Thursday, May 04, 2006

Girls and Green Lantern in Infinite Crisis

Why yes, I did get the Jim Lee cover.

Aside from the obvious goodies featured in this cover (Mmmm... Green Lantern Uniform Pants...), I want you to note 3 things here.

1) G'nort.

2) Wolverine.

3) This orange person.

Hmm... Shaped like and Hourglass, Bare Midriff, what appears to be Breasts... That looks like a woman.

Holy Cats! They let wimmens in the Green Lantern Corps? Who knew?

Yes, There's MoreMild Infinite Crisis #7 Spoilers Below (But you'll barely notice them)

Seriously, I was a little disappointed at the end of Green Lantern Corps: Recharge Remember that big spread with everyone in the Corps by the Central Power Battery on it, the one that had Elvis?

I looked carefully. There were three females -- Brik, Soranik, and this unidentified woman.

And I can hear it now. But Raaaaagnuuulll, they're aaaaaliens! They won't have the same sex characteristics as humans. A lot of those people could be female, and you just can't see it.

Okay, well, then, explain Brik. Brik is a rock-type person, from one of two stone-races on the planet Dryad. She is not an animal, she is a mineral. See the blocky shape and the gray coloring. That is how the artist indicates this.

So why the hell does she have breasts?

Easy, so that we know that she's a female.

You see, in our society, for reasons that remain a mystery to me, males are considered the default. If you see a person who is not obviously female (Breasts, Long Hair, Hourglass Shape, Pink Accessories of some sort are various ways of indicating this) then they are assumed to be male. In a book like Green Lantern Corps, where there is an unnamed background cast of 7200, all you have to go on is visual clues is for most of them. Even being generous, and not making assumptions, there's still a number of humanoid races. These can be obviously male or obviously female. In my experience, most have been obviously male. Male is likely the default to the writers and artists, otherwise why bother to give a rock creature a D-Cup Rack to emphasize her femininity?

This gives us three gender options when looking at the background of Green Lantern stories. 1) Male-Shaped, 2) Female-Shaped, and 3) Funky Alien-Shaped (Assumed to be Male by Default).

I got into a big argument on Comic-Bloc about this one. (And I remember who with this time, his name is associated with Hector Hammond, prison, and showers) All I said was "I'm disappointed we didn't get more new female Green Lanterns during Recharge." I mean, that's an opinion. How can you argue an opinion? I should have known better with Green Lantern fans. We can argue about anything.

It didn't get violent, to our credit. But we did end up listing all of the new Green Lanterns who had lines in the miniseries and the regular series. All of the returned vets. All of the projected returning vets in the upcoming Green Lantern arc (that starts this month). And then working out the ratios. We decided that the Golden Age magic Lanterns shouldn't count. We came up with 5 to 20, a 1:4 ratio, which we estimated to be near what the active duty military gender ratio is. Still, I figure, with Green Lantern, where the concept is warriors chosen specifically on strength of will, the gender ratio should be closer to 1:1, which led to the actual argument. Hammond's bath-giver told me I was putting my hopes too high and we'd never see that. He seemed to find this unreasonable. I didn't. Eventually we started talking about Raker or G'nort and peace came to the Green Lantern chatroom once again.

It weighed on my mind afterwards, so I decided to re-tally it. Going by speaking parts and named people.

Established Male/Male-Shaped/Masculine Characteristics
Hal Jordan
John Stewart
Kyle Rayner
Guy Gardner
Green Man
Isamot Kol
Vath Sarn
Mogo (although assigning gender to a sentient planet makes no sense to me, they refer to Mogo as "He")

Xudarian Male (GL#4)
H'lvenese Apparently Male (GL#4, GLC:R#1, GLC:R#5)
Goblin Female's Rocky Apparently Male Partner (GL#6)
Injured Primate Apparent Male (GLC:R#5)

3 Injured Masculine-Appearing Humanoids (GLC:R#5)

Established Female/Female Shaped
Soranik Natu
Goblin Apprently Female (GL#6)

This gives us a 3:20 Female:Male ratio. 13% Female.

Foreshadowed in Green Lantern #3
Graf Toren
Jack T. Chance


5:26 now. Roughly 24% Female. A little better, but still not at the 50% it should be at.

So, why did I feel a need to do this? Well, because of the crowdscenes in GLC: Recharge. Aside from the two named Females (Soranik and Brik), I saw two other apparent females in the crowdscenes.

In the Crowdscenes:
Apparently Butterfly-type Female (GLC:R#2 Morning Briefing)
Female with the Funky Hat (GL:R#5 Crowdscene)

The rest were all either Male-Shaped or Funky-Alien Shaped and therefore assumed as male by default. It must be the default again, because why else give Brik Bouncy Breasts?

