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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

Today in things that make us scream incoherently

The DCnU Gives Amanda Waller One of Their Patented Sexy Redesigns: Yeah, You Heard Right

Very probably, you are getting tired of hearing complaints about the New 52. Zod knows I am getting tired of writing them. But it really does seem that for every wonderful group of minutes one can spend reading Batgirl, Batwoman or Demon Knights #1, in an equal number of minutes later you’re going to go on the internet and find out that in Suicide Squad #1, yes, the one with stripper Harley Quinn, Amanda Waller has had a complete redesign.

Here it is, on the left:

While I’ve never read much Suicide Squad or Secret Six, I have devoured the animated Justice League, in which Amanda “The Wall” Waller figures prominently… as one of the Justice League’s most dangerous and least touchable enemies. And naturally the most frightening thing about her was that in a sense she is absolutely right to think that the Justice League is a danger to humanity. Her existence in DC canon as a large and in charge badass woman of color who could even put Batman in his place warmed my heart. And a large part of the reason why was her physical stature.

It let me know that somebody out there (John Ostrander, Len Wein, and John Byrne) was brave (yes, brave in an industry that, twenty five years later, is still desperately clawing after the 18-34 year old male audience) enough to create a powerful female character in the DC Universe who appears to never worry that her relative physical attractiveness might change how much power or agency she recieves: if she wants power, she’ll take it on her own without requiring any kind of approval, even aesthetic, from those around her.

But you don’t have to take my word for it! Here’s what the internet has to say:


Which makes the decision to revamp the character – whether it was Glass and Rudy’s choice, or something dictated to them by DC head honchos Dan DiDio, Jim Lee and Geoff Johns – even more ill-considered than their decision to draw up a Suicide Girls-like character (seen at left) and call her Harley Quinn. What made Waller unique was that she really did look like a regular person – she just had enough of an iron will to maneuver herself into a position of power. For DC to seemingly transform her into one more skinny gal seems to be a particularly arbitrary choice in a company-wide relaunch that has already divided its’ existing fanbase.

Comic Book Resources:

Until Suicide Squad #1, by Adam Glass and Marco Rudy, Waller was one of the few prominent heavy-set characters in superhero comics. Rarer still, her weight wasn’t used for comic relief (like, say, Etta Candy in her earliest incarnations) or somehow connected to superpowers (as with Bouncing Boy, or Marvel’s Blob or Big Bertha). In a sea of ageless and impossibly thin and tall figures, Waller stood out as a squat, middle-aged force to be reckoned with.

And my favorite quote from Comics Alliance:

So what’s next, DC? Is the Penguin going to be skinny now, too? Perry White? Harvey Bullock?

Don’t. Make. Me. Laugh.

(via Everybody, but also Katie C.)

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  • Ipstenu

    Well … Okay, I’ll give it this: She’s no longer fat and evil.

    And yes, that did always bug me that the strong, morally objectionable woman was basically a female, governmental, Kingpin, complete with being overweight and unattractive (using the DCU scale of attractiveness).  But not enough for me to be okay with this change.  No.  Bad call.

    (Next up: Harvey Bullock – member of PETA and PLAG.)

  • Wesley Smith

    I haven’t had the chance to look at the issue yet, but every story I’ve read the past couple days has that exact image and only that image. Is that the only shot of her in the issue? And if so, is it at all possible that we’re jumping the gun on this one? Is it possible that when we see a full body shot that she might be just a little more full figured?

    No, I don’t think so either.

  • Edcedc8

    next thing you know, perry white will black! outra-oh, we’re not allowed to  be outraged by  some things, but are by others?

  • Francesca M

    /palm  OHHHH FFS

  • Komiyan

    I like how the shape of her neck and shirt turn into basically an arrow pointing at her chest. Hey check these out, it screams! These are important!

  • Frodo Baggins

    Basically, we’re allowed to be outraged by changes to the DCNU that narrow the characters to a set closer to unattainable, stereotypical ideals traditionally promoted by a less than egalitarian society, and not outraged by changes that, rather, broaden the spectrum of characters to something more akin to real life, and allow disenfranchised groups to see more people who they can relate to on a level of identity.

  • Frodo Baggins

    I mean… that’s pretty much what a skinny neck looks like, homes. And I’ve definitely seen eyebrows like that, if slightly less exaggerated. For instance:

    It’s an unfortunate character change, but you gotta stretch to call it a bad drawing.

  • Sarah Rice

    I think they decided to make her look like the actress who played her in the Green Lantern movie.  I don’t like it but I would bet that was the rationale.  See the banner here.  However Bassett still looks more in charge and less sexualized than the lady in that comic reveal panel.  *sigh*

  • Frodo Baggins

    It’s true, there’s a fine line between characters that at least show an example of traditionally franchised groups, and those who merely stereotype such groups. Is it better to have fat black female villains in a story, or no fat black women at all? After all, the Angry Fat Black Lady is hardly something Hollywood has shied away from portraying. On the other hand, from Susana’s description, it seems like they were more invested in making her a complex, respectable character, if antagonistic. 

