Wed, Jan. 24th, 2007, 07:11 pm Supergirl: Now Safe For Female Consumption?
This week's DC Nation article is a plea on behalf of our my favourite Kryptonian.
Supergirl needs women!
As a gesture, it's heartening. At the very least, they have decided that I'm part of a demographic they *want* to court, and have given effort (and page space!) towards doing this!
We've finally got confirmation on the thought processes behind Power Boy's character design, and I can't say I don't approve. And the example sketch they give us, with Kara distracted in battle by the power of his butt... Okay, I'm amused!
(Perhaps his "costume window" is in the wrong place?)
On the other hand? There are valid reasons I'm not buying this book. It's great that the problems with the art were discussed, but they haven't actually been *fixed*. I am honestly glad they choose to make Kara's story less simple this time around. Execution-wise, however, it's been a disaster.
I'm not sorry to hear Ian Churchill is off the title, of course, but I'm not won over by Ale Garza, either. (He's the one who drew the Supergirl story in the Infinite Christmas special.) In his rendition, that costume is especially painful to my brain.
So thank you for the invitation, Mr. Beganza, but I'll have to politely decline.
I would love to buy a Supergirl title. Sadly, judging by what has come so far, it won't be this one.
I like his *style* more, but I hate that costume SO MUCH. Barry Kitson *almost* manages to draw it unoffensively, using a cunning combination of more fabric and carefully chosen camera angles. I couldn't look at Kara in the Holiday story, though. It kept making my eyes bleed.
And by "mimbo" I'm pretty sure they mean "fanservice for people who like their boys pretty". To be later transitioned into sexy, sexy danger, of course.
I mean, I like Supergirl, sometimes, in theory, when she is hanging out and being super-gay with Cassie, and when they play her up as kind of an Anya-like character, who just doesn't quite get it, this being-human-and-interacting thing. But something about this just seems...um. Condescending, I guess.
It's a step in the right direction, at least, as it reaches out to the female readership and acknowledges that readership as a significant one which ought to be considered, but...the tone just kind of rubs me the wrong way, a little.
but...the tone just kind of rubs me the wrong way, a little.
You're not wrong. It took me a couple minutes after reading it to decide how I felt about it. I eventually was swayed by the fact that it *is* a step in the right direction, and that they (at least) claim have considered what women might want in the title.
I don't think it's *more* condescending than the other articles DC writes for its fanbase... not a *difficult* condition, I know. (And, yeah, the "So, ladies" at the end doesn't play that well.) But they do seem to be trying to court the female audience and, even if they're not exactly going about it as well as they could, it leaves me hopeful.
(Optimism == one of my biggest character weaknesses.)
I may have to write a letter to Mr. Berganza, explaining that women are more likely to pick up his titles if they are not being patronized. Starting out with "women are unnecessary" as your basic premise is not the best way to go about this little missive. Following that with putting words into the mouths of women everywhere: also not so good. First of all, the problem is not necessarily Kara's weight (or lack thereof), and actually, all women don't automatically hate everyone skinnier than them. The problem is that a) her body is completely, freakishly unnatural because Ian Churchill can't draw, and b) every other woman who shows up in the series looks like that too, albeit sometimes with bigger boobs, confirming that it's a problem with Churchill, not Kara. I'd be perfectly content for Kara to remain a twig if there were some variety in the body types.
Then Berganza jumps to the costume thing, while neatly sidestepping the topic of Kara's own - and I'm sorry, a "chest window" on your "mimbo" (the fuck?) does not mitigate the grossness of sexualizing a 16-year-old girl. Now anyone who wants to argue with him is between a rock and a hard place, because how can we say "It's not about the costume!" and protest Kara's simultaneously? Nice rhetorical trick there, Ed. I also enjoyed the "some of you may not be keen that we didn't go straight into America's Sweetheart mode with her." You don't like the direction of the comic? You are clearly an old-fashioned fool who doesn't want natural character development! I don't like being manipulated that way in any context.
(Also, Rucka did not have a "run." He had an issue.)
