Women In Comics Statistics: DC And Marvel, December 2014 In Review

March 2, 2015

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My latest “Gendercrunching” column is up at Bleeding Cool, and neither Big Two publisher had a great month. This poor December capped off a generally weak year where both publishers consistently posted overall percentages for female creators far below their past highs.

DC had the higher overall percentage of female creators in December, hitting double digits for the first time in a long time with 10%. Marvel tumbled down to 8.9% overall, a surprisingly weak showing for them.

We also take a look at the year in review. Both Big Two publishers are trending downward overall, but DC has a few bright spots on the creative side of things with writers and artists trending upward over the course of the year and especially over the past few months. Editorial is the real issue for both publishers, with decimated assistant editor ranks dragging down the overall average of female creators considerably.

Head on over to Bleeding Cool for all of the stats fun!

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #26 Review: “Girls’ Day Out” by Cecil Castellucci, Chris Sprouse, and Karl Story

February 26, 2015

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Wonder Woman and Lois Lane are two of my favourite characters ever, so I was very excited to dive into this week’s digital issue of Sensation Comics. Their team ups over the decades have been hit and miss. Phil Jimenez had a good Lois story during his Wonder Woman run and George Perez brought her to Paradise Island for a fun arc, but petty jealousy and fighting over Superman have been the norm for a lot of their interactions dating back to the 1960s. There have been a lot of rough moments, for sure, and I had high hopes for a more modern, enjoyable team up here.

What we got in the first part of “Girls’ Day Out” was fine, if unremarkable. There was no cringe-inducing jealousy, nor did they come to blows battling for Superman’s affection, so that puts it way ahead of several of Wonder Woman and Lois’ past meetings. However, the whole issue was a little bit bland, largely owing to a poor use of the digital format.

It opened well enough, with Cecil Castellucci capturing what everyone should feel when they’re sitting across from Lois Lane: Fear. Wonder Woman thinks to herself, “I have faced gods in battle… yet somehow this seems harder.” It’s always a good call to highlight Lois’ reporting prowess. But the interview that follows is a puff piece for some undisclosed reason, with Lois asking if there are cat fights on Paradise Island and which superhero is hottest.

The scene is illustrated with a lot of repetitive art. Over multiple pages, Chris Sprouse and Karl Story use the same image of Wonder Woman over and over. It seems like this repetition of Wonder Woman’s frustrated face is supposed to be funny, but seven panels of basically the same piece of art over three pages instead comes off as lazy and flat. Lois changes, at least, but it’s Wonder Woman’s comic book. She should have more than one expression.

Things pick up a bit after this scene when a giant robot attacks them. Nothing breaks up the doldrums like a giant robot hand smashing through the window. Wonder Woman immediately takes on the robot, and Lois runs after her to cover the story and even starts fighting the robot herself. After the robot is defeated, weird creatures that were incubating inside start pouring out, setting up another battle in a cliffhanger ending. The robot fight is a fun idea, and I enjoy that Lois got involved, but the entire scene flies by. The fight takes up 15 pages, and there are only 20 different panels across this span. Furthermore, there are only 16 pieces of dialogue, either spoken or thought, over the same span. It’s a lot of full page spreads, and the sparse art is not balanced out by dialogue at all. Of course, not every page needs to have a bunch of panels or scads of word balloons, but a stark lack of both means that you can read the issue in about a minute and a half. You’re not getting much story at all.

The art itself is fine, but far from the best that I’ve seen from Sprouse or Story. Plus, with so few panels and so many full page spreads, you expect the art to be epic and justify taking up so much space, but it’s all just okay. It’s not bad art by any means. It’s just underwhelming for the amount of space that’s dedicated to it. Even the colouring is a little flat and uninspired, and Jordie Bellaire coloured the book! She’s one of the best colourists in the world, and the book still feels fairly bland.

