When I heard Wonder Woman was getting a new creative team for the first time since the New 52 began, I was elated. I’ve talked about this on my own Tumblr at greater length, but in a nutshell, I think Brian Azzarello’s turn with the character has made a great general superhero comic, but one which fails to prioritize themes of femininity or feminism. For any other superheroine out there, I’d be pretty happy with that arrangement, but a Wonder Woman comic which fails to address gender issues is like a Batman comic that glosses over opportunities to addresses the morality of killing, or gun violence, or loss; a Spider-Man comic that never takes a moment to touch on personal responsibility; or a Superman comic in which humanity is proven at its core to be weak, fallible, and selfish. Perhaps a new creative team would shake things up a little, re-retcon the Amazons out of being seducing/murdering/infanticiding slavers, and reorient the comic a bit.
Well, best laid plans of mice and comics readers, because in an interview with Comic Book Resources, artist David Finch, one half of the husband-wife team taking over Wonder Woman, inserted his foot straight into his mouth when describing the new take on the character: “We want her to be a strong — I don’t want to say feminist, but a strong character. Beautiful, but strong.”
Now, to be 100% fair, Mr. Finch frequently mentions offhand that he’s letting his mouth run a little in the interview, and also that he’s definitely not co-writing with his wife, Meredith. “I’m happy to leave the writing to somebody that is a little smarter than I am!” And Ms. Finch’s answer to the same question is, I think, much more of what Wonder Woman fans want to hear:
She’s really a female icon from way back in the ’70s when females were stepping up and taking such powerful roles. Being able to take on that quintessential female superhero who represents so much for myself and for millions of people out there — especially at a time where comics are coming more into the mainstream — I feel like it’s really special, and that’s really where I’m coming from when I’m writing this. I want to always keep who she is and what I believe her core is central to what I’m doing.
Ms. Finch also spoke about the correlations between the women’s movement and Wonder Woman’s character to USA Today. “You had the mom roles but you didn’t really have big heroic women saving the day back in the ’70s,” Meredith says. “Women were just transitioning into the workforce, and because of that [Wonder Woman has] been taken on as an icon for feminine power and empowerment.”
But feelings on the new creative team were already a bit shaky, given Mr. Finch’s name in the pin-up art game, not to mention some previous Wonder Woman art of his going viral as an example of sexualized posing of female characters. His comment, whether the product of a running mouth tripping over its own feet (if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor) or not, doesn’t jibe well with assertions that the new take on the series is planned to appeal to female readers. And it makes me more inclined to wait and see on the series, rather than to run out and buy issue #36 the day it arrives on shelves.
But in good news on the DC Comics front, is the announcement of a brand new series, Gotham Academy, written by Eisner award winning comics creator Becky Cloonan. Cloonan became one of a very, very small pool of women to ever draw an issue of a core Batman title just a couple years ago, and now she’ll be co-creating a “new, monthly teen drama set in the shadow of Batman and the craziness of Gotham City with new characters and old, plus a secret tie to Gotham’s past” with art by Karl Kerschl, creator of one of my favorite webcomics, The Abominable Charles Christopher. Now that‘s a comic I’ll pick up day one.
David Finch has responded to questions about what he meant in the interview:
I wasn’t saying Wonder Woman is not for being equal, and therefore a feminist. I just want her to be a human being, fallible and real.
— David Finch (@dfinchartist) July 1, 2014
I certainly apologize to anyone who can see how it could be interpreted that way, but it couldn’t be further from my heart.
— David Finch (@dfinchartist) July 1, 2014
What do you guys think?
(top pic via Hark, a Vagrant)
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