Monday, June 06, 2011

They decided not to even TRY to top Grant Morrison here.

So DC's posted the Big Franchise, the Batman books for September, and I am beyond underwhelmed this time. The sad offerings for their flagship franchise make the Green Lantern announcement seem rather optimistic and serve to soothe any anxieties I may have had about Azzarello's Wonder Woman.

Because damn it, even if he goes totally over the edge to make her edgy at least they gave Wonder Woman to top notch talent.

The Batman franchise announcements are weak.

They've said that Morrison is involved, but I suspect his involvement stopped at making a list of everything he'd created for the Batman universe and circling one random item. Then the editors instructed the other writers to undo everything but that item.

The good news is, we've gotten to keep Damien. Thing is, he'll be Bruce's Robin. I think Morrison established quite nicely that the two didn't quite work out together and I really liked the dynamic with Dick, but there are unexplored avenues with his real father. Also, Batman and Robin will be the Tomasi-Gleason series making it the second most interesting title to me and putting it on the maybe pile.

The bad news? The three other books starring Bruce Wayne don't look the slightest bit distinctive or intriguing. They seem generic and none of the writers appeal to me.

The next announcements were the female-led books. Now, it is a good idea to have as many female-focused Batbooks on the market as you can because Batman has a huge female fanbase and they love Extended Gotham. This announcement was where the one must-buy book came in for me: Batwoman by J.H. Williams III, Haden Blackman and Amy Reeder.

It seems that the last push-back was to coincide with this reboot, so finally we will get our promised Batwoman solo series, five years after the first rumors spread about a Rucka-penned series. But who cares, we finally get Batwoman.

The Catwoman cover was annoying but not a turnoff on its own. She's leaning backwards, unzipped to the navel. BUT since she's wearing pants, apparently she's tastefully done. Ugh. Still, I freaking love Catwoman even though they cheesecake her up all the time so I was intrigued... until I saw Judd Winick was writing it, and it had the following solicit:
Meet Catwoman. She’s addicted to the night. Addicted to shiny objects. Addicted to Batman. Most of all, Catwoman is addicted to danger. She can’t help herself, and the truth is – she doesn’t want to. She’s good at being bad, and very bad at being good. Find out more about what makes Catwoman tick in CATWOMAN #1, written by Judd Winick and illustrated by Guillem March.

Yeah, screw going from the Robin Hood of Gotham to that. I'll be rereading my old Catwoman comics instead.

Batgirl I knew I wouldn't want at first look. The cover was a redhead. Now, Barbara Gordon has always been a fine character even thought she's not one of my favorites. I'm not even half as interested in her as Batgirl as I am in her as Oracle though. Oracle is a unique and powerful character that serves as Batman's chief lieutenant. Oracle is one of the few disabled superheroes in comics. Batgirl is just another martial artist on the level of Nightwing and the Robins.

Other writers have covered the wheelchair better. She's a disabled hero, and that means a lot more in terms of diversity than another female Bat-sidekick.

I speculated that it might be an origin story, and someone on Tumblr is suggesting she'll be Oracle again soon but... Gail Simone is writing. Read that post, that excitement. And we all know from every interview she's wanted this since she did WiR. I really think the intention in this case is to keep her as Batgirl.

Disappointing. Not enough to chase me out of the DCU, but I've no reason to pick up this book, or the revamped Oracleless Birds of Prey, which interests me as much as... something so uninteresting I can't even call it to mind. I don't even care who the creative team is there. Nor do I give a damn about 3 characters I have no interest in or more Judd Winick writing.

Last, and actually the least, Nightwing #1. The initial cover leak had us all asking "Could it be Dick Grayson?"

Yeah, it's Dick Grayson.

These are the worst offerings yet.

ETA: Fortunately, they're continuing Batman, Inc in 2012 as Batman: Leviathon and I'll read it, but really, that doesn't make the September Batbooks any less pathetic.


  1. Serious question... what's the problem with Judd Winick? I'm not a DC fan, I'm only just getting into a number of graphic novels, and I don't think I've ever read anything by him. But what I knew about him is that he made (one of the?) only HIV-positive characters, Speedy, which sounds awesome. The description of Catwoman sounds crappy but you seem to be referring to more than that?

  2. I'm glad that Damian is Bruce's sidekick. I didn't like the idea of Bruce being a deadbeat dad.

  3. Agree with pretty much all of this. Bat line reshuffled some characters, put Bruce back in costume as sole Batman in time for a movie (though he was dead I think during last movie or in process of RIPing) and DC finally got to do the long wanted Oracle/Batgirl retcon. I'll be reading Tomasi and Gleason's B&R, but Daneils and Finch are no interest at all.