    Oh well, maybe they’ll make up for it by adding some good-guy characters who are fat black women….BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA But seriously.

  • Sarah Rice

    I don’t think this was saying it was bad drawing regarding the boobs.  Komiyan was pointing out that the picture centers on her cleavage and practically everything is designed to draw the eye there.  It’s just extra support for the ‘this is a sexualized lady’ case.

  • Taste_is_Sweet

    Hell, how many black women in general? Or hoe many people of colour in general? Edcedc8 really doesn’t get it.

  • Amanda Jean Carroll

    Oh nooooo no no. Nope. No. Definitely not. 

    Thing is, they had to make her fat. Being fat was the only way she wouldn’t be routinely sexualized and objectified. So she could just be badass, without her physicality being part of the equation. So she could just be a good, strong character without anyone taking time out to concentrate on her tits or her ass or her pouty mouth or her long legs, or whatever. She was the kind of female character who could be written like a male character because her lack of hotness took writers out of the “I wanna do her!” mindset they’re so often in when they write ladies. 

    She wasn’t THERE for you to look at. She was there to be awesome. Her size allowed her to be written the way all female characters SHOULD be.  

    She represented something important: the idea that physical appearance has nothing to do with the mind. You don’t see a lot of genius but unattractive-by-entertainment-standards characters in TV or movies or comics or even in BOOKS, which aren’t even a visual medium. Especially not if they’re female. Everyone always has “the whole package”. Amanda Waller didn’t give a shit about “the whole package”. She left “the whole package” in the dust.

    If Amanda Waller were real, she would kick DC’s asses like nobody’s business for pulling this kind of crap. 

    Everyone who allowed this to happen should be completely and utterly ashamed. 

  • Frodo Baggins


  • ainok

    Bleagh. I don’t even really read much DC, but when I first encountered Amanda Waller I thought, “She’s so cool!” And yeah she’s evil, but you can just look at her and tell she’s awesome and badass.

    The redesign is not awesome. She’s not noteworthy. She’s nothing at all.

  • Anonymous

    Granny Goodness is fat, ugly AND evil.  What are they going to do for her?  Make a Barbara Bain look a like to represent Her?

  • Komiyan

    It’s not a bad drawing no, but it is drawn in such a way that the eye is led to her breasts. The lines of her neck add to this. This is wholly intentional.

    And that’s not quite how her eyebrow looks, look at the top line. She needs to hit up the salon, she has overplucked!

  • Komiyan

    Yeah, this. 

  • Frodo Baggins

    Oh, forgot to mention, Ed. Casting Larry Fishburne as ANYONE is an automatic net gain. If all of a sudden Superman was Larry Fishburne, I might think, “WTF?,” but you bet your ass I would watch that shit.

  • Frodo Baggins

    Well, I’d say a prominent black female character in the DCNU is still rather notworthy. But I agree she’s poorer for the change.

  • Ben English

    Was Amanda Waller ever really evil? I mean, she’s certainly not ‘nice’, but she honestly believes she’s doing what’s best to protect the people of America from the potential menace superhumans represent.

  • Kristin Frederickson

    Race and gender issues aside – making all female characters skinny and generically attractive is just boring. It’s pretty uncreative to make your entire cast of characters look the same and just have palette swaps and differing costumes to distinguish them. The same goes for male characters too, who are mostly all muscular man-hulks.

    Lame. Unimpressive. Not worth people’s money.

  • Katie

    I think that she kinda danced the anti-hero line, slipping into villainy mostly because a) she wasn’t afraid to go after what she wanted and b) she was against the Justice League, but quite often she did have a good reason to do so.

  • Mark

    I see their reason. It’s the age of movie adaptations these days and they need characters that can be played by Hollywood actors and actresses. Since Jennifer Hudson is down to a size -3 and there is no way Queen Latifah’s gonna play her, they need Amanda Waller to look “Hollywood real.” It’s like how, in Daredevil, they picked a black man to play the white Kingpin because he was the only man in Hollywood tall, fat, and buff enough.

  • Katie

    It’s honestly something that most comic artists are trained (even if
    indirectly) to do, especially for the big name publishers. They think that they have to draw skinny,
    big boobed women and muscle bound guys in order to get into the industry, and sadly a lot of time it’s very true. A lot of characters can be
    swapped out with others if you just switch the colours and the hair a
    bit. Diversity in comics almost seems like a four letter word.

    I have been studying art and trying to learn enough to get into comics, so I’ve come up against it first hand, and I have caught myself falling into the same hole with character design. I was actually working on a redesign of a Lady Deadpool a while ago and someone close to me (who has struggled with an eating disorder for much of her life) was mortified that I, as a larger woman, was drawing a skinny, big boobed character, even when it was my own design. I tried to explain that it was the industry standard, but I couldn’t? I shouldn’t have to. Something like this can really alienate more female readers, as well as readers in general.

    What sort of message are the publishers showing young boys and girls when a famously plus-sized woman is suddenly super skinny? (Not just skinny, almost gaunt!!) Or when an amazing heroine in a wheelchair can suddenly walk, without showing much of her struggle to regain this (how great of a story would that have made?!). It seems that it’s wrong to be different in the DCU. Thank heavens for Marvel and Miles Morales!

