Women & NB Creators at DC Comics Watch, October 2017 Solicits: 25 Creators on 24 Books

August 18, 2017

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DC’s female and non-binary creator representation has been drifting downward over the last few months, sliding a bit after a relatively strong spring, and with the October solicits, DC’s numbers are set to fall to their lowest level since last March. Things are pretty quiet at DC this fall; there are a few events and a couple of new books, but not enough to make any huge changes to the line. Yet the numbers appear to be in decline. Let’s take a look at who’s doing what at DC this October:

  • Amanda Conner: Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica #1 (cover), Harley Quinn #29 (co-writer, cover), Harley Quinn #30 (co-writer, cover)
  • Bilquis Evely: DC House of Horror #1 (interior art)
  • Diana Conesa: Nightwing #30 (interior art), Nightwing #31 (interior art)
  • Emanuela Lupacchino: Bombshells United #4 (cover), Dastardly and Muttley #2 (variant cover), Wonder Woman #33 (interior art)
  • Gail Simone: Wonder Woman/Conan #2 (writer)
  • Heather Nuhfer: Teen Titans Go! #24 (co-writer)
  • Hope Larson: Batgirl #16 (writer)
  • Jenny Frison: Gotham City Garage #2 (cover), Wonder Woman #32 (variant cover), Wonder Woman #33 (variant cover)
  • Jill Thompson: Future Quest Presents #3 (variant cover)
  • Jody Houser: Mother Panic #12 (writer)
  • Joelle Jones: Batman #33 (interior art, cover), Mother Panic #12 (variant cover)
  • Julie Benson: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #15 (co-writer)
  • K. Perkins: Superwoman #15 (writer)
  • Kamome Shirahama: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #15 (variant cover)
  • Laura Braga: Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica #1 (interior art)
  • Lynne Yoshii: Gotham City Garage #2 (interior art)
  • Marguerite Bennett: Batwoman #8 (writer), Bombshells United #3 (writer), Bombshells United #4 (writer)
  • Marguerite Sauvage: Bombshells United #4 (interior art)
  • Mary Sangiovanni: DC House of Horror #1 (co-writer)
  • Michelle Delecki: Deathstroke #24 (variant cover)
  • Mirka Andolfo: Teen Titans #13 (interior art)
  • Rachel Dodson: Bombshells United #3 (cover)
  • Shawna Benson: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #15 (co-writer)
  • Siya Oum: Bombshells United #3 (interior art)
  • Yasmine Putri: The Hellblazer #15 (cover)

All together, there are 25 female creators set to work on 24 books at DC this October, 2 fewer than in September though they’re working on 3 more books (to the best of my knowledge, there are no non-binary creators in the mix this month). While 2 fewer creators isn’t a massive change, 3 of the past 4 months have featured a drop of 2 or more, and it’s starting to add up. As mentioned at the beginning, not a whole lot has changed at DC over the past little while, so this is just an organic drift downward. A few books got cancelled, a few new books began, and that’s about it. There wasn’t another relaunch cycle or any substantial creator upheaval. So this decline is just a gradual decrease caused by small changes here and there, and little has been done to remedy this drop.

We do have a few new female creators in the mix, though, which is always nice to see. Diana Conesa is going to be working on interior art for Nightwing, and I think she’s making her DC debut there. We’ve also got Lynne Yoshii, again on interior art, on the new Gotham City Garage, which we’ll discuss momentarily. Another new book, the anthology oneshot DC House of Horror, features a story by writer Mary Sangiovanni.

The oneshot is one of just a handful of new books at DC in October, and it’s got a few female creators in the mix as well as some stories starring female characters, including unique choices like Martha Kent and an Amazon warrior. DC’s Metal event continues, still with no female creators in the mix and seemingly few female characters, but we’ve got two new books with female leads. The aforementioned Gotham City Garage is based on DC’s statue line of their heroines as bikers, and features a reimagined DC universe centered on biker ladies. I feel like this could go either way, really. It’s reminiscent of DC Comics Bombshells, another comic line based on popular merchandise, but while Marguerite Bennett helmed that book and turned it into a queer feminist masterpiece, I’m not terribly familiar with the two dudes writing this one. Fingers crossed it’s similarly cool. We’ve also got an unusual team up with Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica, a crossover with Archie that introduces these two famous duos for the first time. A lot of creators from the regular Harley Quinn book are on board, so expect a similar tone and sensibility.

