Monday, September 16, 2013

DC comics death from Above: writing for management

Starfire, bad ass.
In the not too distant past, I did an article about how DC comics seems to have a pathological problem with sex.

This month, the problems have really started to hit me.

Keep in mind, the last DC comic story I read was "Final Crisis," and that one didn't even make sense.  Once they went to the New 52, "One More Day"ed every relationship, and started warping the very nature of their characters, I have only glanced at the comics from time to time, usually to my horror.
Starfire, fashion victim

It was bad enough when DC comics took Starfire -- an alien who was fairly open about her sex life, and was completely monogamous -- and turned her into a .... I'm not entirely certain that the word "slut" is a strong enough word. Not only did they have to go out of their way to make the character amoral when it came to sex, but also gave her a costume redesign to match.

I mean, really? Who comes up with this stuff?

Then Catwoman's character redesign was .... also horrible.

I figured, okay, not a problem, that's two comics out of 52, and one of those writers is Judd Winick, who is a crappy writer to start with (Really? Let's bring back Jason Todd? That's a good idea by you?).

And then some of the most recent stupidity hit the fan.

batwoman.jpgTake, for example, Batwoman, a "Lesbian hero in the DC universe."  That, in and of itself, doesn't effect me. After all, I figured out a while ago that the DC policy on women created since the late 80s is simple: if you're not a woman dating a Superhero, or if you don't have superpowers in the DC universe, you're a Lesbian (Footnote: see Maggie Sawyer, Metropolis cop; Renee Montoya, Gotham Cop, Batwoman... you get the idea).

Here's the problem.  After building up for months the concept that "Oh, Batwoman's going to get married to her girlfriend," DC pulls the plug on the whole concept.

Now, I don't know if you're aware of this, but comic books are usually planned out at least one year in advance. This allows for planning, crossovers, editing, illustrating, etc. You can't start a 6-12 month story arc without approval.  You can't start something and blink at the last minute.

And yet, this is what DC comics has done.

If you told me that, at the last minute, someone had old religious feeling kick in and they felt they had to swerve away from a lesbian marriage .... I wouldn't believe you.

Why?  Well, aside from the fact that a lot of people don't give a crap about gay marriage (my opinion on it is here), you have.....

1) As I said above, the "new 52" imposed a "One More Day"- like idiocy on the DCU.  No one in the entire DC universe is married anymore.  Barry Allen, married forever? Not anymore. Superman and Lois married for all of the 90s? He's now dating Wonder Woman.  Marriage is, after all, for old people. Who cares if your loyal readership of decades have grown up with these characters in solid, committed relationships? Teenagers are where [DC thinks] the money is.  (Personally, I'd wager my money on the middle aged professionals doing a 9-5 and have a few bucks to catch up to Superman this week)

2) I can't see religion being a factor, given what was done to Catwoman and Starfire.  And, after cancelling any wedding for Batwoman, DC decided that they wanted artwork of a naked Harley Quinn committing suicide. Which leads me to...

3) Is it just me, or is every active writing decision that DC Makes centered around pandering?
  • "Hey, we'll have some gay superheroes!" And make it a green lantern from an alternate universe who gets almost zero screen time, as well as one of a hundred interchangeable green lanterns.
  • "We'll make a title heroine who's a Lesbian, yay!" as long as she doesn't get locked into a stable relationship, but we can see her make out with her girlfriend.
  • "Let's have two of our strongest female leads turn into sex crazed women!"
  • "Naked Harley Quinn!"
Seriously? Who's in charge of DC comic nowadays? The same five year olds who swear on MMORPGs because they just discovered these great new words?

My point? I'm not sure if I have one, short of "top-down control is bad."  I used to think it was deranged when there was an infinite amount of crises at DC.  "Oh, hey, we're going to continually shake up the DC universe every month."  But those at least created some interesting stories and some good writing along the way, such as the three year War of the Rings in Green Lantern, or the series 52.

This .... all this has just resulted in bad writing. Does anyone know what's going on anymore?  Once it was editorial lockdown from above, where everyone was in lockstep with the crisis du jour. Now, it looks like no one is in charge except for refugees from my old high school.

1 comment:

  1. They hate stories. That's the biggest thing. My last regular DC read was All Star Western, by Palmotti and Gray, who do interesting stuff, and are great in the old West. Then Booster Gold showed up, and took it to the toilet. Palmotti and Gray were even setting up a Freedom Fighters book for awhile, but the plug got pulled along the line of miniseries.


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