They're going about this the wrong way. As you say, it's good that they are trying to woo the female demographic, and it's good that they are recognizing problems with the art, but they aren't really fixing them (and though I do think Garza is an improvement over Churchill, my first encounter with his art was this, and that, combined with this cover, don't inspire a lot of faith). But more over, STACK UP, DC. You don't tell us to buy the comic and THEN make it better. That's BASS ACKWARDS. You fix it. THEN we buy it.
P.S. You're missing a period on that last sentence, Ed.
I may have to write a letter to Mr. Berganza, explaining that women are more likely to pick up his titles if they are not being patronized. You should. (I'm going to, although the theme of mine is going to be "let's talk after she gets *pants*".) If this article really *does* mean that they want more women in comic shops, then it means that they are interested to know if they are choosing the right way to go about it.
I'm not that personally offended by the patronizing tone of the article (although I probably should be - you've laid it out all logically for me and everything). Most of the press DC and Marvel publish for their fans *is* insulting and patronizing. Implying that "you should like this comic and what we are doing with it and if you do not what the hell is wrong with you" is hardly a new trick.
Which is not to say that this is a good way to treat your audience. Just that my standards of acceptable professional behaviour wot I expect from DC are pathetically low.
and I'm sorry, a "chest window" on your "mimbo" (the fuck?) A tangent, but I always thought Power Boy's costume is hilarious because it's *not* barely appropriate. Like the costume window has become Peej's *symbol* now, you know.
Um, so yes. It really doesn't compare with how they've been treating the title character.
because how can we say "It's not about the costume!" and protest Kara's simultaneously? See, for me it is *totally* about the costume. I hate the costume. The costume makes everything else that is wrong so much worse.
But... forward them a copy of the great rant someone (The more famous Karen, maybe?) wrote on how the costumes aren't the problem, but they are a symptom of the problem. There was a lot of truth in that.
that, combined with this cover, don't inspire a lot of faith That's an awful cover. It makes me want to crack jokes in *such poor taste*....
*restrains, earning the continued adoration of the ENTIRE INTERNET*
But more over, STACK UP, DC. You don't tell us to buy the comic and THEN make it better. That's BASS ACKWARDS. You fix it. THEN we buy it. Word. (Again, going about this the wrong way.)
P.S. You're missing a period on that last sentence, Ed. Maybe he needs an editor? ;p
I'm not that personally offended by the patronizing tone of the article (although I probably should be - you've laid it out all logically for me and everything). Most of the press DC and Marvel publish for their fans *is* insulting and patronizing. See, that's always bothered me for years, almost more than their treatment of women. They don't respect their fans even a little, and I feel like they should be called on it.
I always thought Power Boy's costume is hilarious because it's *not* barely appropriate. ...Yeah, I hadn't seen the costume until just now, and, um, what? That's their idea of equal opportunity ogling? A cup holder on his clavicle? Yeah, NO. (Also the rest of it is hideous, but that's neither here nor there.)
See, for me it is *totally* about the costume. What I meant there was that it isn't about the costume generally. Berganza assumes that women don't read comics because of the skimpy costumes on the women, and, well, that may be true for the woman who walks by the comics rack in Borders who's never picked one up, although I don't think it really is. Nevertheless, most of the women I know who read comics regularly don't think the costumes are the main issue. They are an issue, sure, but not the main one, and Berganza singles that out instead of things like fridging, women who lack agency, sexy sexy danger, rumors of institutionalized sexism in the companies, Frank Miller, and so on.
That's the general, though. In the specific, however, Kara's costume is atrocious. I've been sitting for a while on the idea of a costume page for Super. Girl., so I've thought about this a lot, and my main beef with Kara's costume is that she consistently fails to demonstrate agency or understanding of cultural signifiers where it's concerned. Without going in depth here, I'll just say that her introductory arc in Superman/Batman consistently showed other people choosing her clothing for her; since aside from a possible off-panel encounter with Lois the only women she's met by the time she puts that costume on are the Amazons and the Female Furies, how can a girl from a culture that is constantly covered from head to toe have any true understanding of the difference between Wonder Woman's bustier and, say, jeans and a t-shirt? She's been on Earth for over a year now, so I presume she's a little more up on Earth mores, but she's still wearing the costume, which puts a bad taste in my mouth.