All together, there are some new names and a couple of potentially fun titles on the horizon for October, but overall the numbers keep falling. If DC continues at this pace, they’ll be back in the teens again before long, and it’s getting to the point where it feels like some intentional effort needs to be made internally to buoy their dragging representation.

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Wonder Woman #28 Review: Assassination Rehabilitation

August 16, 2017

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“Heart of the Amazon” continues this week with Shea Fontana still writing but a new artist on board. Mirka Andolfo did the first two, and it looks like the rest of the arc will be by David Messina. It’s an interesting switch; Andolfo and Messina’s styles aren’t exactly similar, but the swap may capture a change in tone, intentionally or inadvertently. Andolfo’s art is bright and exuberant, which fit well with the wedding fun of the first issue and the further establishment of Diana and Etta’s friendship. Messina’s art is more grounded and realistic to a degree, which pairs well as the story continues to take a darker turn with assassins targeting Diana. We’ll get into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

If you haven’t read this issue yet, look away!

I am about to tell you most of what happens in it!

Let’s start with the cover again, because while the comics themselves have been quite enjoyable throughout this arc thus far, the covers have been uniformly bland. With the first two issues especially, the run of the mill covers failed to communicate the unique spark of the art inside in any real way. For this issue, the cover just feels paint by numbers. Wonder Woman deflecting bullets is always fun, but you could put this cover on any issue of Wonder Woman and it would be generally applicable. It’s a very generic image, and this isn’t a generic story. Nothing about Wonder Woman has been generic since the “Rebirth” relaunch, and the covers for the first 25 issues reflected that well. The covers since have failed to do so, and it just feels like poor advertising on the part of DC.

The story inside is fun, though. Etta’s recovered well from the bombing at the end of the first issue of the arc, and is able to go home from the hospital, whereupon she and Diana are again attacked by an assassin. These gals can’t catch a break! The action is nicely done, with a focus on Wonder Woman’s speed and reaction time throughout, even though it’s Etta who saves the day in the end. This is one of those big fight issues that can read a little quick because it’s got more punching than dialogue, but that’s what superhero comics are for. It can’t be all lengthy discussions and introspection and such. It’s good to have a full on brawl every now and again.

Beyond all of the action, though, Diana and Etta’s friendship shines through, and it seems to be the major focus of this arc. It was great to see Etta get to save the day, and have her military prowess highlighted throughout the issue. From a well timed and well aimed shot to Diana correcting a nurse to inform her that Etta should be addressed as “Commander” and not “Ms.,” Etta’s credentials are underscored and proven over the course of this outing.

The best moment comes near the beginning, though, when Diana signs Etta out of the hospital to be released into her care. Diana takes her signature very seriously, and is determined to care for Etta for the six weeks of her leave because she has signed an oath to do so. It’s all very cute and fun, and makes for an amusing scene with Diana doing the dishes because she is fully committed to taking care of Etta on every single level. Friendship plus Diana taking simple things very seriously is a delightful combination.

David Messina does a solid job with the art, especially once the fighting kicks off, and he draws a tough, powerful Wonder Woman. There’s a very cool quality to his work where he’s not super heavy on his inks that I quite enjoy. Rather than having his blacks be completely solid, he colors them in and the texture of whatever coloring method he’s using remains. It almost looks like markers or some such, and you can see gradients within his blacks in a lot of the panels. It’s a fun touch that captures how inked artwork actually looks rather than the processed sheen it tends to take on once it gets scanned, cleaned up, and published.

I did miss Mirka Andolfo a bit, though. This is no knock on Messina, who did nice work. I just really love the vitality that Andolfo brings to her characters. And the fashion! Diana and Etta were dressed okay in this issue, but Andolfo would have had them in something more rad. Also, Messina straightened Etta’s hair, and I missed the curly bounce that Andolfo gave her. I was glad to see Romulo Fajardo Jr. still in the mix, though! His coloring was strong as always, though I did notice a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes; elements of Wonder Woman’s belt were miscolored, while Etta was a few shades too light in one panel. Nonetheless, his work was excellent elsewhere and his rich, textured tones paired especially well with Messina’s inking style.

All together, things are ramping up with this assassination plot and I’m excited to see where it goes. Someone is after Wonder Woman and wants her body, presumably for some sort of bizarre experimentation, and given that last page reveal, things are going to be difficult in the next issue as well with even more folks after her. Kudos to Fontana for including so many female assassins in the mix, too. I’m guessing that we’ll find out who the big bad is by the end of the next outing, since we’ve only got two installments left. And Apollo’s intervention to warn her about the attack has me thinking it might be a villain with some mythological associations. I’m looking forward to learning more in two weeks’ time!

