Women At DC Comics Watch – September 2016 Solicits, 28 Women on 21 Books

June 28, 2016

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DC’s not had the best run with female creators over the course of their past few rounds of solicits. Since their “Rebirth” relaunch began in June, the numbers have been well below their usual level, and far off from their previous highs. It looks like September might mark the end of this skid, but I’m not entirely sure that this increase in female creators is going to last. We’ll discuss more, after we look at who’s doing what at DC Comics in September 2016:

  • Amanda Conner: Harley Quinn #3 (co-writer, cover), Harley Quinn #4 (co-writer, cover), Harley Quinn and her Gang of Harleys #6 (cover)
  • Amanda Deibert: Wonder Woman ’77 Special #4 (co-writer)
  • Amy Chu: Wonder Woman ’77 Special #4 (co-writer)
  • Babs Tarr: Doom Patrol #1 (variant cover)
  • Becky Cloonan: Gotham Academy: Second Semester #1 (co-writer)
  • Bilquis Evely: The Flintstones #3 (variant cover)
  • Carmen Carnero: Astro City #39 (interior art)
  • Cat Staggs: Wonder Woman ’77 Special #4 (cover)
  • Claire Roe: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #2 (interior art)
  • Emanuela Lupacchino: Green Lanterns #6 (variant cover), Green Lanterns #7 (variant cover)
  • Fiona Staples: Gotham Academy: Second Semester #1 (variant cover)
  • Gail Simone: Clean Room #12 (writer)
  • Holly Black: Lucifer #10 (writer)
  • Hope Larson: Batgirl #3 (writer)
  • Jenny Frison: Clean Room #12 (cover)
  • Joelle Jones: American Vampire Anthology #2 (interior art)
  • Julie Benson: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #2 (co-writer)
  • Kamome Shirahama: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #2 (variant cover)
  • Marguerite Bennett: American Vampire Anthology #2 (writer), DC Comics Bombshells #17 (writer)
  • Meghan Hetrick: Red Thorn #11 (interior art)
  • Mirka Andolfo: DC Comics Bombshells #17 (interior art)
  • Nicola Scott: Wonder Woman #6 (interior art)
  • Rachel Dodson: Superwoman #2 (variant cover)
  • Sandra Hope: Cyborg: Rebirth #1 (inker), Gotham Academy: Second Semester #1 (inker)
  • Shawna Benson: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #2 (co-writer)
  • Tess Fowler: Wonder Woman ’77 Special #4 (interior art)
  • Trina Robbins: Wonder Woman ’77 Special #4 (co-writer)
  • Tula Lotay: Everafter: From the Pages of Fables #1 (cover)

All  together, there are 28 different female creators set to work on 21 different comic books, an impressive gain from August’s 20 and 21, respectively. September also marks DC’s best total since March, quite a lull for the publisher, though as I mentioned at the top, the numbers are still far from their past highs.

And also probably fleeting. Between a couple of anthology books (Wonder Woman ’77 Special #4 and the resolicited American Vampire Anthology #2) and variant covers, at least a third of the gigs listed above are unlikely to be back in October; they’re one-shot jobs. It’s great that these books are loaded with female creators and that so many women are getting cool variant cover gigs, but it’s not a stable position like writing or interior art tends to be. Next month could drop off quite a bit.

Though there are some new, more stable gigs in the mix. Gotham Academy: Second Semester returns with regular jobs for co-writer Becky Cloonan and inker Sandra Hope, while the new Everafter: From the Pages of Fables could prove to be a consistent cover position for Tula Lotay. Three more regulars is good news.

In terms of female characters, Supergirl is officially launching her new title in September, the return of Gotham Academy means more fun adventures for Olive and Maps, and there’s also a Raven mini-series. In new team books, Wonder Woman will be a key player in Trinity, while Raven and Starfire will be part of the new Teen Titans. So it’s a pretty solid month across the board for fictional women too, and a great month if you happen to be a Raven enthusiast.

Overall, September looks to be a strong month for women at DC, but I’m not sure that it will last. Gerard Way’s Doom Patrol is set to premiere then, though, which may mean that the rest of his line is rolling out soon; that would be good news, because several female characters have been attached to those projects. It’ll take several new books to keep these numbers up in October, and we’ll find out in a month or so if DC is up to the task.