Overall, Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #26 is an average, somewhat uninspired story that fails to utilize the massive fun potential of a Wonder Woman and Lois Lane team up. Part two is coming up next week, and hopefully they’ll stick the landing and give us a more exciting tale that plays to both women’s strengths. If it’s 20 full page spreads of them busting up the creatures that spilled out of the robot, I’m not going to be impressed. The print version of this story will be out on April 15.

Women At Marvel Comics Watch – May 2015 Solicits: 13 Different Female Creators On 17 Different Comics

February 25, 2015

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Two months after their “Women of Marvel” variant cover line catapulted them to 20 different female creators for the first time in ages, Marvel remains firmly in the low teens yet again. Several other comics publishers are making big strides for female representation, but Marvel is lagging behind. While their May solicits show some growth from April, it’s not a lot. Let’s take a look at who’s doing what at Marvel in May 2015:

  • Amanda Conner: Secret Wars #1 (variant cover)
  • Ariela Kristantina: Wolverines #19 (interior art)
  • Erica Henderson: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (art and cover)
  • G. Willow Wilson: A-Force #1 (co-writer), Ms. Marvel #15 (writer)
  • Kathryn Immonen: Operation: S.I.N. #5 (writer)
  • Kelly Sue DeConnick: Captain Marvel #15 (writer)
  • Marguerite Bennett: A-Force #1 (co-writer), Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #6 (co-writer), James Patterson’s Max Ride: First Flight #3 (writer)
  • Nicole Virella: Return of the Living Deadpool #4 (interior art)
  • Prudence Shen: Secret Wars Journal #1 (writer)
  • Robin Furth: Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three – House of Cards #3 (co-writer)
  • Stacey Lee: Amazing Spider-Man #18 (variant cover), Silk #4 (interior art)
  • Stephanie Hans: A-Force #1 (variant cover), Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #6 (art and cover), Storm #11 (cover)
  • Yasmine Putri: Amazing Spider-Man #18.1 (variant cover), Secret Wars #2 (variant cover)

All together, there are 13 different female creators scheduled for 17 different books in May, slight increases from April’s 11 and 16. There are some new names in mix, however. Both Prudence Shen and Yasmine Putri are making their debut at Marvel.

May is also a big month because A-Force debuts. Not only is it written by G. Willow Wilson and Marguerite Bennett, the lineup in all women characters, and it sounds fantastic. The cover shows pretty much every female Avenger ever, so this book should be a blast. A few other new titles boast female characters as well; Medusa is in Inhumans: Attilan Rising (they’re really trying to make the Inhumans happen, aren’t they?), Kate Bishop is on the cover of Secret Wars Journal #1, and Inferno seems to be about Magik, though they don’t mention her by name.

While the numbers aren’t growing substantially, there does seem to be a slight shift in what women are doing at Marvel over the year thus far. There’s a lot more interior art and writing than we usually see. Not that covers aren’t great, but it’s a rather isolated and rarely long term gig. The slow growth of women with regular jobs inside the comics is a definite positive step for Marvel.

Nonetheless, they still lag far behind. DC has more than double the female representation in May, and several publishers, many of them far smaller than Marvel, easily have more than 13 female creators scheduled for their May books. A-Force is great, and it’s wonderful to see Marvel continuing to focus on female characters, but their progress with female creators is painfully slow. There are a lot of them out there and Marvel have hired a great many of them sporadically over the past few years. I don’t understand why it’s so difficult to hire more of them now.

Wonder Woman Movie To Start Shooting In The Fall?

February 24, 2015

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Pretty much every entertainment news site is reporting that Wonder Woman, helmed by Michelle MacLaren and starring Gal Gadot, will begin filming in the fall. All of these sites trace back to Deadline, who had the exclusive announcement that Gadot is co-starring in Keeping Up With The Joneses, directed by Greg Mottola and starring Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher, and Jon Hamm. That’s actually a great lineup; I may have to check this movie out. But buried at the end of this announcement was this:

Gadot will next be seen in Lionsgate’s Criminal in August and in September the movie Triple Nine. She plays Wonder Woman in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice and then films Wonder Woman in the fall.

