DC Round-Up: Comics Released 1/18/17

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How many Batman books is too many Batman books? Depending on who you ask there ain’t no such thing! We try to stay up on what’s going on at DC, but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of DC Comics. Today, we’re discussing Batman 15, Green Arrow 14, Green Lanterns 15, Superman 15 and Trinity 5. Also, we’ll be discussing Nightwing 13 on Tuesday, so come back for that! As always, this article containers SPOILERS!

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Batman 15

batman-15Drew: Abstract any story enough, and you’ve heard it before. That’s not much of an insight — Joseph Campbell beat me to that punch a long time ago — but I think making stories look the same requires a great deal less abstraction than we typically assume. Take, for example, the first time Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle laid eyes on each other. Whether you’re imagining the botched diamond heist from Batman 1 (that is, the first volume, from Spring of 1940) or the botched reconnaissance mission Bruce went on in Year One, the stories are remarkably similar. A character in disguise (not the typical disguise we associate with them), their plan goes awry, and the other character is immediately drawn to them. I’m not certain Frank Miller was intentionally mirroring Catwoman’s first appearance when he wrote Year One, but in Batman 15, Tom King makes those similarities feel essential to her character.

To emphasize this, King establishes both stories as the first meeting of these characters — Batman remembers the Batman 1 story, while Catwoman remembers Year One.

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It’s an intriguing approach to continuity, suggesting less that “everything happened” a la Grant Morrison, and more that continuity as we know it is an amalgamation of subjective memories. But what’s really fascinating here is that King unearths and advances a theory on the nature of Batman and Catwoman’s relationship — something that has been true from their very first meeting (whichever first meeting you choose) — and smashes it to bits.

Because what’s essential to both of those stories, and arguably every Catwoman story ever, is the tension between their romantic interests in one another and their adversarial costumed relationship. Neither of those stories could “end” without disrupting that tension, effectively turning their relationship into something else entirely. King does exactly that, allowing them not just to openly declare their love for one another, but to do so joyfully, embracing one another in a way that wasn’t possible when they first met (just look at that final row of panels I included). Which is to say, this isn’t like every Catwoman story we’ve heard before — it’s effectively the last one, a kind of conclusion to the story established in her dual first appearances. This issue fundamentally changes their relationship, and leaves Batman appropriately disturbed. It’s a daring move for King, but with such confident command over Catwoman’s entire history, it feels like a purposeful one.

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Green Arrow 15

green-arrow-15Michael: Green Arrow is a bleeding heart superhero, one who feels very responsible for the wellbeing of his city – Seattle or Star City. When there’s a killer on the loose or political injustice afoot, Oliver Queen takes it very personally, which is why he is punishing himself again in Green Arrow 15. Part four of “Emerald Outlaw” deals with the aftermath of Malcolm Merlyn’s attempt to frame Green Arrow while corrupt Officer Notting starts his own little vigilante revolution.

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Oliver takes his frustrations out on his bathroom mirror as Juan E. Ferreyra gives us a recap on past events through the broken glass shard panels. I sometimes complain about over-exposition, but if you can catch new readers up to speed in an engaging and interesting way, I’m all for it. There’s an interesting “mirror within the mirror” concept going on here as Ferreyra presents us Trump stand-in Nathan Domini (look at those tiny hands) as a mirror image of demon-masked Cyrus Broderick.

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Ferreyra constantly shifts the panel layouts throughout Green Arrow 15. As Notting and his “Vice Squad” go on their killing spree through the prison, the gutters of the page are transformed into the bars of a prison cell. Later he draws a good cop/bad cop game of chicken as a double-page spread made out of 17 panels of varying shape and size. Ferreyra breaks down the sequence beat by beat and stretches out the tension – sometimes literally – making it that much more effective. I would be completely fine with Green Arrow being a monthly book if this man could be the regular artist for every issue.

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Green Lanterns 15

green-lanterns-15Patrick: Jessica Cruz is an oddity among Green Lanterns in that she suffers from crippling anxiety. That’s a hard idea to reconcile with any superhero, but that’s an even trickier idea when you have to put her condition in the same column as “the ability to overcome great fear.” So which is it? Is Jessica paralyzed by fear or impervious to it? Luckily, writer Sam Humphries refuses to ask questions as pointlessly pedantic as the one I posed above, portraying Jess’ anxiety less as a weakness and more as an opponent she fights every fucking day.

