Posts Tagged ‘Barbara Gordon’

RIP Carmine Infantino, 1925-2013 – His Wonder Woman Legacy

April 5, 2013

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Yesterday, legendary comic book artist Carmine Infantino passed away at the age of 87.  Infantino is perhaps best known for helping to launch the Silver Age of comics when he co-created and designed the costume for an all-new Flash in Showcase #4 in October 1956.  He co-created many other famed characters as well, including the original Black Canary and the Barbara Gordon Batgirl.

In terms of Wonder Woman, Infantino had a surprisingly significant impact.  He never drew much art for the character, only contributing layouts to the covers of Wonder Woman #173 and Wonder Woman #174 that were then finished by Irv Novick:

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But behind the scenes Infantino was a big game changer for Wonder Woman.

In 1967, Infantino became the editorial director at DC Comics.  He hired new creators like Dick Giordano, Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, and many others who are now legends in their own right.  It was Infantino who tasked Denny O’Neil and Mike Sekowsky with revitalizing the lagging Wonder Woman series in 1968.  After nearly two decades with Robert Kanigher at the helm, the series was in a creative and financial rut.  The result was the mod revamp where Wonder Woman gave up her superpowers to become the human Diana Prince, kung fu master and globetrotting foe of the criminal mastermind Dr. Cyber:

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These changes didn’t go over well, and the execution left a lot to be desired, but Infantino was right in deciding that something had to be done to mix things up.  Wonder Woman had been a mess for most of the 1960s, and while the mod revamp wasn’t so hot either, it ultimately culminated in the restoration of the Amazon Wonder Woman a few years later in 1973.  This return was met with celebration from key members of the women’s liberation movement, Wonder Woman made the cover of the first issue of Ms. magazine, and she’s been a feminist icon ever since.  Infantino ran DC throughout all of these changes, finally leaving his editorial role in 1976.

So while Infantino is best known for his art, he played a key role in the history of Wonder Woman as well.  The man was a comic book legend ten times over, and while like many Silver Age creators he never got the financial credit he deserved for his many creations, his contributions to comics will be remembered by fans forever.

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Gail Simone Fired From Batgirl OR DC Must Hate Selling Comic Books

December 10, 2012

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Bleeding Cool broke the story yesterday that Gail Simone was off of Batgirl, and it was soon confirmed by Gail Simone.  Last Wednesday, editor Brian Cunningham told Simone that she was no longer the writer of Batgirl (by email, no less… classy), and the story that’s starting to emerge isn’t so great.  Her removal may be retroactive, starting with February’s already solicited Batgirl #17.  In fact, Simone indicated on her website that she’s written several issues that will now go unused.

The big question, of course, is why.  Presumably editorial wanted Simone to do something she didn’t want to do, and so she was removed.  Editorial dictating stories at DC has come up pretty regularly lately from creators departing the company.  But we don’t know for sure what happened.  What we do know is that in terms of selling comics, this was a very sketchy decision on DC’s part.

Before DC relaunched their entire line, the last issue of Bryan Q. Miller’s Batgirl sold 22,695 copies for 106th spot on the sales charts.  Let’s take a look at the series’ sales numbers since the book relaunched with Simone at the helm:

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First off, of the 14 issues of Batgirl released so far, only ONE has sold less than DOUBLE what the previous series ended on.  On the sales charts, the lowest the book has been is 38th, 68 spots higher than where the previous series ended.  These are remarkably good numbers.

Second, the series has stabilized very well.  All of the New 52 books started out big and dropped off over the following months, but Batgirl quickly leveled off in a very strong range.  The series was helped by a couple of crossovers, but regardless the book has been solidly above 40,000 units sold with several months over 50,000.  Since the relaunch, the series has averaged sales of 54,113 copies per issue for a sales chart average of 28th.  The numbers have been strong and consistent.

Almost all of this can be attributed to Gail Simone.  She has a very dedicated fanbase, more so than most of DC’s creators.  Even her lowest selling pre-DCnU books sold consistently if not massively.  Furthermore, Barbara Gordon returning as Batgirl was met with a lot of trepidation, but readers trusted Simone to handle it because of her history with the character.  Under any other writer, this huge change could have been a disaster.  Simone legitimized the move, and it worked out well for DC.  Along with the strong sales, the book has been a big critical success as well.

But now Simone is gone, and I expect that a lot of readers will leave with her.  I don’t know what it was that editorial and Simone couldn’t agree on, but I sincerely doubt that it’s so interesting and exciting that it’ll bring in enough new readers to overcome the inevitable exodus they’ll get from FIRING Gail Simone.  People aren’t just going to drop the book.  They’re going to drop it angrily, and they’re not going to come back.  I just don’t see how this move was worth it.

Simone has written Barbara Gordon for so long that firing her from Batgirl would be like firing Karen Berger from Vertigo.  Oh wait… DC did that.  Let me try another one. It would be like firing Neil Gaiman from Sandman.  DC may own her, but Barbara is Simone’s character.  No other writer has the pedigree and the trust of the audience to write her like Simone does, especially with the story of the sensitive issue of Barbara’s recovery still untold.  I don’t know what plans DC has for the character, but they can’t be worth the removal of Gail Simone if they want people to read the series.