This confused a lot of folks because it’s been reported elsewhere that Wonder Woman has yet to be receive an official greenlight from Warner Bros. The details here are sparse, so it’s tough to know what’s going on for sure, particularly since Warner Bros. or Gadot hasn’t commented on this news yet. It might be a scoop, but it might just be a sort of placeholder statement because she’s planning to film Wonder Woman at some point in the future.

As a sidenote, everyone seems to be assuming it’s the fall of this year, but the wording of the statement could suggest a different timeline. Dawn of Justice comes out in 2016, so if she stars in that and “then films Wonder Woman in the fall”, that might make it the fall of 2016.

Also, a lot of entertainment sites are parroting the rumour that there will be a Wonder Woman trilogy, with the first one set in the 1920s, the second during World War Two, and the third in the present day. The Deadline article doesn’t mention this at all, and this still has yet to be confirmed by Warner Bros. Furthermore, the rumour predates the hiring of Michelle MacLaren as a director and Jason Fuchs as the film’s writer. Plus, it’s a god awful idea and they really shouldn’t do it. Anyway, this remains just a rumour at this point.

So we’ve got some news, but it might be overblown news. In general, it’s always a good idea to just wait for official word on things from the studio, and this is doubly true for Wonder Woman. There have been several projects in development for ages that have sparked tons of rumours and breaking news and nothing concrete ever came of any of them. I’ll believe that Warner Bros. is actually making a Wonder Woman movie when they say they’re actually making a Wonder Woman movie and it’s not just in development. If being a Wonder Woman fan has taught me anything, it’s to take news from Hollywood with a massive grain of salt.

Women At DC Comics Watch – May 2015 Solicits: 26 Different Female Creators On 25 Different Books

February 23, 2015

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As the second and final month of “Convergence” wraps up, DC Comics’ female representation ticks down somewhat from the numbers in the April solicits to their second lowest total of the year thus far. Nonetheless, it’s still far better than where they were at any point in 2014, or several years previous. Let’s take a look at who’s doing what at DC Comics in May 2015:

  • Alisa Kwitney: Convergence: Batgirl #2 (writer)
  • Amanda Conner: Convergence #6 (variant cover), Convergence #7 (variant cover), Convergence: Action Comics #2 (cover)
  • Babs Tarr: Convergence: Superboy #2 (cover)
  • Becky Cloonan: Convergence: Aquaman #2 (cover), The Kitchen #7 (cover)
  • Caitlin Kittredge: Coffin Hill #18 (writer)
  • Celia Calle: The Names #9 (cover)
  • Chrissie Zullo: Fables: The Wolf Amoung Us #5 (cover)
  • Christy Marx: Convergence: Green Arrow #2 (writer)
  • Claire Wendling: Convergence: Catwoman #2 (cover)
  • Emanuela Lupacchino: Convergence: Titans #2 (cover)
  • Gail Simone: Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle #2 (writer)
  • Jan Duursema: Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle #2 (penciller)
  • Jill Thompson: Convergence #8 (variant cover), Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle #2 (cover)
  • June Brigman: Convergence: Superman – The Man of Steel #2 (penciller)
  • Kai Wu: The Flash Season Zero #8 (co-writer)
  • Keto Shimizu: Arrow Season 2.5 #8 (writer)
  • Lauren Ceto: The Flash Season Zero #8 (co-writer)
  • Louise Simonson: Convergence: Superman – The Man of Steel #2 (writer)
  • Marguerite Sauvage: Hinterkind #18 (cover)
  • Marley Zarcone: Effigy #5 (interior art)
  • Ming Doyle: The Kitchen #7 (interior art)
  • Nicola Scott: Convergence: New Teen Titans #2 (art and cover)
  • Pia Guerra: Convergence: Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #2 (cover)
  • Sandra Hope: Convergence #5 (inker)
  • Sara Ryan: Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #10 (writer)
  • Yishan Li: Convergence: Blue Beetle #2 (interior art)

All together, there are 26 different female creators scheduled to work on 25 different books, a drop from April’s 32 female creators but the same number of series. A big part of this drop was that the Vertigo quarterly special pumped up the April numbers, so without it the May numbers fell off a bit. Vertigo’s also got Strange Sports Stories #3 coming out, and while the second issue had two female creators listed last month, this month the only credits are “Various.” So things are about the same for the regular books.

