Hey, That’s My Cape! – Is THE NEW 52 The Wrong Relaunch?

It’s a tough time to be a woman who likes superhero comics.

Some people scoff when women separate themselves from the fandom pack but in this instance I would hope that they understand. While the issues I’m about to discuss are shared by both men and women, I’m discussing my perspective as a woman and what I hear from other women. The DC relaunch was billed as changing the comics game, gaining new readers and making drastic changes to characters. I’m not going to paint the entire relaunch with one brush but it’s safe to say last week’s controversy put a black mark on it. For women, everything seems to have stayed the same.

Catwoman and Red Hood and the Outlaws drew the ire of countless individuals, men and women alike. The problem? New readers were introduced to breasts instead of female characters. And I mean that literally. If you’ve somehow managed to miss all of this up until now, the first page of Catwoman is focused on her breasts. Her face isn’t even shown. In Red Hood and the Outlaws, Starfire is introduced by her actual breast size. Thirty-eights, in case you where wondering. But wait, this is superhero comics, right? This is what they’re about, right?

Wrong. That’s what superhero comics used to be about. The DC relaunch was supposed to be a new beginning, one that would get people who weren’t interested in comic books before, into comics books.

You want everyone to read comics? Comics should be for everyone.

Head on over to Newsarama to read this week’s Hey, That’s My Cape! where I talk about how we need to talk about *it*.

13 Responses to “Hey, That’s My Cape! – Is THE NEW 52 The Wrong Relaunch?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Chicken-and-egg. Most Lego sets are designed for boys because more boys than girls play with Legos, and more boys than girls play with Legos because most sets are designed for boys. More males than females read comics because most comics are adolescent male power fantasies, and the comics pander to male fantasies because more males than females read comics.

  2. Some industries just don't want to change, I wrote to Lego's about the lack of variety for female friendly Lego sets and was told that more boys play with Legos than girls – talk about narrow minded and short sighted. Their latest girl set (they have a whopping total of 4) is a pre-made dollhouse with Lego accessories – very little building required. The quote for it places mom inside with the baby and dad out by the grill – I thought I was looking at a 1950's advertisement.

  3. If everyone could stop reiterating that Starfire was *always* sexy, that would be great since her being sexy is not the problem everyone is having. It’s her being devoid of emotion, personality or the ability to remember anyone she’s slept with.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hi I just red, and enjoyed your comments.
    I have sat completely silently through the reboot/relaunch call it what you will.
    I have a 10 year old daughter – I have read comics my ENTIRE life. And I HATE where they are going.
    To think that when I was a kid – comics were a place that created worlds of wonder for me to escape to. Now? Hell I have no idea. I just think there is no safe place for innocence any more.
    I no longer recognise the landscape – particularly with THIS stuff.
    Batman…Superman…Wonder Woman are icons – universally recognised and I really believe that if your a parent today the fact that you can't trust those icons – or rather the people that are in charge of those icons – it's plain wrong.
    I understand there is a "T" rating or whatever the hell they want to use…but…dammit….dammit…this is Batman – does that make sense?
    Maybe I am just old fashioned.
    And as for the convoluted history of these characters…I don't want to go THERE.
    Maybe you know – the creators should have realised that before they STARTED constantly trying to "fix" continuity there wasn't THAT much of a problem.
    As I said I have a ten year old girl – and I HATE the thought that she could look at Catwoman and read the Teen Titans and think to herself " so this is a super hero comic, and THIS is the stuff my dad used to read and tell me about…"

  5. Anonymous says:

    Ms Pantozzi, I completely understand everything you're saying. I do.
    But I also think its complete c***. Starfire has always gone around mostly naked, the fact that they've simply stepped it up a gear in terms of her sexuality doesn't mean that they're being sexist! This was NEVER going to be a childrens book. Not ALL books can appeal to ALL ages. Its just not possible. Can you not see the possibility that, beyond your righteous indignation, Lobdell had some long term plan for her and the others? Kori, like Jason and Roy are going to develop. Theres obviously going to be more to it than they've given us so far! I mean she's an alien! She see's thing differently to the rest of us. Teen Titans the tv show was aimed at under 10s. If they had tried to make this book the same, NO ONE would have bought it.
    I was looking forward to Red Hood and the Outlaws the most out of the whole DCnU. And you know what. It didn't disappoint.

