Last weekend was Fan Expo in Toronto, and Superman/Wonder Woman came up at the DC All Access panel with the book’s artist Tony S. Daniel and editor Brian Cunningham. The Mary Sue has an excellent recap of what was said, with responses from those involved, that you should definitely go read, but the key quote was this, from Daniel:
I mentioned maybe, can we create a book that targets a little bit more of the female readership that’s been growing. And maybe a book that has a little bit of romance in it, a little big of sex appeal, you know, something that would, for lack of a better example, that hits on the Twilight audience.
Things went downhill from there. When an audience question followed up on the Twilight comment, Daniel promised Superman butt shots to keep the objectification of the characters evened out. The answers ended with a lot of assurances that the book would be awesome, without any specific reasons to back up that claim.
Now, we all say dumb things sometimes. We’ll be trying to make a perfectly reasonable point but we’ll screw up how we phrase it, focus on the wrong thing, and the message gets lost. The good news here is that Tony S. Daniel is interested in getting a female audience and talked to the DC higher-ups about it. That’s definitely a positive thing.
The bad news is that the only frame of reference he could come up with was Twilight, and that his answer to the perpetual objectification of female characters isn’t to stop objectifying them but to do so to the men as well. Daniel seems like a nice guy, and I’m sure he has good intentions, but I’m not sure that he gets it. Not that I’m an expert on what women want out of a comic book either, but from the response I saw on Twitter this weekend they definitely don’t want a Twilight inspired series, and they’ve been rather unimpressed with this Wonder Woman/Superman relationship from the very beginning. Reducing a powerful female character to a secondary role as someone’s girlfriend so you can put out a romance-laced comic book to reach a female audience seems to be a TERRIBLE plan for reaching a female audience. Everyone wants another Wonder Woman comic, but I’ve yet to come across anyone who wants it like this.
So yeah, we all say dumb things. It just seems that the people behind Superman/Wonder Woman have been saying dumb things almost exclusively since the book was announced. Either they’re awful at PR and communicating their vision of what is actually going to be a strong and interesting comic book, or they’re making a really bad book. I’m hoping it’s the former, but we’ve got to wait until October 9th to find out. At some point before then, I’d really love to do a post about how one of the creator’s comments is cool and insightful and is giving me a spark of hope for the series, so get on that, Charles Soule and Tony S. Daniel! Because everything I’ve heard so far is just bringing me down.