In light of the recent Green Lantern resurrections (Hal, Kilowog), and who had not been resurrected (Katma, Arisia), these background problems jumped out at me. Green Lantern is my favorite franchise you see, and I found it immensely annoying when the only prominent female is there not because she is chosen (like virtually every male character there, now that Johns has retconned out the randomness) for her courage and honesty, but because she was born into the business. In fact, because the heroes in this book are specifically chosen for courage and honesty, I think its even more important to have visible female characters here than in other superhero franchises. All men and no women in this mess sends me a message I am sick of hearing.

This was downright annoying me until I read Infinite Crisis #7 today. From the point where I saw the Lady pictured above, this issue could do no wrong. Inside the issue, when they have the first panel showing the Corps, there are at least four very obviously female characters there. There's more as the book continues. Quite a few, actually. Enough that I still don't feel the need to count and figure out the percentages (maybe later).

Even now, I find myself incapable of giving an objective review, overwhelmed by the pure joy of finally seeing some gender-diversity in my favorite franchise.

Even if background characters are cannon-fodder, it's still pretty damned cool to see a decent number of women there.


  1. I think Mogo's just called "he" for the same reason a lot of non-gendered aliens in Sci-Fi are. "It" is impersonal. "He" is the closest thing to gender neutral (Women=Other thing agan).

    Not saying that's right, but it probably means Mogo's not male-identified.

    But still, yay, women!

    Though really, it was obvious there'd be more women in the GLC, who else is Guy going to get slapped by on a regular basis? :-)

  2. I would like to see a female Mogo show up, if only because a crime fighting giant planet with breasts would be a hoot.

  3. well, a whole buncha rings went off looking for new bearers.

    maybe some broads will get tapped for the honor.

    or maybe it will be bears. actual bears.

    i'd read that book.

  4. Your observation is strong, but your math is off. Things are actually a little worse than you say:

    3 out of 23 is actually 13%, and 5 out of 31 is 23.8%. (You were using the number of male GLs as the total, instead of using the number of females plus males.)

  5. Considering the general criteria required for being a GL (and yes, I know the specifics have changed over the years and creative teams), surely many people who are already superheroes would qualify. Of course, this concept has been used a lot in elseworlds/imaginary stories (such as when Kal-El becomes the GL of sector 2813 in Morrison's JLA).

    Of course, this would allow for many female superheroes becoming GLs as well. Just imagine though, what if Wonder Woman became a GL? She'd be great, surely. She's fearless, brave, wilful, honest and all the rest. Maybe I'm crazy, but that sounds like a perfect candidate. Has this idea been done already in an elseworlds tale? If not, I'd certainly like to see it.

    Somewhat less likely though is my personal choice for Green Lantern Corps member: She-Hulk (hmm, must go and write that particular fanfic).

  6. Re: Lots of women

    Including the new Shining Knight, which I was very surprised by.

  7. Steven -- G'nort's a complicated story. He was originally picked for a fake GL group (a bunch of knockoffs created to discredit the Corps), actually, and when Guy finally stopped taking his "My uncle got me in" story at face value, it led to an investigation and a disbanding of the fake group. It was brain-damaged Guy who made the case for G'nort to get a real ring, so it's his damned fault.

    batiduende -- BWAHAHAHAHA!!

    Isaac -- Ooops. It's been years since I had to do statistics (Hell, it's been years since I had to sit down and calculate Voltage, Current or Resistance and that's where math comes into my job) and I tossed in the percentages at the last minute.

    jay -- Hmm, there was a JLA Elseworlds where all the members were GLs. I don't own it, but I've seen scans. WW was in it.

    I think she, Black Canary, Oracle (who got the ring in the Created Equal Elseworld story), Power Girl would be particularly well-suited to the GLC, actually. And that's jsut off the top of my head.

    Anon -- Man, I love the new Shining Knight -- King Arthur and DC Comics finally mesh together in a way I like!

  8. Infinite Crisis just started picking up (where it should have been by issue 3) by the time it finished, and there was some good stuff in the last issue, not least of which was the sight of more female GL's than I've seen in a long time.

    If any of them survive long enough to feature in the regular book I might even make the effort to start reading it.

  9. Did you wind up seeing JLA: Another Nail? I'd have to say my favorite thing out of that whole story was a power ring going looking for a new owner in the vicinity of Apokalips — and finding Big Barda.

    Big Barda, Green Lantern. Too damn awesome.

  10. re: another nail. although, technically, didn't that ring go to find scott free?

  11. Wolverine? am i stupid for looking everywhere for wolverine?

    oh and the huge 4 armed guy on the cover of IC6 with all the lanterns... the one with the long black hair right above martian manhunter and next to the pink female fish-ish lantern...whats his name?... Its been bothering me for such a long time so can somebody please let me know who it is?