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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

Great Hera!

The Hard Numbers Say There are Less Female Characters in the DCnU As Well

Tim Hanley runs Straightened Circumstances, a blog about writing, comics, and Wonder Woman; but since January he has also been keeping statistical tabs on the gender ratios of the creative teams behind each and every monthly issue put out by Marvel and DC Comics, on a weekly basis. His results put into stark relief the lack of gender representation in the industry, where a week with 13% women creators is above average for DC, and 9% is about average for Marvel. But yesterday, Hanley turned the statistical analysis to the number of female characters there are in the current DC line of titles, and how many there will be after their relaunch.

He may even have been motivated to do so by the statements of DC editors at San Diego Comic Con, like Geoff Johns, who when asked about the presence of female characters in the DCnU, responded that DC has more iconic female characters than their competitors and that fans should check out their preview book and count them. So Hanley did.

And the results aren’t promising:

Overall, the DC relaunch is going to result in less lead female characters compared to DC’s current line.  Male-starring books and female characters in team books will maintain the status quo, while female-starring books will drop by a significant amount.  This is not good.  The relaunch is DC putting all of their eggs in one basket, their big argument for why they are awesome and we all should get their books.  According to its architects, the relaunch is the essence of everything iconic and great about DC, the core – nay, the heart – of their universe, boiled down into these 52 new series.  And this essence, this heart, means less female characters…

I don’t even need to run the numbers to tell you that DC would beat Marvel for female leads… I see all of these books every single week, and DC would win handily.  However, come September, DC is going to have a worse percentage of female leads than they did the month before.  This isn’t about DC in the context of the industry as a whole… this is about DC against itself, and it’s getting worse.  It’s worse for female creators, and it’s worse for female characters.  And worst of all, no one in charge at DC seems to care.

(For Hanley’s whole post and more on his methodology, go here.)

After reducing the number of regular women creators from 12% of their lineup to 1% (i.e., two) and then spending the weekend of San Diego Comic Con steadily giving more hostile and dismissive answers to fans asking about the state of female creators and characters at DC; severely underestimating the status of Barbara Gordon as a hero and source of representation for disabled readers; and reducing Lois Lane to an uncharacteristic non-investigatory desk job at the Daily Planet and intentionally making her a prop to make Clark Kent sad about not having a girlfriend rather than a character in her own right; DC has a lot of catching up to do.

You may be the kind of person whose long relationship with reading mainstream American comics has reduced you to utter cynicism (tell me about it), but if you’re not, one of the best methods of recourse I’ve heard proposed is not to take your complaints to DC, whose editors have made their opinions pretty clear in the last week. Instead, complain to DC’s parent company, Time Warner, who know that in the mainstream you can’t get away with openly deriding fans with legitimate questions about representation. A general petition for the hiring of more female creators can be found here, along with a really fabulous reading list of women comic creators. And if you’d like to root for Barbara Gordon, go no further than Eric Glover’s own organized petition.

Ultimately, it’s likely that voting with our wallets is also the best solution, and for geeks, the hardest. Despite how much I love the character, I’m taking Catwoman off my pull list after the creators behind the series keep talking about how she’s a dirty girl and “addicted to Batman,” and just might add Demon Knights in its place after Paul Cornell was nice enough to go out of his way to make a case for it to a concerned fan.

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  • Alexandra Hinton

    I put together a list of the female centric non-pervy DCnU comics. It really isn’t pretty. Six out of fifty two? And a couple of those (Voodoo, Wonder Woman) are still up in the air. They could end up being just as bad as Winick’s “dirty, dirty” take on Catwoman.

    Personally I plan on speaking with my wallet…and uh blogging about how silly this all is.

  • Erica Throne

    One of biggest problems with DC for the past decade has been Judd frickin’ Winnick. When are they going to come their senses and shelve that retarded hack? I feel like I’m trolling by saying this, but I’ve never been able to understand how other readers could still be buying books with his name on them. Is everyone crazy? Because if they’re still letting him take the lead on stuff he must be backed by sales figures. I used to be a fan of Catwoman. The Outsiders. But Winnick has managed to twist every character he’s ever written into some unrecognisable version. He objectifies women in eveything he writes. But it looks like that’s what DC wants to do.