Humphries is joined this issue by a small studio of artists — Tom Derenick providing the layouts while Miguel Mendonca pencils, Scott Hanna inks and Blond colors. And it’s a good thing there’s so much artistic support for this story. For an issue titled “A Day in the Life,” there’s a ton of bombastic action in this issue, including a cameo by the Justice League. Derenick’s layouts are often driven by this almost obsessively orderly geometry, and it gives the otherwordly events of Jessica’s day an OCD quality. I mean, check out how pleasing the lines and circles are in this fight against a giant golden sea monster.

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I love the circle created by the Bat Plane’s path, the submarine in the monster’s hand and Cyborg’s jets. I love the perpendicular lines of Simon and Cyborg’s flight paths. I love the symmetry of Wonder Woman and Jess on one side and Cyborg and Superman on the other. I love Flash cutting a clear path down the middle. It is so clean and so orderly. Jessica may claim that it’s Simon who is in his element here, but it’s clear that she’s more or less at peace doing this too.

Humphries, Derenick and Mendonca will also turn that orderliness against us when Jess’ anxiety gets the better of her. But that idea is phenomenal – it’s always there, and some days she’s better than coping with it than others. At one point, Simon says “I thought you were better” to which Jessica replies “I don’t ‘get better’ from this.” It’s just like how Batman can never fight crime to completion, he can only keep fighting it.

Oh and speaking of Batman – team-up next issue? Hell yes!

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Superman 15

superman-15Mark: Multiversity is my favorite DC event series ever,  and I couldn’t be happier to see its legacy live on in Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s Superman run.

After a breathless Superman 14, Tomasi and Gleason slow things down just a little to give a bit of context for readers who maybe aren’t familiar with Multiversity or the Multiverse in general. You know a writer is aiming for the cheap seats when a scene begins with the words “…So let me get this straight…” When Superman is the one delivering that line, it’s hilarious.

But any issue that includes visits to so many Earths will never fail to win me over. Earth 2 is all well and good, but I just love seeing the rare Earths like Earth 14 trotted out. (And do you think the inclusion of Earth 10 came with the editorial mandate that no full swastikas could be in frame?)

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Four artists (Ryan Sook, Ed Benes, Clay Mann, and Jorge Jimenez) worked on the issue, and it’s a pet peeve of mine when artists aren’t credited for the specific pages they worked on. In anthology issues you never see writers go uncredited on their specific story, so it’s weird to me when we let it slide for artists.

Superman encountering the many Supermen from throughout the Multiverse in Superman 15 did give me an idea for my own million dollar one-shot pitch, though: group therapy sessions where superheroes work through their issues with their counterparts from the Multiverse. I’d read it.

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Trinity 5

trinity-5Spencer: There’s only one creator credited on the cover of Trinity 5: Francis Manapul. Indeed, while there are obviously letterers and editors involved in the creation of this issue, the majority of it comes solely from Manapul’s mind. In most ways that’s a good thing, as Manapul usually puts out his best work when he’s given freedom to craft his own ideas as he sees fit — Trinity 5 proves that true by providing some of the most straight-up gorgeous art Manapul’s ever created. He provides page after page of iconic images, bombastic action, and unbelievably vivid colors (in fact, if Trinity has taught me anything, it’s that Manapul might be an even better colorist than he is an artist — and he’s a damn fine artist), and while his storytelling and layouts aren’t as flashy as his work on The Flash, they continue to be smart and intuitive (I love the simple detail that scenes taking place in the real world have borders around their panels, while scenes taking place within the dream world don’t).

The story is rather smart too. This entire arc (aptly titled “Better Together”) has been about bringing this new incarnation of the trinity together and gaining power from connection and family, so of course Mongul would put that very concept to the test by siring a child of pure evil and manipulating Poison Ivy to do his bidding by pretending it’s hers. He’s using the very idea of this title against its stars, and I can’t wait to see how they turn the tables on him.

Where Manapul could really use another set of hands, though, is with the script. While Mongul has a bit of menace to his dialogue, the rest comes across as painfully generic at best, and embarrassing at worst. Most of the characters have similar voices (if you isolated much of the trinity’s dialogue and took their names away, I’d have no idea who was saying what), there’s loads of unwieldy exposition, and the trinity especially throw around generic stock phrases like they’ve got a room full of em.