  6. Budd,

    Are Starfire and Catwoman really being portrayed as heroes? Catwoman is a thief. Nothing in her new book displays anything heroic about her. And Starfire is hanging out with a bunch of "outlaws." If you want them to be role models, you'd have to eliminate more than just their sexuality.

    Just because they're the star of a book, doesn't make them heroes or role models. You'd have to boycott the original Suicide Squad and Secret Six, or any of Marvel's 500 Deadpool titles if that was the case, and everyone praises those books.

  7. Budd says:

    Comicbookreflections- Yes, there are women that exist like that in the real world. DC is portraying these women as heroes and by default role models. Maybe I am just ultra concervative, but I don't want my daughters seeing over sexualized "slutty" characters as heroes/rolemodels.

    nerdy bird, to be fair the swimsuit issues of the 90's had male and female scantily clad characters.

  8. I thought Red Hood was a decent book. Forgetful Starfire was a neat idea. Like Dora from Finding Nemo. That can be hilarious. Old Starfire was always open with her sexuality anyways. My favorite Starfire is the Teen Titans cartoon one though, so yeah…

    Catwoman of course was despicable. She's a sexy character. I get that. It's part of who she is since like forever, but that's been done way better in the past (like Michelle Pfeiffer). She was even sexy on the 60s TV series. But Catwoman #1 was gratuitous smut.

    To play the devil's advocate, a lot of female characters are over-sexualized. No denying that. You have to give some slack though. Not every women in the real world is a saint. There are plenty of promiscuous women in the world. You wouldn't have countless porn stars, if there weren't women in the real world that acted like Starfire or Catwoman in the New 52. You wouldn't have short shorts and bikini tops as a summer style standard. Katy Perry wouldn't be singing about it. Women like this exist in the real world. Why shouldn't they in comics? Not every female character is going to be Lois Lane, Barbara Gordon, or Dawn Granger. I don't think you can really be upset that characters like this do exist, even if they aren't the types we want to read about.

  9. I concur with the 90's statement. In fact, Dan's whole goal in this was to replicate the sales figures of the 90's when there was a comic shop every few miles opposed to every few cities.

    To do this he tossed in a lot of creative forces from the 90's. All of which have this imprint of the standard 90's look.

    I don't know if you remember, but Marvel, DC, Image, etc. all had their own "swimsuit" editions with the sort of stuff found in Redhood and the outsiders.

    To quote BSG, all this has happened before. All this will happen again.

  10. I think you make an interesting point there. I think the internet of today allows for a much broader and more vocalized reaction to these types of depictions. In the 90s and before, there weren't as many places to share your opinions and have them heard.

  11. Bubbashelby says:

    Everyone running DC today got their start in the biz in the nineties. The sexed up boobs the size of watermelons boob and butt at the same time pose every third issue is a #1 Leifeld has a career YET comics are making more money than many decades previous nineties. They aren't going back to the fifties or any other misogynistic era of millenia past, they need only backpedal to the nineties. those NINETIES comic book sensibilities are what everyone seems to be complaining about yet no one is pointing out that it is all these guys who are now Captaining the ship know.

    Not that it's right but it needs to be seen for what it is: human nature to go back to what you know, what is comfortable and what worked in the past for you.

    Remember Balent's Catwoman in the nineties? Catwoman was a blow-up doll in the nineties. Knowing that, no one should be surprised she is being treated as one by the folks who made their fame and fortune in the nineties again today to make a new fame and fortune.

  12. Please see: My full article

  13. GKFinns says:

    Please see: Supergirl, Batwoman, Wonder Woman, Teen Titans, Birds of Prey, Justoce League Dark, Batgirl, and Blackhawks