Of course, all of these regular books will be gone next month, when “Convergence” ends and DC returns to its regular titles. June should be very interesting, seeing as DC is debuting 24 new series with some new creators in the mix. While several of the women who worked on “Convergence” probably won’t be back at DC in June, it looks like there are a lot of ladies set to take their place. I’m curious to see if DC can top their record total yet again; that would certainly be a good way to kick off a bold new direction for the publisher.

There’s not much new for female characters in May, seeing as it’s just more “Convergence”. The crossovers are starting to expand, though, so female characters from random universes will probably be showing up haphazardly across the line. I counted 5 or 6 different Wonder Womans in various titles, and she’s only headlining one book.

Overall, May isn’t a record breaking month for DC, but it’s a solid showing. I remain pleased to see so many women involved in an event like this; past events at DC, like their regular September stunts, usually result in a big drop for female creators, so it’s great that there are so many in the mix for “Convergence”. June’s going to be a whole new ball game, and I’m cautiously optimistic that DC will be up in the 30s again to launch their new direction.

Wonder Woman’s May 2015 Covers and Solicits

February 20, 2015

May is the second half of DC’s two month “Convergence” event, so Wonder Woman’s solicits remain a little wonky. Instead of the usual Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman, she’s starring in only one “Convergence” title, though she appears to be guest starring in a bunch as well. First up, let’s take a look at Convergence: Wonder Woman #2:

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CONVERGENCE: WONDER WOMAN #2
Written by LARRY HAMA
Art by AARON LOPRESTI and MATT BANNING
Cover by JOSHUA MIDDLETON
Variant cover designed by CHIP KIDD
On sale MAY 20 • 40 pg, FC, 2 of 2, $3.99 US • RATED T
STARRING HEROES FROM CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS! Diana Prince gets blood on her jumpsuit as she takes on vampire versions of The Joker and the rest of the Red Rain ghouls!

When we looked at last month’s solicits, I was very excited to have two issues of Joshua Middleton drawing Wonder Woman because I quite like his work. Turns out, he’s only doing the first one and Aaron Lopresti is drawing this issue. It’s not a bad change; I quite like Lopresti. But I’ve seen him do Wonder Woman before and I was really looking forward to seeing Joshua Middleton do it up.

I’ll be honest, though, the cover doesn’t look great and I’m not super curious about the story either. Wonder Woman vs. weird vampire versions of the DCU could be fun, but this looks all dark and moody and serious. Hopefully the book turns out to be entertaining and not just a violent bloodbath.

Versions of Wonder Woman are also popping up in several other “Convergence” titles. They are:

  • Flashpoint Wonder Woman in Convergence: Speed Force #2.
  • Red Son Wonder Woman in Convergence: Action Comics #2.
  • Kingdom Come Wonder Woman in Convergence: Justice League International #2.
  • DC One Million Wonder Woman in Convergence: Crime Syndicate #2.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if a few other versions pop up elsewhere across the line.

Also in May we’ve got Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #10:

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SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN #10
Written by SARA RYAN and AARON LOPRESTI
Art by CHRISTIAN DUCE and AARON LOPRESTI
Cover by MICHAEL ZULLI
On sale MAY 20 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
Very few people know how to reach Wonder Woman directly, and when Clarice Anthony reaches out, Diana can’t deny her old friend the help she needs. But when that means going undercover as a pop-country starlet’s trainer, the world isn’t sure what to make of this new “VIP” persona! Then, the dragons of Sostratos became “Casualties of War” in a battle between Amazons and humans. Now, the sole survivor is taking his revenge on Diana!

