First of all, I want to open this up by saying I’m all for more women reading comics and more female creators. That’s not really a concern here. What is a concern is that ahead of San Diego Comic Con, DC has been making a lot of changes, and put together these changes might raise a couple of eyebrows.
Most of DC’s books are going through creative changes, but most of the ones starring women are going in a rather more “girly” direction, at least according to the ad copy. For example, Batgirl is being rebooted as a lighter book: New artist Babs Tarr has stated that she wants to bring “some flirt, fun, and fashion to the title! I don’t think you see a lot of that in mainstream comics and I am excited to bring that to the table.” Babs’ storylines of late have been a wee bit grim, so yeah, she deserves a break.
Then there’s Wonder Woman, where Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang are wrapping up a spectacular three year run, to be replaced by, uh, David Finch and his wife, Meredith, who has never written an ongoing before, and expressed a desire to make Wondy more “mainstream”. As for what DC means by that, well, they’ve been talking about her “interpersonal relationships” a lot, so probably that means more Superman and Wondy dealing with relationship stuff and trying to ignore #teambatman as a trending hashtag. Pair that off with Gotham Academy, targeted squarely at the YA market, and a direction is becoming apparent here.
DC is, on some level, just trying to be more appealing to a greater number of people, and at least they’re making an effort and making some good creative decisions, like hiring Genevieve Valentine for Catwoman and giving Becky Cloonan more work. Nor are books like World’s Finest or Batwoman going anywhere. And if these books are at the same level as, say, the current run of Ms. Marvel, which had some pretty tone-deaf marketing copy before it hit the stands, they’ll be some pretty good books.
Still, at the very least there’s something of a disconnect here between what these books actually are and how they’re being sold. Granted, comics nerds of all stripes see a creative team switch out and brace for the worst. It’s a learned reflex. But it’s difficult not to look at what DC’s doing here and wonder if they are assuming what female readers want instead of asking them.