Go Support “Sequential Crush Presents How to Go Steady” On Kickstarter!

June 27, 2016

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I don’t post about a lot of comic book Kickstarter projects here because there’s always a billion of them going on, many of which look fun or intriguing for one reason or another. But every so often there’s a project that I think everyone should get behind, and today that project is Sequential Crush Presents How to Go Steady by Jacque Nodell, with art by Jenny Cimino. The book is a how-to guide for love and dating based on romance comic books from the 1960s and 1970s, and it looks fantastic.

Romance comics are often overlooked by comic fans these days. When we think of the history of the medium, we often just focus on superheroes, or the brief crime/horror surge of the early 1950s, but romance comics were a big deal for a long time. They first debuted in the mid-1940s and became increasingly popular; by the 1960s, practically every comic book publisher had at least one romance book, if not several. It was a massively popular genre, and one of the very few corners of the comic book world marketed directly at female readers.

Reading old romance comics today is always entertaining because they were very much of their time, and often behind the times a bit since they tended to embody the values of the old white men who published them rather than the trendy young girls who read them. But they definitely did evolve as American society did, even resulting in some distinctly feminist tales by the 1970s. The genre offers a fascinating perspective on how young women were viewed in this era, as well as the dominant values of the period and how they changed.

Nothing better captured these dominant values than the advice columns that appeared in almost every romance comic series. Young girls would write in to ask advice on everything related to romance, from kissing to dating to fashion to jealousy to break ups, and the advice columnists would try to steer them in the proper direction. Jacque Nodell has pored over innumerable stories and advice columns to put together this book that explores the “timeless dating advice, wisdom, and lessons from vintage romance comics.”

And she’s certainly the best woman for the job! Her website, Sequential Crush, is arguably the best online resource for classic romance comics, a veritable treasure trove of old stories, advice columns, and quizzes, along with thoughtful and illuminating commentary on them all. In a landscape where the history of romance comics is too often ignored, Jacque Nodell has continually shone a light on the genre.

Jacque was actually a huge help in my own research, too. While putting together Investigating Lois Lane, I was stumped by a blatantly anti-feminist letter column that ran during Lois Lane’s women’s lib era when editor Dorothy Woolfolk revitalized her series; I couldn’t find information about it anywhere, and had no idea how to tackle it in the book. Then I found out about a similar column from a romance comic that was also edited by Woolfolk on Sequential Crush, and all the pieces fell into place. You’ll have to read my book to find out how, but my chapter on the subject owes a huge debt to Jacque!

Sequential Crush Presents How to Go Steady also features original art by Jenny Cimino which looks gorgeous; she’s totally capturing the classic romance comic vibe with her work here. The project as a whole should be a great, interesting read, and will be of particular interest to comic book fans, romance fans, and history buffs alike. You should definitely go take a look at it and considering backing the project; it’s almost a third of the way there now, and I’m very much hoping to see it make its funding goal and even more because this is definitely a book I want to have. Comics! History! Romance! What more could you want?

Wonder Woman #1 Review: Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp Start Strong

June 22, 2016

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The new Wonder Woman has officially begun! And good lord, was this overdue. I’m glad DC’s going with a linewide relaunch to try to address some of the New 52’s many deficiencies, but a new direction for Wonder Woman should have happened a couple of years ago, really. Instead, they just left the character in poor hands across multiple titles, leading to a rather unpleasant run for Diana. But she’s in steady hands now, and seems poised to be one of the breakout stars of the “Rebirth” initiative. So let’s dive into this first issue of her direction, written by Greg Rucka with art by Liam Sharp, right after this:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am going to discuss ALL of the significant plot points in this issue!

If you haven’t read it yet, look away!

So how was it? It was good. A solid first issue, for sure. I wasn’t blown away by it, there were no real exciting reveals or shocking turns or the like, but I definitely enjoyed it. I particularly liked what it’s setting up; there are a lot of little things in the issue that I loved or found intriguing that have me looking forward to this run even more than I was already, even though this first issue as a whole was more “very good” than “OH DANG, IT’S GREAT!” for me. There’s always a lot of setting the table in a first issue, and I like what Rucka and Sharp have laid out.