    I wish DC would realize that they’d could’ve gotten more readers in the long run by quitting the “world-changing events” they do every year. That’s what makes their titles so unwieldy. Not the book numbering and 70+ years of publication history and character development.

  • Anonymous

    I know, Susy P, I know. I’ve warmed up to a bunch of the titles, but the overarching logic that’s emerging is getting bleak. Once I heard Barbara Gordon was Batgirl again, I could smell the reactionary nostalgia in the water. 

    Barbara Gordon has been Oracle for quite nearly my entire life. She’s only “Batgirl” to people born before 1982 (assuming a true reader is at least 6 years old). This is not how you save comics for future generations.”Classic” seems to mean appealing to what was status quo during the childhood of a 35 year old fan. Thus we have Barry Allen and Hal Jordan returning to do their Laurel and Hardy act that pretty much no one has been clamoring for in over 25 years.

  • Kristin Frederickson

    I’m all for true equality and the belief that, regardless of gender, people should be hire/fired based on their ability… however, I find it hard to believe that only two women are competent enough writers for DC to keep in their employ. Something smells a bit foul.

    Is it too idealist to suggest forming a new company?

  • Francesca M

    I liked Babs as Batgirl fine, but here’s the deal. Oracle was far more important than Batgirl. Oracle was who the JLA would go to, she was the unsung member of the team. Batgirl is part of the  Batfamily, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But ORacle filled a vital and necessary need to the DCU as it was, she went beyond being just ‘handicapped’ to being a badass. Not only could she kick the ass of the bad guys with the computer, she could kick their asses while still in that chair.

    As for Judd Winnick well that hack has been destroying my favorite characters for far too long now. I stopped reading Green Arrow as soon as he picked up that title, I was destroyed when he was put on the Captain Marvel stuff. I’m sorry he got his mitts on Catwoman. I’m gonna curl up with my JLU dvds okay? Gonna watch a Dinah kicking ass episode.

  • Anonymous

    After 45 years or so of reading DC comics, I’m pretty well put off of them now. How is it that we seem to be moving back to the way things were when I was 7 years old? :P

  • Anonymous

    YES. THANK YOU. It is a pet peeve of mine as well. Pedants unite!

  • Anonymous

  • DH

    Jesus, put into perspective like that, Babs has been Oracle my ENTIRE life, something I never really thought about. And yeah, when I was a kid watching B:tAS she was Batgirl, but when I started reading comics I was reading Cassandra as Batgirl and managed not to be confused (because I’m not an idiot?).

    If Barbara is the most recognizable Batgirl, then Dick is the most recognizable Robin, but of course DC wants to have their cake and eat it. 

  • Frodo Baggins

    Don’t say retarded.

  • Erica Throne

    Why? It’s not a swear word. Should I have used something that is currently more politically correct? But I’m not comparing him to anyone. I mean, the guy really is just incredibly intellectually limited. The question as to whether or not a word can be used is easily answered: Yes, because it’s a word and when used correctly can describe people, places, things, and ideas. For example, I’m a fat girl. If you ask me, overweight is more offensive, but apparently “fat’ is now a bad word too. Does that make any sense to you? If someone call me fat and mean it as  and insult, than you can damn well bet I’m going to use retarded.

  • Eric Bazilio

    I completely subscribe to this. Fuck political correctness, it’s a virulent hipocritical band-aid and a terrible substitute for genuine respect.

  • Anonymous

    Great post. I did not know about Catwoman’s “addiction”. Sheesh. Come on DC, you’ve lost your own plot. Why defang her?

    A hiccup with sending complaints to DC’s parent Time Warner is that Jeff Robinov, then president of production at WB, reportedly* was pretty out loud about his thoughts on females in the creative space: “We are no longer doing movies with women in the lead”. That was 2007. Robinov is now in line to possibly replace the Time Warner Chief Executive. Yes this is about movies but it all trickles down. He overseas all the fiefdoms under the Warner banner. If the editors at DC are prickly and defensive now (they know dang well that they are slighting female creatives and characters), there will be no pressure coming at them from above to rectify the situation unfortunately. Fight the good fight! But realize how high up this goes.

    *The original article from