Zeroes Week 3, or, Let’s Shit on Some Female Superheroes, hm?
Another week out, and I’m again happy to report that the fridges are mostly empty this week. Out of the stable of releases this week, only two books featured fridging in any capacity: Nightwing, which compressed Dick Grayson’s classic origin story to fit the five-year Robin timeline (resulting in two deaths - Dick’s mother and father), but was actually one of the few enjoyable zero issues this week, and Red Hood and the Outlaws, which tweaked Jason Todd’s origin story, and then immediately retconned in an even more SHOCKING TWIST in the proceeding back-up! Todd’s mother got the fridge in this book, on not one, but two separate occasions!
September Female Death Count: 12
So, fridging wasn’t really a problem for me this week, but the week a comic doesn’t piss me off in some way is the week I debut my stellar figure skating routine in Hell, so let’s talk about some new DC bullshit, huh?
3. Leslie Thompkin’s De-aging (Red Hood and the Outlaws)
This is Leslie Thompkins, pre-reboot. She’s a doctor, a friend and contemporary of Bruce’s parents, and pretty badass (when she’s not being badly-written). Leslie provides medical care to the poor and disenfrancised, y’know, like some of the people Bats beats up, and is one of the few “civilians” who can and will stand up to Bruce when he’s being a dick and call him out on his shit. She’s an older lady, somewhere in her 50’s - 70’s, depending on which incarnation/era you’re reading/watching.
This is Leslie Thompkins as of the Red Hood and the Outlaws, issue zero.
I don’t follow Red Hood, so she might have shown up before this, but this is my first time seeing Leslie post-reboot, and that woman looks nothing like her. That woman appears to be somewhere in her mid-30s, maaaaaybe 40s if we’re being generous, but come on, now. There’s not a single line on her face. Her hair may or may not be grey, I’m not clear with the coloring, but that face is young and pretty and totally sexy librarian.
What the fuck?
Now it’s entirely possible that the artist just missed the memo, or is utterly incapable of drawing mature adult faces, even though it really shouldn’t be that hard, but given DC’s recent history of altering established characters to fit within a certain age range and aesthetic appeal, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if she’s just gotten a dip in the fountain of youth.
Really, DC? Really? Amanda Waller wasn’t enough, the Golden Age heroes weren’t enough, now you’re putting Leslie frickin’ Thompkins on the catwalk, too?
2. What the Hell Was That? (Catwoman 0)
I wasn’t a big fan of Judd Winnick & Guillem March’s run on Catwoman. I found the art hyper-sexualized, Selina prone to weird facial expressions, the stories occasionally inane and frequently problematic, and lest we forget, Bat-penetration, but at the very least, Winnick’s stories always made sense. I finished Catwoman 0 and I had no idea what the fuck just happened.
Well, that’s not strictly true. I understand what happened in Catwoman 0, I just don’t know how it happened, or where it came from, or what alternate, cartoonish dimension in which Selina Kyle is a marginally higher-functioning version of Gollum we just read about.
The tone was wildly different from the heist-flick feel Winnick’s been going with, Selina was a completely different character from the one Winnick’s been building, the art was bad, bad, so bad, and I hated every second of it. I don’t even know where to start. Selina grasping at an escaped pearl, desperately screaming “MINE!”, like a lunatic? The confusing time-skips in the narrative? The “stress-
eating thieving”? The random plot-convenience shit that happens out of nowhere? Surviving the fall from the top of a skyscraper? Being brought back around by a crowd of cats? WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS? THE HALLE BERRY MOVIE?
I was hoping that Ann Nocenti could writer a better Catwoman, that Green Arrow was just a fluke in her resume, but no, it’s pretty clear that the problem is the writing. She’s turned both Ollie and Selina into cartoon characters. Catwoman is awful, already worse than the previous run, and I hadn’t thought that was possible.
We should not be missing Winnick AT ALL, much less ALREADY, DAMMIT.
1. Wonder Woman, Student of War (Wonder Woman)
So, Wonder Woman’s had a rough year. She’s been retconned into the daughter of Hippolyta and Zeus, her oft-supporting cast of Amazons have been retconned into rapists and taken out of the picture, she’s been, well, surrounded by Dudes (excepting Zola), which I think is a pretty huge misstep when if you’re really attempting to write a female-positive book, and oh yeah, there’s that thing with Superman.
So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to see some more fuckery in the tale recounted in this month’s zero issue, and Azzarello was kind enough to oblige.
As if villainizing the Amazons wasn’t enough, as if deriving her powers from a male god wasn’t enough, now they’ve taken Diana’s proficiency in physical combat and shifted it over to a male influence, as well. This week’s comic revealed that, in her youth, Diana became a student of Ares, god of war, and her longtime adversary (at least, in the previous universe).
This frustrates me very deeply. One of the things I’ve come to love best about the Wonder Woman mythology is the relative abundance of women, and the fact that Diana was one of the few superheroes who was generally free from male influence. She wasn’t a derivative of Batman or Superman, she wasn’t the daughter of a villain or superhero, she wasn’t beholden to some male teacher who made her the hero she is today. Diana was trained by her fellow Amazons; she was female-made. Her sisters and mothers taught her how to be one of the greatest warriors in the world, her sisters and mothers were responsible for training a woman who could go toe-to-toe with Superman. That’s unbelievably rare! The emphasis on a mother-daughter dynamic, on female teacher(s) and their female protege is almost never seen in the creation of super-hero(ines), and I loved that Diana could kick ass and have her sisters and mothers to thank for that ability. Wonder Woman was one of us, made by us, for us.
Now, thanks to issues four and zero, respectively, that’s not the case. Diana’s power comes from being the demi-god daughter of Hippolyta and Zeus, and her super-awesome post-grad in combat comes from being the student of Ares. She is a good person, a good hero, in spite of her raping, murdering sisters and mothers.
It just kills me that Azzarello has become so insistent on replacing the Amazon influence, the female presence in Diana’s background, with a male one. Men are the reason that Diana has power in the New 52, men are the reason she’s an exceptional fighter, men are the only ones worthy of being her allies. To me, it seems like Diana is being slowly shifted over to a female superhero for men.
Because, y’know, they don’t have any of their own.
And what does that leave the women of Wonder Woman? What are they, now? They’re petty, jealous bitches. They’re rapists, misandrists, and child-slavers. They’re baby ovens, liars, manipulators. They’re snakes and stone.
It’s incredibly disappointing.