Oof, that cover is rough stuff. But it’s a big month for Aaron Lopresti! He’s writing and drawing a story here, along with another by Sara Ryan and Christian Duce. The solicit says something about dragons, so you know I’m on board. I love a good dragon.

Look for all of these comics in May at comic shops everywhere!

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #25 Review: “Sabotage is in the Stars” by Heather Nuhfer and Ryan Benjamin

February 19, 2015

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Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #25 is easily the best Wonder Woman comic I’ve read this week, though it’s a fairly low bar. Both Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman put out bad issues yesterday, so today’s Sensation Comics felt like a breath of fresh air. It’s not the strongest outing that the series has produced, but it was a fun read and an excellent palette cleanser after a rough Wednesday for our favourite Amazon.

The story begins with Wonder Woman saving an Indian space exploration laboratory from a meteorite strike and learning that LexCorp was behind the attack. Wonder Woman spends the rest of the issue preventing LexCorp from derailing the launch of India’s newest space mission. She stops Luthor’s sabotage, while the shuttle’s female pilot safely executes the mission despite Luthor’s attempts at interference.

It’s a fun story, though it feels somewhat overstuffed. One digital issue isn’t a lot of space, and while Heather Nuhfer puts in a lot of good moments, there are also a lot of sharp jumps and confusing transitions that make it a bit of a jarring read. Space is at a premium in such a short book, and there are a few odd choices that use up a lot of valuable real estate. For example, dedicating two pages to Lex sabotaging the shuttle is more than necessary, and some of that space could have been perhaps better used finessing what is an awkward transition into LexCorp robots attacking Wonder Woman’s invisible jet. You’ve got to maximize the space available.

At the same time, though, the book’s best sequence is the four opening pages dedicated to Wonder Woman destroying the meteorite that’s heading towards the laboratory. It’s a fantastic showcase of Wonder Woman’s strength, and Wonder Woman’s annoyed question, “Why can’t this ever happen over an empty field?” is a particularly nice touch. This scene doesn’t maximize the book’s limited real estate at all; it’s eight panels spread out over the four pages. But it works like gangbusters. It’s a dynamite way to open a comic book, and it shows that sometimes you’ve just got to explore the space a bit, even though the book feels a bit cramped from then on.

The meteorite sequence’s effectiveness is largely due to artist Ryan Benjamin, who does a stellar job with this opening scene. The issue’s first page shows Wonder Woman flying at the reader fist first, teeth gritted, fixing to smash apart the meteorite, and it’s absolutely gorgeous, but my favourite bit of the sequence is more subtle. Wonder Woman is trying to destroy the last bit of the meteor that’s getting dangerously close to the lab, and she finally gets a hold on it:

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I love the focus on her eye that shows she’s seeing the full situation and has it handled; there’s no panic or fear, just a look back to make sure she’s still got the space she needs. And the blur with the sparks to show the fieriness and speed of the meteorite look so cool, and serve as a great frame for her laser focused eye. All of the choices in the this panel work beautifully.

Benjamin’s art throughout the rest of the book is strong as well. He draws a great Wonder Woman and a sinister Lex Luthor, and does a good job with the evil robots and their space shenanigans. Benjamin colours the book as well, and makes a few odd choices. The overall tone is perhaps a bit too yellow for my taste. It’s in a mid-range between a bold stylistic choice and normal colouring, and I think he’d have been better served by either colouring the book realistically or going full on stylistic. However, the colouring on that spectacular opening sequence is fantastic, especially the way Benjamin communicates the heat and speed of it all.

Overall, this week’s Sensation Comics was a fun outing with some good moments. It was a bit rushed, but so it goes with digital oneshots. It’s just not a lot of space. The print version of this story hits stores on March 18 in what should be a great issue all around, so definitely keep your eyes peeled for that.


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