So yesterday was Canada Day, our national holiday up here, and like 98% of the rest of Canada I took off Monday as well so as to have a four-day weekend. For me, this meant going up to my cottage; there’s no internet there, so I left in the hopes that nothing big or important would happen, Wonder Womanwise. That’s sort of my beat. And then, of course, DC announced that Meredith and David Finch were taking over Wonder Woman in November. I’m going to pretend that DC announced this news when I was out of town and off the grid on purpose, because it makes me feel important.
I’ve written about both of these creators before because Bleeding Cool had the scoop on this way back in February (kudos to Bleeding Cool), and I have some serious qualms about both. David Finch is known for big, hulking male characters, and not at all for his skill drawing women. In fact, he did a Justice League cover with a Wonder Woman so wonky and sexualized that it became a meme. When he was on Batman: The Dark Knight, he created a character who is essentially a Playboy bunny. His track record with female characters is not at all good.
Meredith Finch has, as far as I can tell, ONE published comic book story, a short about the Cowardly Lion in Zenescope’s Grimm Fairy Tales presents Tales from Oz #2. I’ve read it, and it’s not great. It’s not terrible, but it’s clunky, as a first story should be, really. Very few writers hit it out of the park with their first story. I’m a million percent for more female creators at DC, but I also think that they should have some experience. Giving a brand new writer a flagship title doesn’t strike me as a great idea, especially following a legendary writer like Brian Azzarello. There’s nothing in her miniscule body of work that merits this job, not because of any lack of ability on her part but because of an actual lack of stories from which to judge her work.
Since the announcement was made, Meredith and David have done a couple of interviews, none of which have assuaged my concerns. Meredith seems to have an appreciation for Wonder Woman, which is good to see. She also said that she’s looking to make the book more mainstream and work in the Superman romance more, which I’m not enthused about, but generally I thought she came off well.
I think she’s a beautiful, strong character. Really, from where I come from, and we’ve talked about this a lot, we want to make sure it’s a book that treats her as a human being first and foremost, but is also respectful of the fact that she represents something more. We want her to be a strong — I don’t want to say feminist, but a strong character. Beautiful, but strong.
And then people flipped out. And rightly so.
David has since clarified his feminist remark and apologized (albeit in a “sorry if you took it the wrong way” manner), but I’m still not sold on him. I in no way think that David Finch is anti-feminist or a misogynist or anything like that, but I think in this paragraph we’ve got a good example of someone who is certainly not engaged with feminism.
First, the interviewer didn’t ask anything about feminism. She asked what they were “really excited to touch on with this book.” Entirely unprompted, David specified that he didn’t want Wonder Woman to be feminist. Again, I don’t think he’s anti-feminist, but there are a lot of folks out there who think that “feminist” is a bad word, that feminists are extremists and man-haters and should generally be looked down upon and not associated with. This seems indicative of that mindset, of a wariness towards feminism. However, Wonder Woman is BLATANTLY feminist; she was created as the embodiment of female power and has been a feminist icon for decades. I wrote a whole book about it (Wonder Woman Unbound, available in stores and online now!).
Second, when he talks about the character he continually elevates her appearance above her abilities. “She’s a beautiful, strong character” and “beautiful, but strong” put her appearance first and her strength second, essentially ranking their importance. Is Wonder Woman beautiful? Absolutely. Should that be her primary descriptor? Not so much. I’ve not read every interview David’s ever done, but I’d be willing to bet a substantial amount of money that he’s never described Batman as handsome but strong. I’d bet even more money that he’s never mentioned Batman’s attractiveness at all.
So the artist taking over Wonder Woman thinks “feminist” is a bad word and approaches female characters first in terms of their appearance, while the writer has about ten pages of published comic book experience. This is not ideal. Now, as always with new creative teams, we should reserve judgment until we actually read the book. It could very well be good. But nothing I’ve heard or seen so far is making me feel optimistic about the series’ new direction.
DC also announced some new Bat-books, including Gotham Academy by Becky Cloonan and Karl Kerschl which sounds absolutely fantastic, but all I could think was “Why aren’t Cloonan and Kerschl taking over Wonder Woman?!” That would be a creative team I’d be ridiculously excited about. Missed opportunity there, DC. Keep them in mind when David Finch gets behind on the schedule, so like three issues in. I jest, but the dude can be slow; expect a lot of fill-in artists.