And if people were all they said they were, that's how things would be. But no, the world's more complicated than that and your plots and characters speak louder than your press releases. And as it stands, I find Judd Winick an unbearable misogynist and Beau Smith a name to make me check out a book.
Because of Kalinara's raving reviews about Warrior (a comic that is rare in Oklahoma City), I read The Complete Wynonna Earp (which was conveniently on the shelves at my LCS) while I was away. To get a feel for the writer.
While I respect Kalinara's tastes, and enjoyed the few issues of Warrior I did have access to, I never actually expected to like it this much. For one thing, the art was terrible. I mean, seriously. After the origin story, you find yourself in Nineties Art Hell for at least half the book (And I'm going to spare you the samples until I criticize them), then a tale with fairly decent cheescake, and finally some really good art. I promise, I'll do a Feminist Critique of the art in this series one day, and it's not going to be pretty for the first few issues.
I'm not going to lie to you. There's cheesecake. Lots of it. Even with the good art, Wynonna bares her belly, and we see more of her cleavage than is accidental. In the beginning part of the book, my posture peeve is in full force. She's arching her back to stick out her breasts and her butt even as she swordfights. There's skimpy clothing and any excuse to tear at it. The art steadily improves, though, and by Home on the Strange she has a decent wardobe and stands like a hero not a sex toy. The best art is in the very last story. Even then, we get those little cleavage shots -- of course, that story was so damned good I didn't notice them until the second read-through, but they are indeed there.
We could have a field day analyzing the objectification in much of the art of this book. But I only tell you this so you won't go out and buy it when you're sensitive to the artwork, and then be disappointed or even angry about it based on the artwork. I want people to read it, but it's pretty bad in the second two stories (and the fourth story, while drawn by a more talented artist, does have a number of iffy conventions in the artwork)
Writing-wise, I really had fun with the comic. The character was just that enjoyable. Part of it's the Buffy-appeal. She looks like the woman who, in a stock horror movie, would end up running away from the monsters and screaming a lot. Instead, she gets to be an Action Hero, make pithy remarks and roll her eyes at the situations she's in. Everywhere in the story, no matter what's happening, she's self-posessed, calm, and seems in complete control of the situation.
He writes her like a male action hero situation-wise. I saw one instance of being captured and tied up, and guess what -- there was a guy that happened to also. It was the second story (the Mummy one), and she got rescued by her ex-boyfriend (a mobbed up Italian guy I by no means should have liked, but did) in a sequence that reminded me of the girlfriend of a hero rescuing her captured boyfriend. I mean, she's on the table about to be ritually sacrified, he busts in and saves her (and, of course, when he undoes the mummy-wrap he leaves her mostly naked, because we're not quite that enlightened yet. It annoys the crap out of her, and becomes sort of an in-joke on Nineties Image heroines). As they escape, he keeps nagging her, bringing up the past relationship, taking everything she says as a personal jab, while she is all business. How can you not love when they do that?!
As a result, I actually got to read a book with a female main character who was never beated up in a sexualized manner (although yes, she was beaten up and captured a couple of times, it wasn't drawn out or handled in a worse manner than a similar situation in Warrior with Guy Gardner would be), or victimized, or made to seem the least bit weaker because she was female. I got to put aside feminist analysis of the story in favor of enjoying the action, the cheesy jokes, and yes, even the ridiculously over-the-top Nineties Art (my pet peeve about the posture was in full force for most of this trade, only the very first and very last stories -- by Luis Diaz and Manuel Vidal respectively -- had her posed like a proper fighter). It was like being a kid again.
And I really do like this type of female hero -- the aggressive, rough around the edges, active, and practical type, armed with a pair of guns, a tough attitude, and loads of experience hunting monsters. Add to that the non-gendered plotting, and the helpful presence of Redneck Vampires, Hillbilly Gremlins, and Mobbed-Up Mummies and you get an incredibly fun story that women can enjoy -- even when Pat Lee draws it.
Oh, and the Random Background Female Characters Phenomenon that Kalinara mentioned? I saw that too! There was a female US Marshal in Home on the Strange. And she was just there! Just standing there shaking Wynonna's hand. There was no male character to crush over, no dangerously sexualized situation to put her in, she was Just There! I was surprised.
Sometime in the next few years, I'll sit down, and reread it critically from an all-out Feminist perspective, and maybe share my thoughts then, but for now I'm really, really glad I bought this trade. And I hope he writes another Wynonna Earp story (and that the art continues to get progressively better). We need more female characters like this.