Skim the 1,600+ comments on Laura Hudson’s article at Comics Alliance about how this week’s Catwoman and Red Hood and the Outlaws comics included an off-putting presentation of female characters, and you’ll see quite a few like this one:
Now, I can’t speak for Laura Hudson or Comics Alliance, but I have a pretty good idea why these two comics are getting so much attention, and it has nothing to do with bias. It’s this: In a lot of ways, DC is the only comic company in the world right now.
That’s not to say Marvel or Image or BOOM! or IDW or anybody else isn’t doing their damndest to get people to buy their books. Or that they aren’t publishing some stuff worthy of attention at the moment (I’d put the last four issues of Daredevil up against any comic from the past 15 years).
But DC is demanding the attention of the comics world and its periphery this month, by completely restarting its entire universe, advertising on TV, garnering tons of mainstream media coverage and pulling down the biggest sales the medium has seen in years. There’s a lot riding on these number one issues. If we’re to believe that these books are going to be a lot of people’s first comics, or at least their first in a very long time, then we’re talking about someone’s entire conception of a medium coming from this reading experience.
I hope girls and women pick up and enjoy the good DC titles with female lead characters—Wonder Woman, Birds of Prey, Batwoman, Supergirl. But for those that remember the Teen Titans TV show and like Starfire or have an affinity for Catwoman, and that pick up the comics featuring those characters, well, they may have read their first and last comic.
I think the celebrations of what The Beat is calling the “DC stimulus” are premature. It’s great that retailers are doing well this month, and the fact that lots of DC titles are selling out is a sign that the company’s marketing efforts have worked. But for many readers, these first issues are test pieces. The real metric is going to come two or three months from now, when the books are going to be three or four issues in. Will that stimulus still be there?
That’s why the content of these comics matters. Every one of them.