You know, it’s always the same. Retcons. Reboots. Characters missing. Questions about the timeline. “How did Batman have 4 Robins in 5 years?” “How come Earth’s had 4 Green Lanterns in 5 years?” “Why did they get rid of Stephanie Brown?” “Wait, so did X happen?” “I’m waiting for them to go back to…
She was the daughter of a general with a passion for truth and justice and tight blue long underwear. The object of affection for the most powerful and recognizable man in the world she teased, frustrated, delighted and humoured us through multiple tv shows, a series of best-selling comics and a couple of movies you might have seen.
She resonated with women.
In a world of super powered men she was an extraordinary woman who managed to survive without the powers of everyone around her. An apt symbol for a woman operating in a man’s world. Yeah she couldn’t punch through concrete or go toe to toe with gods but she could inspire in ways few others could and she was one half of one of the greatest love stories of American mythology.
In fact in the pantheon of American gods there was only one woman who could truly rival her for the most recognizable woman in comics.
She was, in fact, an actual goddess, or a shapely lump sentient clay depending on her origin. She wasn’t known for her cleverness but for her strength. Where Lois was a modern Penelope thriving through thoughtfulness and a savvy understanding of events and often watching the move violent adventure from afar Wonder Woman was Atalanta, bravely waging battles along side the more traditionally male heroes.
Lois Lane was representative of a woman’s reality and Wonder Woman was our dream. It’s why she was the one appearing on the cover of Ms. Magazine. Why she was the one coopted as a symbol of the Women’s Rights Movement.
Neither is or was better. They’re two halves of the coin. Two characters that both speak for a vital part of our cultural narrative.
But in comics, where the money is had in epic twelve issue battles, Wonder Woman has had a clear advantage. Comics are, after all, fantasies. Men who dress like bats and violently take the law into their own hands are heroes there. Wonder Woman, in her sexy swim suit and with her massive cultural cache and wide array of gruesomely cool villainesses and villains is a potential gold mine.
So DC Comics, rightly from a business perspective, have embraced her as the female face of their brand. She’s a known entity and recognizable to anyone. Even the kids down the street who’ve never read a comic in their life but might one day.
Only her rise has come at the cost of Lois Lane’s decline. Where once the two characters coexisted peacefully (and were even friends in stories) now Wonder Woman has subsumed Lois Lane’s place in the pantheon. (The Dionysus to Lois’s Hestia if you want to continue the Greek mythology comparison.)
For seventy years Wonder Woman and Superman cooperated. They were the rare female/male friendship that didn’t end in sex. They were friends–though a little flirty when the script called for it. He had Lois, an icon in her own right, and she had Steve Trevor, Etta Candy, that one Amazon she made eyes with and her own independence.
Not anymore. Now they’re a couple! A super couple. There’s no room for mere mortals in their stories now. It’s just the two of them being stronger and better than anyone else. Only…only this bid to make them an iconic super couple didn’t occur in a vacuum so in addition to rewriting seventy years of cultural history Wonder Woman’s taken a step back. Now she’s not just the female lead of the DC Universe. She’s Superman’s Girlfriend.
She’s no longer a woman we aspire to be and empathize with. She’s repainted as an object of Superman’s affection. No longer an icon for women, but an object for men.
In film and television Lois Lane and Superman have always found a great deal more success than Wonder Woman. Lois Lane appeared regularly on television in the 50s, in that one ill-advised televised musical in the 70s, all through the 90s and 2000s and up through last year on Smallville. She also appeared in a just a few films. In fact the most successful Superman films of the last three decades have been the ones that fully embraced the Superman/Lois Lane romance (same with television, where Teri Hatcher was one of the most searched woman on the internet while being one of the most talked about women on Lois & Clark)!
Wonder Woman, conversely, hasn’t been quite as successful. Her television show is memorable today but in actuality only ran three seasons in the seventies! And it took a great deal of work on the part of the production company just to get a tv network to air those three seasons. Then in 2011 there was the ill-advised pilot starring Adrianne Palicki that FemPop has gleefully torn apart on more than one occasion. But now, fresh on the heels of her new-found editorial driven popularity at DC Wonder Woman is getting ANOTHER pilot.
This time it’s at the CW which renewed Smallville for six out of its ten seasons and guided the show through its supremely geeky later years. And where the last pilot was penned by David E. Kelly who seemed to be doing it more for money than any real affection for the character this time it’s being helmed by Allan Heinberg who wrote the character at DC when he wasn’t busy producing and writing Grey’s Anatomy, The O.C., Gilmore Girls and Sex in the City.
But in celebrating this new pilot and Wonder Woman’s potential to finally explode into awesomeness in the public consciousness we have to ask ourselves is it worth it? Is her success worth Lois Lane’s failure? And why, after all these years, are the two forced to compete? Both for Superman’s affection, and for ours.