The Many Lives of Catwoman Moments, Week Fourteen: Fierce, Friendly, and Flirtatious

August 14, 2017

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My new book The Many Lives of Catwoman: The Felonious History of a Feline Fatale is available in bookstores and online now in a variety of formats, and I’ve been celebrating its release by looking at key moments from Catwoman’s history over on Tumblr. We reached the end of our nearly one hundred moments a week and a half ago, but I’ve been out of town so we’re getting to our recap a little late. The feature went out on a high note, though, with several fun panels and stills from Catwoman’s many incarnations across an array of media that offered interesting peeks at what is covered inside the book.

The final Catwoman moments included:

And finally, my favourite Catwoman moment of the week and the final Catwoman moment of this enjoyable run was Eartha Kitt as Catwoman on the classic Batman television show in 1967. Kitt wasn’t a huge part of the series; she came in during the third season, and only appeared in three episodes, while Julie Newmar showed up as Catwoman eleven times in the season previous. Kitt made a big splash, though. She was fierce and commanding, taking control of every scene in which she appeared. It was a bold, powerful take on Catwoman that served as a stark contrast to Newmar’s more languid approach to the character. Kitt’s casting was also remarkable because of her ethnicity. Women of colour playing major roles was rare in 1967, and Kitt not only took over a big part established by a white woman, she proceeded to make the character even more ferocious and cunning. Despite her brief tenure, Kitt left her mark on Catwoman and has been permanently associated with the character ever since.

You can catch up on all of the previous Catwoman moments here, and follow my Tumblr for more comics fun; the Catwoman posts have wrapped up, but I post and repost a lot of rad superhero material. And, of course, The Many Lives of Catwoman is available now in various formats! You can pick it up online or at your favourite local retailer!

Women in Comics Statistics, DC and Marvel: May 2017 in Review

August 2, 2017

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My latest “Gendercrunching” column went up last week over at Bleeding Cool, and it featured the usual DC and Marvel fun plus visits to Dynamite, Boom, Titan, and Valiant.

The Big Two continued to struggle with female creator representation, and posted their lowest combined overall percentage of female creators over the past year in May. DC ticked up slightly to 15.1% female creators, a gain that still left them with their second lowest total over the past twelve months. Marvel dropped to 15.9% female creators, their lowest total in six months.

We also concluded our biannual tour of other direct market publishers, and it was a mixed bag. Dynamite slid down to a paltry 6.2% female creators, Boom remained a bastion of female representation at 39%, Titan ticked down slightly to a relatively strong 20.4%, and Valiant rose to 14.3%. All told, our larger tour over the past two months featured more losses than gains, and combined with low showings at DC and Marvel, female creator representation across the board in the direct market appears to have taken a bit of a dip as of late.

Head on over the Bleeding Cool for the full stats and all of the “Gendercrunching” fun!

The Many Lives of Catwoman Moments, Week Thirteen: Guns, Grit, and Goofiness

July 31, 2017

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Now that my new book The Many Lives of Catwoman: The Felonious History of a Feline Fatale is available in bookstores and online in a variety of formats, I’m winding down the key moments from Catwoman’s history that I’ve been posting on Tumblr. We’ll end up with almost a hundred overall, a random assortment of comic book panels and film stills that run the gamut of her numerous incarnations across all kinds of media. Some are significant, some are silly, and all of them highlight different, compelling aspects of Catwoman and offer a glimpse inside the book.

We’ve only got a few posts left, and the moments we looked at this week included:

And finally, my favourite Catwoman moment of the week comes from Batman #345 in March 1982, written by Bruce Jones with art by Trevor Von Eeden and Pablo Marcus. After Selina Kyle’s break up with Bruce Wayne, Catwoman got her own feature in Batman but it was a bizarrely dark affair. The story began with the panels above, a dream in which she married Bruce but turned into a cat monster and was killed in a hail of gunfire by Bruce’s family and friends. It showed that Catwoman felt guilty for the collapse of their relationship, and that she saw herself as a dangerous creature. The rest of the feature followed this theme, with Catwoman involved in gruesome stories in which women were injured and killed in retributive ways. One even had a murdered stripper who looked just like her. It was dark and twisted and the underlying message of the stories, intentional or not, was that Catwoman deserved punishment for breaking Bruce’s heart. The feature was bleak, and ended after six issues.