  • Nick Gaston

    Could be worse. It could be that she’s so thin because the character is sick, and they’re going to have her die so they can replace her with a younger, hipper, more marketable character…

     …great. Now I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what they’re going to do.

  • Chemise Rogers

    The best thing about this is the reaction of the fans. A LOT of people are disturbed by the change. So while DC mucked up seeing large groups stand up for Waller gave me hope.

  • Anonymous

  • Frodo Baggins

    What about Tyler Perry?

  • Frodo Baggins

    I agree with you on every count, except that Barbara struggling to regain her legs would make a good story. Batman’s already been there, it would just feel redundant if she did too.

  • Frodo Baggins

    No no no, haven’t you heard? Skinny is HEALTHY, no matter what.

  • Anonymous

  • Anonymous

  • Katie

    Just because another character did it doesn’t mean that it would be redundant. If that were the truth then I think that we would have a lot less super heroes out there.

  • Anonymous

    Oh dear gods. Not Amanda Waller, too! *hates on DC*

  • Abel Undercity

    Well, redundant except for the fact that Bats did it 17 years ago. That’s far enough in the past, I think.

  • Anonymous

  • Lis Riba

    I’m just waiting for the REAL Amanda Waller to come out from whereever she’s hiding and kick this skinny imposter’s butt…

  • Felix Brown

    Amanda Waller, too? DC turned their biggest badass-that-is-NOT-Batman into a HOT chick? GIVE ME A BREAK!

    As far as I’m concerned, DC is on the same level as George Lucas (STILL won’t leave his movies alone) and Marvel (scrambling up traffic downtown [they JUST left two weeks ago]): on my $#!t list.

  • Felix Brown

    NO! It’s bad enough that this terribly UNFUNNY man is playing Alex Cross!

  • Felix Brown

    Queen Latifah would have been my only choice, but she’s too glamorous now… and too sweet-natured.

  • Felix Brown

    Damn straight.

  • Anonymous
  • Francesca M

    It just occured to me. This means we’re going to be treated to pictures of her in bed all scantily clad. THE WALL DOES NOT SLEEP. THE WALL EXISTS ON SHEER BADASSERY ALONE. HER BODY IS TOO SMALL TO CONTAIN HER AWESOMENESS HENCE ITS NEED TO EXPAND BEYOND COMIC BOOK NORMS.

  • Anonymous

  • Kalynn Osburn

    I never thought of her as “angry” per say. She doesn’t come off like the Medea character so fondly portrayed as the sterotyped “angry black bitch”. She’s strong, she determined. She believed in the dangers the super empowered posed and was not going to play the victim. That isn’t an angry black woman. That’s an almost noble goal considering that you can understand where she comes from on this issue.

  • Jason Raymer

    I don’t know the character well(JLU was probably my broadest exposure to her), but this…yeah. annoying. and utterly unnecessary. not to mention thematically incoherent.

    However, I’d like to take issue with one part of the article. I feel the otherwise fine folks at Racialicious made an all-too-common semantical error when they claimed “The Wall” really did look like a regular person. First of all, the old design(which I prefer, don’t get me wrong)seemed templated off of The Color Purple-era Oprah Winfrey. I’m not sure the most powerful woman in entertainment counts as a regular person any more than an extremely lithe supermodel(which i’m assuming is the contrast being drawn). or, for that matter, Angela Bassett, who it’s been suuggested by commenters elsewhere is the visual basis for this iteration of the character.

    Secondly, I’m entirely too weary of the “real women have curves” movement. I understand, even sympathize, with the place this notion comes from. but it’s a fallacious idea. I know plenty of skinny “real” women. and, while I wouldn’t call them fake(they exist, after all), i’ve encountered quite a few superficial and/of frivolous women of , let’s call it larger form to avoid any more ire directed my way than is absolutely necessary.

    We do need to diversify our images of beauty in the culture, it’s true. I’m all for education on this matter. not to mention as many support networks as we can implement for people with negative body images. I don’t think absurdo reductio “us vs. them” arguments are the answer, though. Allowing irrational sentiment to pollute the judicious tone of an otherwise well-reasoned point-of-view is detrimental to achieving the very ends any such effort is striving for. My point, I suppose, is be careful with loaded language. We all run the risk(myself very much included) of isolating or alienating potential allies to the cause when we do so.

  • Sarah Rice
  • Anonymous

  • Anonymous

  • Anonymous

  • Anonymous

  • Natalie Sharp

    Way to be body positive DC. :P

  • Kalynn Osburn

    I never found her evil. Morally objectionable maybe but you understood her motives and maybe even agreed with them to some degree.

  • Edcedc8

    I get it, I don’t think you understand sarcasm.

  • Gary Keyes

    I didn’t mind her “heavy” but I didn’t like that she’s one of most powerful WOC in DCU and she had be as “unattractive” as possible–compared to her White counterparts. Just sayin’.

  • Gary Keyes

    Too true. I take back what I said about old Amanda’s shape. Still, this day and age–still can use more Women of Color in the Marvel/DCU’s.