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The writers of the Justice League animated series have admitted to having a similar issue in their first season, often saddling Superman with painfully generic lines, so as a self-effacing joke, an episode in season two featured an army of Superman robots repeating real Superman dialogue from season one, pointing out how truly bad it was. Superman’s line here sounds exactly like one of the lines those robots would have spouted. It’s not even the issue’s worst offender: that honor would go to Batman’s “Justice League intel has this guy last seen buried in Black Mercy.” Seriously — Batman referring to Mongul as “this guy?” Is he sixteen years old, and also not Bruce Wayne somehow? It’s just way too casual a line for him.

I think Manapul could really benefit from the kind of arrangement Chris Samnee and Mark Waid share over in Black Widow — Samnee comes up with the stories and art, then Waid touches up the dialogue to give it a more finished, professional touch. Don’t get me wrong — Manapul will probably always be a creator whose work people buy for the art more than anything, but with sharper scripts, his books could go from being “okay stories with great art” to legitimately great series.

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The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?

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22 comments on “DC Round-Up: Comics Released 1/18/17

  1. Man, that was a great issue of Batman. I love the twin origin stories all netting out to the same basic relationship. I also love seeing those tonal and visual differences on the same page together.

      • Counterpoint: Sheriff of Babylon. Probably the best detective story last year, full of well placed reveals and a sense of ever increasing scope as the story of the investigation of a single murder grows larger and larger. A great example of neo-noir detective drama.

        • Tom King is one of the best writers at the moment, and last year completed three different masterpieces while writing the consistently great Grayson. To judge him on his awful work on Batman is unfair, simply because since Rebirth is such a trainwreck, everyone is writing at their worst

          Steve Orlando got critical acclaim for Monster Men, but he is responsible for the terrible Night of the Monster Men and the quickly disappointing Supergirl
          Greg Rucka is famous for his support to LGBT readers, and is now queerbaiting them in Wonder Woman
          Seeley and Tynion have somehow lost the understanding of characters they used to get
          Even something like All Star Batman is disappointing compared to the essential work that came before.

          Judging a writer on what they write in Rebirth is unfair on the writer, even if the writer is being especially affected by Rebirth. I highly recommend trying Tom King’s work when he isn’t under an editorial climate whose primary focus is making DC Comics boring and shit

        • If you want some recommendations for Tom King’s work, I would start with Grayson and the Vision.

          Grayson is pure superheroics done exceptionally. Sometimes does really innovative and unique things (the Future’s End issue is one of the most imaginatively structured comics or recent memory), but is the perfect thing to read if someone wants to read Tom King write a superhero story.

          The Vision is not a superhero story, and instead is more of a thriller. Basically a horror story about the androids in suburbia.Very little superheroing, but instead a tense increasing tension as the Visions quest for humanity instead leads to more pain and suffering, with the promise that at the end, the Vision will doom the world. A masterpiece

          From their, it is best to got of Omega Men and Sheriff of Babylon. These are sister book to the Vision, and also masterpieces. These stories are challenging, in every sense of the word. But amazing because of that

        • Did I miss where Wonder Woman is bad or offensive? It’s as good as I think it’s ever been, isn’t it? I’m really enjoying these stories.

          (ok, I looked up queerbaiting because apparently I’m a troglodyte. That seems ridiculous, but I’m not gay and will never understand because I certainly am not on the lookout for books that are for straight white dudes and really aren’t going to follow through on the straight white dudes doing straight white dude things.)

        • Yeah, it can be hard for us to know just how much representation matters, simply because it is impossible for us to imagine what it would be like to have to struggle to see someone like us in the media. But it is certainly a thing. The stories of young kids make things really clear. The story of the autistic boy who saw Drax and loved that Drax didn’t understand metaphors like him, or all the young girls instantly falling in love with Rey. I remember a story of a dinosaur obsessed young girl who saw Jurassic World and Mad Max Fury Road in the same weekend. Barely had a feeling about Jurassic World, but fell in love with Mad Max and named her soft toy owl after the Splendid Angharad. Hell, yesterday I walked past a young girl and her mother who just came out of Moana, and it was funny that no matter how much the mother wanted to discuss how great Maui was, the girl just wanted to talk about how awesome Moana is.