    I do hope you'll consider Scott Snyder's Detective and eventual switch to Batman for the revamp. He's doing some great things and is a real talent for DC right now. He also writes American Vampire if you are unfamiliar with him.

    Re: Judd Winick, writers dont write the solicits. Most are pretty bad if you look at them, but the cheesecake cover and solicit text dont really lend well as a draw.

    For Winick's talent, he's improved a LOT over the years, especially since Green Arrow days. Doesn't beat you over the head with things anymore and no soapboxing/mischaracterizations (or gross mischaracterizations anyways). He did some good things with Generation Lost and, while no Morrison or anything, might be worth checking out, at least for the first issue, to see how he handles her.


    "The next announcements were the female-led books. Now, it is a good idea to have as many female-focused Batbooks on the market as you can because Batman has a huge female fanbase and they love Extended Gotham."

    Unrelated note, but is this just hyperbole or is there some numbers/fact behind this statement? In hindsight, it seems like most of DC's female characters and titles starring them (that are typically good) are from the Bat franchise, so I suppose that would probably draw in a lot of female readers, but had never read any numbers related to that. Has there ever been a male/female demographics and title purchasing habits fact finding mission done in comics?

  4. I WAS interested in Catwoman, until I saw that Winick was writing it, and that was that.

    I can REALLY hold a grudge.

  5. You know, as a rape survivor, I’ll never forget how I felt when I first read Killing Joke (which came out about a year after I was assaulted). It just crushed my soul. I cried reading that and couldn’t even look at any comics for weeks after because I was afraid of what I’d see. I guess that sounds feeble but it’s how I felt. And it wasn’t long before another character I liked, Alanna Strange was gang raped in the Adam Strange story “Man of Two Worlds”. Even though it happened in a “dream” it didn’t make it any less painful to see.

    Yes, Barbara Gordon had given up the cowl before Killing Joke. But the lack of creativity that took Batgirl out of commission and the disgusting act of misogyny that followed spiked the ball and over time made it clear that she wasn’t ever going to be Batgirl again. That the act of violence is now looked at as the character evolving or completely disregarded altogether because enough time has passed to make it all “cannon” is also hurtful.

    But the fact is that Barbara's career was cut too short and she never had the level of writing that the guy characters had (that didn't make me love her any less). We didn’t have a Gail Simone in those days. We did have a Louise Simonson but unfortunately she wasn’t writing Batgirl. No one cared enough about the character to make her as iconic as she could have been. She didn’t even get a damn miniseries.

    But what really hurts is that now I’m excited to see Barbara return as Batgirl and I can’t even share my excitement because I’m now being called an “ableist” for it. I’m now an idiot because only an idiot would want to see uncreative stories of a “demoted” Barbara Gordon. It’s hard enough to be a “geek girl” as they call it in a male dominated hobby. That’s isolating enough as it is. But it’s even more hurtful and isolating and alienating when fellow women who are fans of the same character turn against you and make you feel like shit for wanting to see that character you loved just fly out of that chair and return (for however long this reboot lasts) to a role that I wish she had never left. Also hurtful to be a fan of Gail and see charges of "sellout" and "ableist" levelled against her. In my opinion she deserves better from Barbara Gordon fans.

    I hope this is a “pre Killing Joke” story. I don’t want to lose Oracle, I love Oracle. Nor do I want to lose Steph or Cass. I want to see disabled characters represented in comics, want to see people of color, want to see more women, want more diversity. But the fact of the matter is that that wheelchair has a completely different meaning to me than it might have for others. For me it’s not a symbol of diversity and empowerment. It’s a constant reminder of how a 16 year old girl who was raped read a horrible story in a comic book and lost a superhero she loved to an act of evil. Personally, I think it will be so wonderful to read new Batgirl stories and not have that oppressive reminder of violence for a change. If my fellow Batgirl fans wish to disown me and label me as an ableist for that, then so be it. I’ve lived with much, much worse.

  6. Anonymous, I've also been sexually assaulted, and I'm disabled, though I don't use a wheelchair. I can understand your frustration at the misogyny behind the decision to cripple Barbara--a decision as equally ableist, because they believed that by crippling her they were making her worthless and irrelevant.