The issue starts with Wonder Woman in the African jungles of Bwunda, searching for someone we eventually find out is the Cheetah. The art in the Wonder Woman section of the book is gorgeous. I love the lush jungles that Liam Sharp creates, as well as the locales and poses in which he places Wonder Woman. Visually, it’s very compelling, and Laura Martin’s colours highlight Sharp’s detailed linework beautifully. The chaos of the Cheetah’s attack at the end of the issue is particularly well done; the art gets more scratchy and blurred as the Cheetah assaults Wonder Woman, communicating the speed and ferocity of the attack.

However, the story we get out of the Wonder Woman pages is fairly minimal. She’s mostly walking through Sharp’s lovely scenery, looking for someone. She makes some bad ass declarations about warnings and how after the third warning, all bets are off, and that’s all pretty cool, but the dialogue is sparse and we don’t really learn much of anything until the final page, when Wonder Woman tells the Cheetah that she can’t find Themyscira and that she wants her to help her do so. It’s a big reveal that could set up a fun team-up moving forward, but getting there, while a visually striking, is a bit meandering.

The other half of the book is dedicated to Etta Candy and Steve Trevor, and it sure is nice to have them back in Wonder Woman after their complete absence from the book in the New 52 era. They are two of the most important characters in the Wonder Woman mythos, and leaving them out of the series for so long was a ridiculous decision all around. What’s more, Rucka and Sharp have corrected one of the New 52’s unfortunate trends of turning curvy women into thin supermodels; Etta was one of the many characters affected by this universal slimming, but here she’s more like her old, pre-New 52 self, sporting the curves she is known for. It’s a small change, but it indicates that Rucka and Sharp a) understand the character, and b) know where the New 52 went wrong.

The Etta/Steve section has a bit more going on, with Etta communicating with Steve from Langley while he’s also in Africa with a special forces group, tracking down a war lord named Cadulo. The scenes are very well written; Rucka is one of the best writers in comics for capturing military lingo and making everything both realistic and accessible for readers. We also get a bit of backstory, with Steve telling Etta that he hasn’t spoken to Wonder Woman in some time. Steve appears to be in Bwunda as well, and presumably their paths will cross soon, especially because of what Steve discovers there.

This is what intrigued me even more than the Themyscira reveal: Steve ends up in a village where all of the girls have been kidnapped by Cadulo, a clear reference to the horrific Boko Haram kidnappings in Nigeria from two years ago. For the past several years, Wonder Woman has stayed far away from current events, but this might signal a return to a more relevant Wonder Woman, which I would be glad to see. Plus, in Rucka’s hands, I think it could be a very compelling story. The obvious superhero solution is that Wonder Woman swoops in, defeats Cadulo, saves the girls, and rah rah Wonder Woman, but I imagine that Rucka will make things a little more complicated than that. I’m excited to see how he has Wonder Woman engage with this issue; it’s exactly the sort of thing that I think Wonder Woman should address.

All together, this was a strong first issue that sets up a lot of things I’m very interested to see play out. I love that Rucka and Sharp are doing both real world and mythical based stories from the get-go, with the twin reveals of a lost Themyscira and kidnapped African girls. The parallels of missing women in both spheres of Wonder Woman’s life can’t be a coincidence, and it’s a smart, compelling way to start the series. While the issue was perhaps a little light on story, the art was great throughout and the last few pages had me keen to find out what’s next. It will be a little while until we can do so, though; Nicola Scott joins the book with Wonder Woman #2 in three weeks for the first part of “Year One”, and then Liam Sharp is back in five weeks with the second part of this story. I’m looking forward to both!

Wonder Woman’s September 2016 Covers and Solicits

June 21, 2016

DC Comics’ solicits for September were released yesterday, and it looks like Wonder Woman’s got some fun adventures ahead of her, as well as a new series in which she co-stars. How lovely it is to be looking forward to all of the Wonder Woman comics coming out in a given month; it’s been so long since that’s been the case. So let’s see what Wonder Woman will be up to in September, starting with her eponymous series:

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WONDER WOMAN #6
Written by GREG RUCKA
Art and cover by NICOLA SCOTT
Variant cover by FRANK CHO
“WONDER WOMAN YEAR ONE” part 3! Diana brings Steve back home, but the reception is not what either of them expected. Amid suspicion and a looming threat, the Patrons pay a visit, and new friendships are forged.
On sale SEPTEMBER 14 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