You can catch up on all of the previous Catwoman moments here, and follow along for more fun as we enter the last week! The Many Lives of Catwoman is also available in an assortment of formats, including print, ebook, and audio, so check it out and learn all about this great character!

Women & NB Creators at Marvel Comics Watch, September 2017 Solicits: 28 Creators on 26 Books

July 27, 2017

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After setting record highs in March, Marvel’s number of female and non-binary creators has been comparatively poor ever since. The September solicits show a slight improvement in representation, a jump that still leaves Marvel well off of their past highs but nonetheless marks their highest total in some time. Let’s take a look at who’s doing what at Marvel in September 2017:

  • Amy Reeder: Marvel Legacy #1 (variant cover)
  • Annapaola Martello: Venomverse: War Stories #1 (interior art)
  • Annie Wu: America #7 (interior art)
  • Becky Cloonan: The Punisher #16 (writer)
  • Christina Strain: Generation X #6 (writer)
  • Elizabeth Torque: Venomverse #1 (variant cover), Venomverse #2 (variant cover), Venomverse #3 (variant cover), Venomverse #4 (variant cover)
  • Erica Henderson: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #24 (interior art, cover)
  • G. Willow Wilson: Generations: Captain Marvel & Ms. Marvel #1 (writer), Ms. Marvel #22 (writer)
  • Gabby Rivera: America #7 (writer)
  • Gurihiru: Gwenpool, the Unbelievable #20 (interior art, cover)
  • Jen Bartel: America #7 (interior art)
  • Jenny Frison: Black Panther #18 (variant cover)
  • Jody Houser: Star Wars: Rogue One Adaptation #6 (writer)
  • Joyce Chin: Black Panther #18 (variant cover)
  • Kamome Shirahama: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #12 (cover)
  • Kelly Thompson: Hawkeye #10 (writer), Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Captain Phasma #1 (writer), Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Captain Phasma #2 (writer)
  • Magdalene Visaggio: Venomverse: War Stories #1 (co-writer)
  • Margaret Stohl: Generations: Captain Marvel & Captain Mar-Vell #1 (writer), The Mighty Captain Marvel #9 (writer)
  • Mariko Tamaki: Hulk #10 (writer)
  • Meghan Hetrick: The Mighty Captain Marvel #9 (cover)
  • Ming Doyle: Spider-Man #20 (variant cover)
  • Natacha Bustos: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #23 (interior art, cover)
  • Paulina Ganucheau: Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Captain Phasma #1 (variant cover)
  • Rainbow Rowell: Runaways #1 (writer)
  • Sara Pichelli: Spider-Men II #3 (interior art, cover)
  • Tana Ford: Venomverse: War Stories #1 (interior art)
  • Yusaku Komiyama: Zombies Assemble 2 #2 (writer, interior art)

All together, there are 28 different female/non-binary creators set to work on 26 different comics at Marvel in September, 3 more creators and 2 more books than in August. It’s not a huge jump, but given that Marvel has been languishing in the low to mid-20s for the past six months, the numbers increasing in any way is a positive sign. The longevity of these gains may be questionable, though; these numbers are buoyed by a lot of one shot issues and onetime gigs like variant covers which likely won’t be around next month.

A quick note on terminology: DC had a non-binary creator in September so we changed the title of the feature to be more inclusive. We’re doing the same with the Marvel watch. To the best of my knowledge, there aren’t any non-binary creators at Marvel this month, but broadening the scope shows that they will be counted when they do appear in the solicits.

While we’ve got a lot of returning favourites scheduled for September, including some creators that we haven’t seen in a few months, the only creator who’s brand new to Marvel is Rainbow Rowell, and acclaimed novelist who is relaunching Runaways. She’s a pretty big get for Marvel, and it’ll be interesting to see how the new book goes over, especially single issues in the direct market versus the eventual collections of her run.

In terms of female characters, Runaways looks to be a solid showcase for women, plus it could have a gender fluid character in Xavin, should they return. The “Generations” one shots continue to be a strong showcase for female characters as well; Ironheart appears in one, Ms. Marvel in another, and Captain Marvel shows up in two of them. The Venomverse: War Stories special also features stories starring Gwenpool and Wolverine. AND we’ve got a new Star Wars series with a female lead, with Captain Phasma taking center stage in her own solo book.

All together, September looks to be a relatively decent month for representation at Marvel. The numbers remain well below their recent highs, but they’re trending in an upward direction. After posting their highest total in several months, it will be interesting to see if Marvel can sustain or grow those numbers in October.

