So some comics bros said some dumb things this weekend. That’s not a rare occurrence, really; you could devote a whole blog to such things if you were so inclined. But the ridiculousness this weekend centered on Wonder Woman, and some odd responses to her new costume. Neither Erik Larsen or J. Scott Campbell like the new outfit, which I can understand. I don’t like it either. It’s their reasons for why they don’t like it that made their comments so bizarre.
I’m tired of the big two placating a vocal minority at the expense of the rest of the paying audience by making more practical women outfits.
It’s weird enough when they layer more clothes on a character like Wonder Woman but Spider-Woman & Batgirl were already covered head-to-toe.
In response to the idea that these outfits are more practical, Larsen suggested that they aren’t actually practical at all, pointing to “the many athletes who participate in sports and wear considerably less.” What’s fascinating about this outrage and line of reasoning is that it seems to only apply to women. He’s not upset that male superheroes have been covered head-to-toe for 75 years now. No, he’s upset that women are getting covered up more lately, and moving from skin tight outfits to looser fitting clothes. Clearly he prefers his female characters more sexily clad.
But apparently a “vocal minority” is ruining all his fun. And by “vocal minority”, it seems that he means the flood of new women readers the comic book industry has seen over the past decade who tend to prefer female characters who look like people rather than sexed up embodiments of the male gaze. You know, all those folks who’ve responded enthusiastically to a lot of the new outfits and takes on female characters and whose excitement has led to some very solid sales and helped grow the industry. That pesky vocal minority, aka. the future of the industry that’s saving it from slowly dying from a stagnant audience.
I rarely comment about comic book industry matters on my personal FB page, but I gotta say, shoulder pads, especially big bulky metal ones NEVER look good on women. Everything about them is unfeminine and lacks style. No grace to this approach at all.
And on a side note, I find the continued knee-jerk reaction to internet message board critics demands to keep female heroines covered from head to toe in fabric an overreaction. She’s an Amazon Warrior, she’s NOT in the *Taliban!
First, to be fair to Campbell, the Taliban bit was a flippant, dumb joke. Nonetheless, he seems to think that there are scores of fans who want female heroes to be fully covered, and that’s just not the case. There are a lot of people who’d like female characters to be less exposed, myself among them, but there’s a whole lot of wiggle room between having everything on display and covering up a woman entirely.
Campbell went on to call Wonder Woman’s new costume “political correctness by committee” and then got irked at the angry feminists who were obviously taking everything he said the wrong way. What I find interesting is that my reaction to the costume, and the reaction of most feminist fans I know who want to see better representations of women in comics, has been generally negative. There hasn’t been much enthusiasm for it all, and those who speak positively about it seem to be coming from an angle of, “It’s nice that Wonder Woman has pants for a change, but the whole look isn’t great.” This isn’t Batgirl or Captain Marvel, whose new costumes got near universally rave reviews when they debuted (the “vocal minority” really loved those ones). The reviews for the new Wonder Woman are mixed at best, and more bad than good. I don’t know what group of people Campbell is referring to who loves this new outfit and wants to see all women fully covered.
Furthermore, the new costume is designed by David Finch, who loves to draw scantily clad women and has shown time and again that he really doesn’t care about feminism in the slightest. THAT is where the design is coming from. No fans were clamouring for it, we didn’t storm DC’s offices demanding Wonder Woman be covered. DC clearly wanted a new look for their June mini-relaunch, and this is what Finch came up with.
And the weird thing is, I agree with Larsen and Campbell that Wonder Woman’s new costume is ugly and cumbersome. I really don’t care for it. It doesn’t work for her at all, and I think that Wonder Woman is a character who doesn’t necessarily need to be fully covered. But there’s a big leap between “I don’t like this” and “It’s the fault of a vocal minority/message board critics/feminists.” Larsen and Campbell come off like they’re mad at women for making DC and Marvel take all the boobs away, which is a) ridiculous, and b) not the case at all. Sorry comics aren’t going to be as exploitive of women as they used to be, guys. Get used to it, because the “vocal minority” isn’t going away.