WONDER WOMAN #7
Written by GREG RUCKA
Art and cover by LIAM SHARP
Variant cover by TBD
“THE LIES” part 4! One god down—how many more to go? Diana takes another step closer to the truth, and Steve Trevor confronts his past!
On sale SEPTEMBER 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

The cover this month (we’re still only getting one of the two for some reason) is by Nicola Scott, and it’s fun to see Wonder Woman with her animal pals. Perhaps they’re planning an adorable prison escape? I’d be down for that. It sounds like the Amazons don’t love that Wonder Woman has brought Steve to their home, seeing as she’s in jail and all. But the world’s cutest jail break is on the way.

In the present, well, the solicit is very vague. It sounds like a bad time for the gods, since one of them is down and all, but we don’t know in what capacity they are down. Or if they’re even the real gods, I suppose. Everything is in question! Nothing is true! The gods sit on a throne of lies! It’s all very mysterious, but it should be a lot of fun.

Wonder Woman is co-starring in a new book, too:

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TRINITY #1
Written by FRANCIS MANAPUL
Art and cover by FRANCIS MANAPUL
Variant cover by TBD
“BETTER TOGETHER” part 1! Together again for the first time! Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. The core of the World’s Greatest Heroes…but with a new Man of Steel, the bonds these three share will be tested and redefined by super-star writer/artist Francis Manapul. In this premiere issue, see the trio travel from Metropolis to Gotham City and beyond to learn what forces launched their heroic careers. But how will this journey of discovery lead them to a new threat?
On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

Team up! It’s just like Batman v Superman, but hopefully not so terrible. With Francis Manapul at the helm, it could be pretty cool. It’ll be gorgeous for sure, at least. His art is always spectacular. Plus we’ve got the good Superman back now since the New 52 Superman is dead; I’m optimistic, and I’m going to have to check this one out. We’ve got another pretty vague solicit here, but “superheroes teaming up for an adventure” is something I can always get behind if it looks bright and fun.

Finally, we’ve got another Wonder Woman ’77 special, though no cover yet:

WONDER WOMAN ’77 SPECIAL #4
Written by MARC ANDREYKO, AMY CHU, TRINA ROBBINS and AMANDA DEIBERT
Art by TOM DERENICK, DARIO BRIZUELA, TESS FOWLER and CHRISTIAN DUCE
Cover by CAT STAGGS
After narrowly escaping Wonder Woman (and the law) once before, Gault (actually his disembodied brain!) plots revenge…and seeks a new body to house his evil! Plus, “Worlds Collide” when a tape full of government secrets gets swapped for some excellent Super Funk! We peek at “The Man Behind the Curtain” when a dictator tries to fulfill his daughter’s final wish. And in “Seeing Stars,” Wonder Woman proves herself not a just the protector of Earth…but of the universe.
On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 80 pg, FC, $7.99 US RATED E • DIGITAL FIRST

Just look at this line up of creators! There are so many amazing people in the mix here, both writers and artists. It should be a fantastic issue. Plus with that last story, “Seeing Stars”, is Wonder Woman going to space? That would be rad. Lynda Carter in space sounds like an exciting time, and exactly what the series is for, i.e. cool things the show could never have afforded to do. Looking forward to this one.

Be sure to pick up all of these books in September! It looks like it’s going to be a great month for Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman #1 Preview: Hitting the Ground Running

June 20, 2016

Following up on Wonder Woman Rebirth #1 from two weeks back, the new Wonder Woman series is set to officially launch this Wednesday. Yes, I know it’s confusing to have a Wonder Woman Rebirth #1 followed by Wonder Woman #1. It seems like a dumb strategy to me, too. Everything would be a lot simpler if the special was the first issue, but DC wanted to make a whole big thing of it. Regardless, here we are, with the book debuting for real this time.

The first issue picks up where the “Rebirth” special left off, with Wonder Woman trying to understand the discrepancies in her past. It’s set in the present, and written by Greg Rucka with art by Liam Sharp. The next issue will be set in the past, with art by Nicola Scott, and the two stories will alternate for the next six months. Comic Book Resources has a preview of the first issue, so let’s take a look:

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So first off, this is pretty gorgeous stuff. Sharp’s been super enthusiastic about his Wonder Woman gig since it was first announced, and you can see that in his art. It’s lush and detailed and just lovely all around. The starless tiara annoys me a bit, just because I’m a traditionalist that way, but everything else looks very nice.

