the Avengers line by reducing it to one comic titled “Avengers” or something similar.
Marvel: the more that people get used to there being only one of something, the less reluctant customers would be to buying things not explicitly titled “Avengers” or “X-Men.”
Marvel: there need to be a comic series titled “Agents of SHIELD.” It doesn’t matter that the tv show is bad. What matters is that this is an unexploited property.
Marvel: I would end the double-shipping program full stop. Once per month is great for comic books. It’s a money grab that turns the company into its own competitor.
MDC: one thing that should change is story density. I shouldn’t be able to read a 20-page comic book in two subway stops. We’re often looking at three to five panels per page. I’m thinking more like five to nine panels per page should be the way to go. Don’t be afraid to cram more story in there. And also don’t be afraid to tell complete stories in single issues. One doesn’t need six issues to get from Point A to Point Z. Since my belief is rooted in creating customer confidence, I believe that customers should get their money’s worth. ALSO: if stories are one issue, you don’t have as much reader discouragement from continuing if a reader happens to miss a few issues or if new readers want to begin reading the series.
MDC: death is pointless and just wouldn’t be used. The company isn’t realistically going to eliminate its own assets so just stop pretending that it’ll happen.
DC/Vertigo: full, erect, genital cocks.
Darryl for Emperor of Comics