    I don't think it's ableist for you to want that to have never happened. But while I'm sympathetic to what you lost (I was 3 when the Killing Joke was printed; Barbara has never been Batgirl to me), you should worry less about being called ableist and more about how your words impact others. Wheelchairs are liberating for their users, not confining, and what a wheelchair symbolizes to YOU as someone who does not use one is less important than what it symbolizes to one who does. There's nothing wrong with having a strong reaction to Barbara--I do, too--but privileging your perception of what a wheelchair represents over actual users is ableist.

    I don't mean to sound harsh, but your experiences and disability are not mutually exclusive: plenty of women are wheelchair users who have been raped, and this takes something away from them too. Making Oracle Batgirl won't erase what they did, and it will take from us the only prominent disabled hero in DC.

  7. Wow. So in other words I'm privileged and ableist? If you were trying not to sound harsh I'm here to tell you that you didn't succeed.

    My perception is my perception. I can't turn off how I feel. I'm simply saying what that wheelchair is a reminder of to "me", not what it "should" mean to everyone else. I have the right to have my own perception and my own feelings without being labeled as "privileged" and "ableist". Just as you have the right to believe that my perception and feelings are "less important" than yours.

    It's sad that you can't take your own advice with regards to "how your words affect others". This is exactly the lack of tolerance that I was referring to. I have no desire for Oracle to be taken away. That's not my decision. I wish it was. But it seems to me that people like you are projecting the anger over that decision onto fans of a character that might have a meaning to them that differs from yours and others.

    Perpetuating this divisiveness helps no one. I'd like ALL fans of Barbara Gordon to be able to embrace what she means to everyone, not just themselves and be able to share that meaning with other fans without being told that the meaning she has to me is "less important". But it seems that's just not going to happen. I guess I should just find my own echo chamber and stay in it. Seems like that's the fashionable thing to do these days.

  8. Anonymous,

    Yes, you're privileged. You do understand what the word means, right? It's not an attack, it's the involuntary state of receiving unearned benefits from society, just like I'm privileged for being white.

    I didn't say you were ableist, and I should have been clearer about that in my reply--IF you are privileging what the wheelchair means to you over people who actually use one, that is ableist. That said, you should worry less about being called ableist. You are privileged, *in relation to disabled people*, you probably screw up occasionally (I'm sure I do), it's not the end of the world.

    I didn't say what SHE means to you is less important than what she means to someone else. That's bullshit. But what a wheelchair means to you is less important than what it means to a wheelchair user, and your feelings, and the feelings of any other abled person, should not be used to determine how wheelchairs and disability are portrayed in the media.

  9. I think it's a rather amazing gift you have that you are able to determine whether or not someone you have never met is "Privileged" or not. That you feel superior and arrogant enough to make that call makes me feel very sorry for you.

    And yes. I do worry about being called an ableist when I'm not one. I find it worrisome and hurtful. Just as I would worry if someone called me a racist when I was not one. Accusations like that can have a devastating effect on someone’s life. For someone like you who seems concerned how people use their words, I would think you would know that. I would also worry about the mob mentality that nurtured the mindset that whatever ones belief or lot in life, that it was acceptable to brand someone something they weren't because they felt their cause was "just".

    "But what a wheelchair means to you is less important than what it means to a wheelchair user, and your feelings, and the feelings of any other abled person, should not be used to determine how wheelchairs and disability are portrayed in the media."

    So now I'm accused of being complicit in the negative portrayals of wheelchairs and the disabled in the media? You know what I said earlier about "projecting"? Your comment is a textbook example. I speak for myself, not the media and not for you. I'm not doing the things that you are accusing me of. And that's exactly the problem. Please try not to demean and marginalize differing opinions, no matter how less important you think that opinion might be. Whether one is in a wheelchair or not, whether one is disabled or not, false accusations and demeaning, marginalizing comments are unacceptable. Unacceptable. It does nothing to promote intelligent dialogue. It actually has the opposite effect. Please consider this before you enter into another conversation and try to put labels on someone and marginalize the opinion of someone whom you know nothing about. It fosters an environment that is not conducive to acceptance of differences.

    I find it incredibly sad that that environment has become so pervasive on blogs frequented by women, run by women promoting diversity. Even more sad when the topic being used as a wedge is a female hero that once upon a time had the ability to unite all kinds of women, all kinds of people. I will post no further comments on this blog. Feel free to insult me to your hearts content.

  10. Anonymous, it's not a slur. If you're abled, you have able privilege. It's not your fault, it's not an attack, it's the definition of the concept. Just like if you're white you have white privilege. It has nothing to do with YOU, it's benefits conferred to you by society.