—-FemPop Magazine: Wonder Woman vs. Lois Lane: Why are we forced to choose? http://www.fempop.com/2012/09/10/wonder-woman-beats-lois-lane-in-a-battle-of-women/
Great article that makes several important points.
Asking women to choose between Lois and Diana—-putting the two most famous women in DC history in the position of being pit against each other—-isn’t just wrong…it’s insulting to the history of both women.
And that’s exactly what DC Comics did when they went on National television and didn’t correct anyone when it was reported that Superman “dumped” his wife for a “new sexy sidekick.” It was sexist. It was wrong.
Diana and Lois Lane always will and always have represented two different sides of the same coin in terms of female empowerment.
Wonder Woman represented the ideal of what women could be and achieve if we were not subjected to the chains of institutionlized sexism. What could we do if we weren’t chained down by misogyny? We could literally save the world. She was and is the dream of what could be.
But there is another side to that coin as this article clearly states.
Because if Wonder Woman was the woman that represented what we could be if we were NOT subjected to the chains of institutiolized sexism then Lois Lane was the woman who showed us what we could achieve if we WERE and we FOUGHT BACK.
Lois Lane was born in the World of Man. She was oppressed in the World of Man. And she fought back by rising to the top of a male dominated profession to be the best in her career.
There was a distinctly feminist message in Superman—-our greatest male hero who was truly supposed to be a “super” man (Aka better than the average man who would and could oppress women) choosing to love a woman who was not a supermodel—-but at the top of her profession. A flawed, human woman that had incredible inner power that came not from her body but from her mind and her passion.
Just as there was a distinctly feminist message (that has now been lost)in Wonder Woman coming to the world of man and not being treated as a love interest or sex object for her male peers but as their friend and collegue thereby discounting the concept that women must always be viewed through the male lens. Yes, Wonder Woman had a stunning body and she wore a bathing suit but it wasn’t for a man. It wasn’t seen through the eyes of a man. It shouldn’t have been. Until now.
The comparison of Lois to Penelope is an apt one and it’s not the first time that Superman and Lois Lane have been compared within a narrative text to one of the most famous married couples in history—-Odysseus and Penelope. In fact, the theme of Superman finding his way “home” to Lois Lane has been a repeated themetic choice over and over again both in comics and in live action. Most recently, it was a thematic choice in the final seasons of Smallville with an episode specifically entitled, “Odyssey” that revolved around Clark finding his way back “home” and ultimately finding his next to Lois Lane at the Daily Planet—a sentiment that she returned many times over.
What many people forget about Penelope—-and often forget about Lois—was that she wasn’t just sitting on the sidelines waiting for her man to come home. She held the entire Kingdom together while he was gone. She was the backbone of the narrative. It was her strength and grace under fire that kept Ithaca from falling into the hands of the enemies while the King was away. She was a powerful heroine in her own right even though she never picked up a sword. Spells were cast upon her husband. He was tricked and persuaded to stray from his wife. But eventually he found his way home.
Bottom line? Both of these women represented female power and agency in different but equally valid and important ways. DC’s choice to put a man between them has downgraded both women on the altar of a man. It’s unfortunate. It’s wrong.
We should never have to choose between rising above man’s world and dreaming of a day in which we don’t have to do it.
So, after several weeks of consideration, work will begin tonight on yet another change to the site’s format.
We’ll be reexamining how we structure our reviews, as well as making some major changes to the layout of the front page.
It is my hope that you’ll find these changes to be for the better, as the main goal is to provide much quicker access to related content within pages on the site.
We’ve seen our audience grow by quite a bit in the last two months, but one barrier we seem to be running into is that people are coming in for one article and then departing the site. Hopefully, the new format will help them find their way to some of the other great content that our writers are posting.
I’d encourage anyone reading this to let us know what you do and don’t like about the site, so that we can make every effort to meet your needs!
I’d like to start by apologizing to our readers for not being more diligent about updating the site over the last few days. Wednesday took a lot out of us this week, with a ton of good books to read, all of which merited serious consideration.
When we’re writing reviews, I encourage our writers to take their time and try to dig deep into the book, asking questions beyond “is it good?” and “is it bad?”. Sometimes this means we aren’t as quick as we’d like, as we’re taking the time to give the books the attention they deserve.
The other side of things… well, I doubt there is anyone who would find their way to this post that does not know what happened in Colorado this week.
Jay Gabel did an excellent job covering the news for us, despite being overwhelmed by the emotion of it all himself. You can find his coverage over at CapelessCrusader.org
We spent a great deal of time talking about what happened that night. In the coming days and weeks, we will be devoting time on the site to the issue of gun control as it relates to the gun culture in comics. We’ll be looking at characters like Deathstroke, the Punisher, and many others who have, to a certain extent, contributed to the desensitization of comic book fans to violence and firearms.