Wonder Woman #27 Review: The One With The Doctor Brawl

July 26, 2017

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When we last left Wonder Woman, she was attending the wedding reception of Etta Candy’s brother and found a bomb hidden under one of the tables. Things looked very ominous, and this week’s Wonder Woman #27 picks up right after the blast. Then the story takes an unexpected turn into a sort of side conflict. It’s not a bad turn by any means, but the result is that the issue didn’t follow up on key parts of what Shea Fontana and Mirka Andolfo set up two weeks ago. While I enjoyed the issue, I’m now very much looking forward to the next outing to see if they’ll pick up on the threads from the first issue now that this side battle is all sorted. We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to delve into details from this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

So the bomb situation was quickly resolved with Wonder Woman absorbing most of the blast. Etta gut hurt in what looked like it could be a very serious injury, but she’s going to be fine. Apart from the blast at the beginning and the last page of the issue, not much attention was paid to who’s coming after Wonder Woman. Instead, the coughing doctor we were introduced to two weeks ago took a dark turn, resulting in a conflict that occupied the bulk of the story.

It was an interesting fight; Dr. Crawford was dying from a syndrome that targeted both her body and mind, and after spending her life on research to help others, she decided to help herself by grafting Wonder Woman’s DNA into her own in hopes that it would cure her disease. It’s a cool premise that plays out as expected, in that it does not go well. Her new super strength charged her aggression and paranoia as well, leading to a battle with Wonder Woman that she ultimately lost, of course. If you’re fighting Wonder Woman with her own powers, she’s going to beat you. She knows them better.

I really liked the end of the fight, with its clever use of the lasso. Wonder Woman’s powers come from the gods, as does the lasso, and so when Wonder Woman tied Dr. Crawford in the lasso, like recognized like. The divine lasso recognized that the divine powers of Dr. Crawford were not her truth, and expunged them from her DNA, returning her to her previous form. I’m all for unique uses of the lasso, and this was a particularly good one. I doubt it would work on every artificially powered supervillain; I suspect that the divine connection is what did the trick here, so the application is limited. Still, it’s another fun use of the lasso to add to the arsenal and a fun, outside the box idea from Fontana, which is always good to see.

Throughout the encounter, though, I couldn’t help but want to see a bit more of what was set up in the first issue. I was really intrigued with the idea of Wonder Woman seeing herself as a warrior who could handle anything, and perhaps neglecting her mental health for fear of unloading the burden of her many intense, frightening experiences on others. I thought that was fascinating, and this issue didn’t provide many developments on that front apart from adding a few more harrowing experiences to Wonder Woman’s psyche. Maybe Dr. Crawford absorbing Wonder Woman’s DNA and getting overwhelmed with anger and paranoia to such a degree that she lashed out violently speaks to what Diana has to wrangle within herself, but that’s about it.

I also loved the flashback to young Diana on Themyscira in the first issue, and while we got a bit of that again this week, it was very brief. You can never go wrong with cute little Diana, especially in that rad outfit she was rocking during her training session in this outing, and I hope that she plays a bigger role moving forward.

The art continued to shine in this issue, with Mirka Andolfo killing it yet again. She’s just so good. Her artwork is unique and expressive and stylish and fun, and I love everything she brings to Wonder Woman and her world. Especially her Etta! Every DC artist should study Adolfo’s Etta and draw her accordingly moving forward. Unfortunately, this will likely be the last we see of Andolfo on Wonder Woman. David Messina is scheduled to finish the rest of the arc, and while I quite like his stuff, he’s got a tough act to follow. DC’s got Andolfo all over the place in the months to come, with guest spots here and there across the line. It’s cool to see her profile rise and to have her do many different things, but I think that Andolfo deserves more of a permanent showcase. Maybe a run on Batgirl or Supergirl where she can really dig into the characters, design fun stuff, and leave her signature mark on a hero and their world. Though I’ve also got my fingers crossed that she’ll be back for the new Bombshells United! So basically, I’d like Andolfo to draw everything, please. And with Romulo Fajardo Jr. coloring, too! He did an amazing job here yet again, and I hope he’s sticking around next month to color Messina as well.

So, next month we’ve got a new artist and a new villain on Wonder Woman’s trail, as the book’s final page suggests. I don’t recognize her at first glance, but she looks super cool. I love a good helmet design. And her rifle appears rather dangerous. I expect that Wonder Woman’s bracelets will be getting quite a work out in two weeks time!


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