          But it isn’t just little kids. Think about how much love the Luke Cage show got for being unapologetically black, or the excitement people are getting over Black Panther being in movies. To use an LGBT example specifically, the 100 has been the centre of all sorts of conversations, at first because of being the one of the few shows to have a gay romance as its central romance, and then for the backlash that occurred when they killed one of the pair off (despite being heavily foreshadowed, a production necessity because the show had lost the actress to Fear the Walking Dead and the fact that the 100 still had at least four other queer characters running around, including the main character and a pair that were still in a committed relationship). We may not be able to fully understand just how important it is, but it is important to recognise that it is. Diversity is important because it is a more accurate representation of the world, but the real reason it is important is because of just how meaningful it is to those that are desperate for more representation.

          That is why queerbaiting, which seems so meaningless to us, is actual really exploitative. Which is why I have a problem with DC doing it, especially with Wonder Woman. It is exploitative to give the promise of queer content, but to never provide, instead of actually providing it.

          I don’t think DC are intentionally being evil here, just like I don’t think that DC are intentionally planning to be producing shit. But it all comes down to Rebirth’s mission statement, where iconography and ‘going back to the roots’ are key ideas, but character, originality and diverse content aren’t prioritised. Rucka probably wanted to reveal Wonder Woman was queer, but DC instead wanted to prioritise iconic elements like Steve Trevor, the world’s least interesting man, and pushed for the focus to be on that. So they came to a ‘solution’, which was the interview. But lacking anyone who knew what exactly they were doing, what was meant to be a pledge to a LGBT community was actually exploitation. But if I’m right, it doesn’t justify or excuse what they did. Just because they had good intentions doesn’t change the fact that it is a blight on Rebirth, and they deserve to be racked over the coals. Because it is honestly horrible that DC did this

        • My favorite recent story about how important representation is is the story about how the coming out of Alex Danvers (Supergirl’s sister on the Supergirl TV series) effected this young woman: https://twitter.com/sapphicgeek/status/805146210235518976

          (Although really, just scroll through Chyler Leigh’s twitter feed and you’ll find so many amazing stories)

          Queerbaiting might be a BIT too harsh of a term for Rucka’s Wonder Woman, as he’s at least been able to confirm that Diana likes women within the pages of the comic book itself, but yeah, I can see how he could do more.

          Kaif, queerbaiting is a relatively recent term and has only relatively recently become a problem, but it’s probably existed as long as stories have. In the times when it was taboo for homosexual relationships or acts to be shown or confirmed in media, queerbaiting was actually considered a GOOD thing, as it allowed for writers to hint at homosexual relationships or hint at same sex characters having attraction or love towards each other (even if those characters were confirmed as straight) without violating standards or getting the show in trouble — LGBT folks starved for representation latched onto them because it was all they had, at least in terms of mainstream stories.

          Of course, now, in a time when even children’s television can get away with fairly explicit instances of same-sex relationships (has anyone been watching Steven Universe? They had an entire episode about Pearl asking a girl out on a date), queerbaiting is antiquated and has become a problem, because it means that the creators are more interested in trying to titillate than exploring actual LGBT characters, or that they think that just vaguely hinting that characters might be gay is still adequate even in a world where that’s no longer the limit of what they can do.

          Look at BBC Sherlock and its fandom for probably the most egregious instances of queerbaiting.

        • First: I understand the need for representation. I’m not going to go into my background for fear of sounding like, “I have black friends,” but I’m pretty comfortable with my understanding of how important it is to have representation in media. (Short anecdote: A couple years back while working at a school that was 90% black, I was trying to find superhero posters with black characters that wasn’t Storm with her tits hanging out and I pretty much struck out. It’s slightly better now.)

          I just don’t know how Wonder Woman “promised” one thing and is now delivering another and how that should be thrown into “Rebirth sucks!” I don’t get that at all. But I know that I read things differently than most of you guys. Of all the things that I’ve found wrong with modern DC, Wonder Woman not being as gay as promised wasn’t anywhere on my list.

        • I do think queerbaiting is the right term. DC had an interview where they announced it. It was a big, public reveal planned by DC (and there is confirmation of this) that created headlines across the internet. And then proceeded to do nothing but innuendo. I have not seen a single panel that makes Diana being queer canon, as opposed to something that can easily be dismissed as rumour by the next writer.

          DC made a massive, public declaration, and then refused to commit to it. I don’t want to get too deep into discussions about Sherlock, but NOTHING that Sherlock has ever done is anything that major and then simply did nothing.