While we’ve got five pages of the book here, we don’t have a lot of story. It seems that Rucka and Sharp just decided to open the issue with a bunch of rad shots of Wonder Woman, and I’m cool with that. I’m sure the rest of the book will have some more meat to it and dig into the mysteries surrounding Wonder Woman. All we know so far is that she’s in an African jungle and that she’s looking for some answers. From the scratch marks on the tree on the final two page spread, I think that she might be looking for the Cheetah; plus the jungle seems a logical place for the Cheetah to hang out. We’ll find out in a couple of days!

Wonder Woman #1 is out this Wednesday online and in comic shops everywhere. Check it out! It’s going to be pretty, and should be a good read. This is a stellar creative team, and I’m very excited to see what they do with Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Logo Revealed

June 15, 2016

annlogo.jpgWonder Woman’s 75th anniversary is fast approaching. She first appeared in All Star Comics #8, which was cover dated December 1941/January 1942, though if you want to get really specific with an anniversary date, the book hit newsstands on October 25, 1941. From there she launched Sensation Comics and then Wonder Woman, and she’s been a mainstay in the superhero world ever since. DC is preparing to celebrate Wonder Woman’s diamond anniversary, and has unveiled a new logo that will accompany the many books and products they’re planning to release.

People has the exclusive details of DC’s big anniversary plans, but the article is actually rather low on new information. It talks about the upcoming Wonder Woman movie and the new “Rebirth” comic book series, but neither is really news. The article also mentioned a couple of San Diego Comic-Con exclusive toys, like a tweaked version of the Batman v Superman Wonder Woman Barbie and a cool Wonder Woman figure with an invisible jet, both of which had been announced previously. The jet does look pretty awesome, though:

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I’m going to have to look into getting one of those.

The only new information in the piece is that Converse is putting out a special edition Wonder Woman leather sneaker, which sounds pretty fun. We don’t have any specifics or pictures yet, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Oh, and the article includes Diane Nelson mentioning that Wonder Woman won’t have an invisible jet in her upcoming movie, which is a little disappointing. The invisible jet is classic Wonder Woman fun. Sort of silly, sure, but enjoyable nonetheless. I’m trying not to read too much into its exclusion, but it does strike me as a move away from comic book fun to a more realistic take on the character, and ugh. Hopefully the film can work in some of Wonder Woman’s other iconic elements in cool ways.

So yeah, the big anniversary is coming! And DC’s got a nice logo for whatever else they decide to do with it. They’ve unveiled some additional plans on their own website, including products coming from Under Armor and Pottery Barn, a special focus on Wonder Woman in DC Super Hero Girls, and curated Wonder Woman themed Spotify playlists from female celebrities. DC also has some fun book collections on the way, including the Wonder Woman: A Celebration of 75 Years compilation book in September and a boxset of four iconic Wonder Woman stories from George Perez, Greg Rucka, Gail Simone, and Brian Azzarello out in November. I anticipate that we’ll see a lot more merchandise and books as the film approaches, and hopefully the anniversary fun will roll on for the next year or so!

Women in Comics Statistics: DC and Marvel, April 2016 in Review

June 13, 2016

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My latest “Gendercrunching” column went up last week at Bleeding Cool, and both Big Two publishers posted relatively strong numbers for female creators in April 2016.

DC’s overall percentage of female creators rose to 16.7%, their highest total in almost a year. Marvel dropped very slightly to 18.7% female creators overall, only a 0.1% dip from their record setting March total. All together, it’s one of the best combined totals we’ve seen from the Big Two since the column began.

We also began our biannual tour of other direct market publishers, and saw some decent numbers there, too. Image posted an overall percentage of female creators of 18.2%, IDW came in at 14.1% overall, and Boom! Studios hit a new high with a whopping 39.1% female creators. Every publisher at least in the teens with female creators is big change for the industry; they’re still very much a minority, to be sure, but the numbers are growing.

Head on over to Bleeding Cool for the full stats and analysis!


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