So yeah, I don’t know what DC is thinking.  From any sort of business standpoint it makes NO sense.  Unless they’ve got Suzanne Collins or some such coming in to write Batgirl, their sales are going to be screwed.  And they have (another) army of angry fans to deal with now.  It’s bad enough they’ve alienated all of the Stephanie Brown fans, but now they’ve got to go after the Barbara Gordon fans too?  It’s ludicrous.  The book was selling strongly and doing great for the company.  It will do so no longer without Simone.  I just don’t see the upside for them, as a publishing company trying to amass dollars.

I’m not sure whether to hope that Simone has some other books soon to be announced by DC or to hope that she doesn’t and that she can go work at another company that will treat her with some respect.  Whatever happens, Simone will do well.  She has legions of loyal fans, and they’ll follow her to wherever she goes next.  I wish her the best of luck, even though she won’t need it.  She certainly deserves far better than an unceremonious firing from a book she singlehandedly made a success.

Maybe DC wanted Simone to write a series of minis called Before The Killing Joke.  That’s my new theory…

My Case For Wonder Woman To Win The Most Kick Ass DC Woman Tournament At DCWKA

November 14, 2012

For the past three years, the fantastic site DC Women Kicking Ass has run a tournament to name the most kick ass DC woman of the year.  This year, the final four are Batgirl (Barbara Gordon), Black Canary (Dinah Lance), Stephanie Brown, and Wonder Woman.  Yesterday and today, each woman’s case has been made in a guest post, and I got to make the case for Wonder Woman:

My argument boiled down to the fact that Wonder Woman has been kicking ass the longest, and in so many ways over the decades while overcoming so many obstacles, that she is the DEFINITIVE kick ass DC woman.  The post takes a look at how Wonder Woman was awesome by decade, starting in the 1940s and running to today.  Plus it’s got lots of fun pictures!!  So go give it a read, and vote for Wonder Woman in the semi-finals and, hopefully, in the finals too!!

I’ve got a feeling that it might be Stephanie Brown’s year as a sort of protest vote, since Stephanie Brown outrage remains strong.  I love Steph too, but Wonder Woman is far and away the most kick ass DC woman and has already lost the tournament twice to former Batgirls!!  Let’s right that wrong this year.  Look for the final voting rounds to begin in the coming days at DC Women Kicking Ass.

I’m Not Going To Watch Comic Book Men Anymore OR Epic Second Chance Fail

February 20, 2012

I did not care for the first episode of Comic Book Men at all, but much like not judging a book by it’s cover, you shouldn’t judge a TV show by just one episode.  So I tuned in again tonight, to give it a second chance.  I figured that since I’m a total comic book geek, maybe there would be something in the second episode that I found more enjoyable.  I can’t turn my back on my comic book brethren after just one shot, however disheartening it was.

That was a bad call on my part.  There was a 1960s Batmobile, which is always fun, but there were also all manner of jokes concering balls and Giant Sized Man Thing and masturbating in a playground and simulating sex acts with action figures.  Plus, next to ladies at all.  In one cut shot, a female customer says “Oh, awesome” when she’s handed a comic book, and that’s about it for ladies in this episode.

All of that was lame and/or terrible, but there was one scene in particular that epitomizes why I’m never going to watch Comic Book Men again.  Let me describe it to you.

The fellows were doing their podcast bit, and Kevin Smith was talking about the 1960s Batgirl, Barbara Gordon.  He said:

I was a big Batgirl fan because you liked Batman and suddenly this is everything you love about Batman, but you can have sex with it too!!

And, of course, his minions guffawed.

So Batgirl is cool because you can have sex with her.  Ugh.  Way to reduce a cool and fascinating character (she was a superhero AND a Congresswoman for pete’s sake) into a sex object.  Great.

Also, “sex with IT”, not “sex with HER”.  Seriously.

Then Smith related the story of The Killing Joke, where Barbara got shot through the spine by the Joker and was paralyzed.  Smith said:

That made her, I think, even more appealing because you just wanted to take care of her because she’s in a wheelchair.

First off, Barbara Gordon didn’t need ANYONE to take care of her.  She was more independent while paralyzed than most people on the planet with two working legs.

Second, a female character is more appealing when she shifts from a strong, active crimefighter to, in Smith’s mind, a helpless, passive parapalegic who needs your help?  AWFUL.

But it got so much worse.  After Smith said he wanted to take care of a paralyzed Batgirl, that dude who runs the store called out:

Really?  You wouldn’t leave her?

To peals of laughter from the room, followed by several riffs about dumping a paralyzed woman.  This is when I knew I wasn’t going to watch this show ever again.

I just don’t like these people.  I don’t like how their minds work, I don’t like what they find funny, and they upset me with their idiocy and sexism.  Yeah, I said sexism.  The way they talk about women on this show is god awful.  So yeah, I’m done.

On the plus side, I did see an ad for Mad Men tonight.  It’s back March 25th, everybody!!!  WOOHOO!!!  It’s nice to end on a positive note.


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