Furthermore Churchill, Turner, Garza, and quite a few others clearly delight in drawing the costume as titillatingly as possible. As you said above, Kitson does his best to make it decent by making the skirt longer and not, you know, doing teasing shots of an exposed buttock. Most artists who've drawn her in an official capacity, however, seem to deeply enjoy using the costume to imply that this sixteen-year-old girl is not wearing panties, and that I just will not stand for.
Honestly, at its basis I like the costume. I don't mind the skirt - Supergirls have never worn anything else, with the exception of Cir-El, and if we can't have an actual legacy I'd like to maintain a visual one. I also don't mind the bared midriff - I was partial to that myself as a teenager, and again it's a holdover from Linda and toon!Kara. I adore the sleeves; the only thing I have a real problem with is the belt, and that's just because it annoys me. I feel very strongly that it's the execution of the costume and not the basis components of it that make it so mind-bogglingly offensive.
Maybe he needs an editor? Editor Ed needs an editor!
Yeah, it's hard to believe now, considering how much I love the book, but I was pretty dang skeptical about Spidey Loves MJ before actually reading an issue. For my money, it's the best Spider-Man book being published right now. It's got everything that used to make Spider-Man great, and he's not even the star of the book! This is a great model for bringing diversity to mainstream comics, in my opinion.
McKeever and the series artist Takeshi Miyazawa have managed to breathe some much needed personality into MJ and the little Spider-Man asides are as believable as they are cute. I recommend the book 110%. Here's a nice scene slice.
With the creative team leaving, I don't know what's going to happen to the series, but I think Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane is gonna be one of those great, underrated superhero books that people trade copies of because it was just so good, like Robin Year One or Neil Gaiman's Legend of the Green Flame.
The sad thing about the Supergirl book is that, usually, I think it is really good. (The nonsensical cousin-kissing Kandor story notwithstanding.) I don't know what DC was thinking with that costume, especially when you consider that in the past year or so DC has made some (albeit small) steps in the right direction: doing away with the ridiculous naval-window in Huntress' costume, getting Wonder Girl out of the belly shirt, going several months without the Birds of Prey leaning over motorcycles in bikinis on their cover. It's almost like poor Kara has to counter-balance the plodding path DC is following in to maturity.
I rather like the belly shirt on WG. The only Supergirl I've brought was #10, the high school issue, and I really liked WG's outfit in that. Jeans and the eagle belly shirt. It was both attractive and believable as something a high schooler would pick for a costume. Certainly far more believable than the usual skin tight spandex.
Ah. That's actually the improvement; the costume I was referring to was her ... shall we call it Post-Crisis Pre-Crisis costume, the one with the contemporary WW symbol on the shirt, which ended at roughly her second rib. I actually like her Post-Crisis Post-Crisis costume quite a bit as well.
Umm... something's been bothering me about mimbo...
Although I'll first say that I've only followed Supergirl via downloadable scans, and I want to like it too. Guys like me like seeing strong, kickass superhero women too.
Anyhow, mimbo... it's not the drawing of beefcake that's the problem, but it's like making mimbo in the first place to try and counteract the 'bimbo' is giving the character no other real reason to exist when what could be done is give the female characters sensible superheroing clothes to wear.
The effort is appreciated, but the action dosen't work well, in my opinion.
I'm buying it. I guess I'll continue to buy it for a while too. Things is, even though I'm not fond of most of the Kara characterization that's happened since the title started, Powerboy makes me laugh. So does Captain Boomerang. And frankly, I totally fangirl over Wondergirl's cameos. So, I guess I'm buying it for the supporting characters...that's fine by me.
The art isn't an issue with me. Sheesh, it's a comic book for crying out loud! Women have been given the soft-core treatment in comics for generations. Some artists are better about it than others, but really, what makes Churchill so special that people rally up against his Supergirl portrayal? Personally, I like his work.
I look forward to Ale Garza's run. I think he did an awesome job with the Young Justice/Teen Titans x-over and I liked his work in the holiday special.