We’ll also be trying to, in the words of our heroes at The Newsroom, “present the best possible form of both sides of the argument”. I will make no bones about it, I DO favor an assault rifle ban in the United States, but I also want to make it clear that I do understand the arguments that gun rights advocates make, particularly the “last line of defense” argument. We will have that discussion soon, and I would encourage anyone who reads this to jump in and contribute.
We’ll also finally be posting our review of The Dark Knight Rises. Jay went to see it opening night, and has been sitting on his review out of respect. However, as with many things, if we allow the horrific events of this past weekend to deter us from examining our beloved art form and its offshoots, then we hand a win to those who would see us paralyzed by terror.
It would appear that today’s massive shotgun blast of new reviews hit at just the right time. We’re on track to hit 400 unique users before we even reach the middle of June. My first major goal of 1000 unique readers per month is within my grasp…
So, as I’ve decided to use this space to blog about the running of the Capeless Crusader website, I figured that today would be a good day to bring our (admittedly few) Tumblr readers up to speed.
It’s been an intense couple of weeks. My pay-bills job has actually required my full attention through the course of the day, which has meant far less spare time to work on the site and read comics. Not that this has stopped me from either, but has meant some seriously long nights in front of my keyboard at home while cats pester me for food or demand scratches (which inevitably results in cat fur topping for my coffee).
Our news sections went online last week, and have been drawing a lot of attention, though I’m starting to think that beginning such an endeavor right before San Diego Comic-Con was an exercise in madness (or proof that we need a separate News Editor… anyone?)
With all the news coming out about Marvel NOW! and every other project under the sun, it’s a huge time for news in comics, and I felt that if we were going to be making a serious attempt to develop the next great comics journalism site, then following the industry news was an absolute must.
If you haven’t been over to the website today, you may not have noticed that there are several new names among the Review Crew. Thom Obarski and the writer who simply goes by RAVINGNERD (I know…) contributed guest reviews this week, and may well join us as staff writers soon.
I have to say, the way that the team is slowly building from in such a grassroots way simply astonishes me. We now have writers operating in five states, three countries, and more time zones than my brain can readily calculate. Needless to say, this has been resulting in a great bump in site traffic.
The other big bump that we had in this past week was from the review I posted of Geoff Johns’ excellent Batman: Earth One, which he was kind enough to share with his sizeable Twitter following (though it did not quite equal the bump we got from Kelly Sue DeConnick doing the same with our Captain Marvel piece. Someone needs to up their game…)
Honestly, not a day has gone by in recent memory that I haven’t been tremendously excited to work on the site. I have always had a deep and abiding love of comic books, and watching a community grow around the little slice of the internet I’ve carved out is more gratifying than I can say. To be able to speak with this many people (in a virtual sense, of course) about comics in such a short period of time is a tribute to the passion of the fan base, as they are willing to seek out new opinions on the medium, but also to the incredibly hard work by the writers on the site and Mike Stock.
Mike, who was not a comic fan coming into this, must have been suffering from temporary insanity when he agreed to edit this site. Since I roped him into it over the phone, he has spent countless hours making sure that the various grammatical faux pas rarely make it to your eyeballs. Basically, he makes us look good, and without him, we’d be little more than a bunch of googly-eyed message board trolls hoping to find anyone as cheery about good comics as we are.
That said, I’m going to sign off for now and go get some much needed sustenance. There are a ton of new reviews and some great commentary by our staff writers over on CapelessCrusader.org. Please, head on over, check them out, and leave the writers some comments letting them know what you think. Feel free to disagree with them, berate them, and otherwise humiliate them. It all just makes us stronger.
Ciao for now,
Josh “The Capeless Crusader” Epstein
While I am on vacation this week, I’ve invited some fellow comic bloggers and readers do guest posts. This post is by a writer that I enjoy reading at the blog Comicbook.com, Russ Burlingame. His post touches on a topic which I am sure will invite some commentary — why some males readers will not read a female-led superhero comics. Russ’s thoughts follow.
The notion that male readers won’t read comics featuring female lead characters is one of those things that seems to be widely accepted as a truism not just in comics but in a lot of media; when I spoke to Greg Rucka not long ago, he said that 20th Century Fox, who purchased the film rights to his Queen & Country, are perpetually delaying the project because they don’t think an action film with a female lead can sell. He adds that when they get interested in the project again it’s often attached to the question, “Can you give her a male partner?”.
That seems insane but at a basic level it’s no different from the constant drumbeat from editorial that comics about women get cancelled (or don’t get launched) because the audience “isn’t there for that character.”
Personally, I love stories with strong women. Probably because I was raised by one.
I really can’t wait for this show. Green Arrow is without a doubt the most vibrant activist in DC’s history. With everything going on, NOW is the time for him to shine.
Another sneak peek at The Secret History of DB Cooper #4, which is in stores next week!
Eerie and thought-provoking, as usual. Dammit, Churilla, why must your book be so good???