          If it was kid’s animation, it would be one thing. Animation still has massive hurdles, which is why shows like Legend of Korra and (I believe) Adventure Time have had to rely on the ‘we did the best we were allowed to hint at the relationship, and making it clear that this is our intention’ (I’m not entirely clear on why this problem exists. From my understanding it isn’t, surprisingly, about America audiences, but on the problems with selling the shows to nations that are anti-LGBT. Which confuses me, as what is it about the economics of children’s animation that means things work differently to all those live action shows that don’t have to care about the laws of Russia etc?). The only reason that Steven Universe gets away with it is that it has created lore that specifically says ‘technically, Pearl is a space alien that has no gender because she’s alien, so technically it isn’t a gay romance’. It is something that only Steven Universe can get away with, from my understanding (which is a tragedy. Because kids deserve queer representation that isn’t from shows with such grossly horrific sense of morality. The utter lack of empathy the show has is revolting).

          But the thing is, this isn’t kid’s animation. This is comics. And comics don’t have the same problems. Gay representation isn’t perfect, but you don’t need to hide it or exploit technicalities. Hell, Young Justice could never show that characters were gay on the TV show, but used the supplementary comic to reveal what they weren’t allowed to on screen. So the idea that it is right for DC to make a massive announcement that Wonder Woman is queer, than simply do nothing is terrible.

          They had headlines on basically every pop culture news site, then just pussyfooted around and didn’t do anything that couldn’t simply be ignored. Got all the praise and good publicity, while not doing any of the actual important work. Maybe queerbaiting isn’t the perfect term, but it is still a travesty.

          Like Spencer, I too loved that Alex Danvers twitter thread when I first read it. It is beautiful. But one important thing is that not only was this in response to one of DC’s own TV shows, but that the starter books that were offered were Gotham Central, Midnighter and Batwoman: Elegy. In fact, Marvel wasn’t mentioned once. So if DC can have such a great legacy of queer comics, and can produce TV Shows like Supergirl that champion LGBT, they can surely do something as simple as fucking only promise the stuff they actually are prepared to fucking do. That shouldn’t be too much to ask

        • Dude, Matt, I still don’t buy this argument that DC promised anything about Diana’s sexuality. Greg Rucka did an interview with Comicosity, which was part of that website’s push to explore queerness in comics and they asked him if Wonder Woman was queer. He totally softball answers the question, first asking what the interviewer meant by “queer.” And when Rucka has his answer, he gives an extremely qualified answer, steering into the overall queerness of Themyscria, and the necessity for the Amazons to have sexual and romantic relationships with each other (they are in Paradise, after all).

          If there’s anything in that interview that Rucka is explicit about, it’s about how the Amazons nuke the idea of a heteronormative culture to the point where there really IS no such thing as queer within that society. I don’t know if he and Scott and Sharp have effectively explored that, but even if they haven’t, I don’t believe that to be a bait and switch of any kind. Rucka also says he’s thinking about what Amazons would make of a transwoman – it doesn’t mean he has any responsibility to explore that in the series.

          I totally agree that I’d like to see more queer representation in comics, and would delight in some straightforward gay stories in this series. However, I totally disagree that this was promised by either DC or Rucka. It doesn’t matter how many headlines this interview generated – that’s not the creator or the publisher doing that.

          SIDE NOTE: I do wonder what would be the utility of exploring Diana’s sexuality within the context of Themyscria. If she’s in a same-sex relationship in a world with only one gender, is that even queer? Isn’t part of the gay or lesbian identity at least slightly trangressive? What happens when you take that aspect away? Is that fair to the experience of homosexuals?

        • You don’t think that it is realistic that DC had any influence in the decision to have Rucka have an interview entirely about queerness and Wonder Woman? That is a big part of what DC’s job is. Their job is to make announcements and set interviews specifically to promote the books. DC are constantly in contact with sites like CBR, Comicsalliance, Bleeding Cool and Comicosity to arrange all sorts of stuff, including interviews. I mean, CBR have X-Position, a weekly interview with a writer of an X-Men related book. That can only work with a relationship with Marvel itself. Looking at Comicosity’s site itself, they have an interview with Steve Orlando going through the characters in JLA, the sort of interview Orlando is making everywhere at the moment. Surely DC was involved in planning that one? So what do you think makes this one different?

          Especially as, if DC had no involvement, it seems to be a very odd interview to have. If it is what you describe, where Rucka is asked a question and softballs the answer (which I think is a very generous description. I mean, after the interviewer gives his description of queer, Rucka says ‘Then yes’, followed by a whole bunch of stuff that hammers the point home. The fact they also discuss what queer means in the context of Themyscria does not change the fact that Rucka answered a definite yes to that first question), then why was the interview done in the first place? Why would you make this interview, instead of any other interview (if you want a DC writer to discuss the queer narrative with, how about Steve Orlando? Actually writing a book with a character whose queerness is canon, and is bisexual and therefore much more qualified than a straight white man, even Rucka). And then there is the thing that Rucka represents DC’s views when he is being interviewed in his status as the writer of Wonder Woman. So if the contents of the interview don’t represent DC, it means two things. Firstly, Rucka fucked up bad by allowing this interview be done from the perspective of him as a DC representative instead of the perspective of ‘the guy who wrote many of the most important queer comics’, and DC fucked up by letting Rucka make that mistake.

          And while we can never say with 100% certainty that DC didn’t organise the interview (I would be surprised if they didn’t…), we do know that they vetted it. In another piece (http://www.comicosity.com/bi-and-bye-catwoman-wonder-woman-and-the-dilemma-of-reveal/), the writer said that the interview was ‘vetted by the company itself prior to publication’. Which means that what DC should have done is said that ‘currently, DC has no plans to release a story addressing Wonder Woman’s sexual orientation. DC has no position on what Wonder Woman’s sexuality is until that point, and everything Rucka says represents his own point of view’. DC had the chance to make sure the interview wasn’t misinterpreted before it spread across the internet like wildfire. And then another chance after the interview to clear it up.

          The fact that they haven’t is bad. If DC don’t want to say anything that contradicts the interview, there is only one thing they can do. It is not being silent. It is not suggestion and innuendo. It is actually making Wonder Woman queer

        • Oh, I’m sure DC PR was involved in booking that interview — there was probably even a rep from DC on that call — but in my experience, those people are really just there to make sure the interview happens and to babysit the talent a little. I don’t believe that the message from comic publishers is anywhere near as controlled as you’re characterizing it. If DC and Marvel have any stake in what actually happens in these interviews it’s just to a) make sure no one flakes and b) no creator says something crappy about the publisher or people they work with. That set of interviews we did with the Bebop and Rocksteady artists over the summer were facilitated by a rep from IDW, but all he did was put us in touch with the artists (and sort of imply that it was their job to talk to us). I know we’re not Bleeding Cool or IGN or whatever, but the oversight is pretty minimal – even when they’re on the call. (Drew can tell some fun stories about Brian Azzarello’s handler asking him to be nice and answer Drew’s questions.)

          I also think you’re mischaracterizing what Rucka said. If he had said “yes – Wonder Woman is queer as we all understand it and this series will be about tackling the relationships and lifestyle that stem from that identity” then sure, we should be disappointed if the series isn’t explicitly doing that. As it stands, it looks like Rucka is simply discussing the background emotional and societal work he did on the character.

          I don’t believe it falls to DC to issue press releases based on the kinds of stories they’re NOT going to tell. They send press emails around all the time with information on creative teams, story initiatives, etc. and one ever comes across my inbox that says “Wonder Woman will start telling queer stories now” and they don’t deliver on that, then I’ll be right there with ya, buddy.

          SIDE NOTE: Rucka is writing about Guardians of the Whills novel about Baze and Chirrut from Rogue One. Into it?

        • I am completely unsurprised about that Drew has stories about Azzarello. Not surprising in the least. Azzarello has done some great work, but from everything I’ve heard about him, it is not surprising.

          And I don’t think what I’m suggesting from DC is that controlling. Ultimately, it is as simple as making clear that whatever else Rucka says and whatever opinions Rucka has, that DC’s stance should be clear. I’m not talking about massive oversight. But as you said, their job is about facilitation. And I think part of that facilitation should be making the stances clear. This is especially important when, instead of doing something like what you guys did with IDW where it is primarily about doing a deep dive into the story itself, you are discussing something like queer narrative. Something where miscommunication can go horribly wrong.
          I don’t think it would have been controlling for DC to want DC’s position to be clear. In fact, I would argue the difference between telling Azzarello to be nice and asking Rucka to make DC’s stance clear isn’t too different. Ultimately, it comes down to facilitating things that create the best possible interview.
          I mean, ultimately, if the interview was unchanged, but somewhere in it was a line like ‘DC understands the importance of queer narratives, and through characters like Batwoman, Midnighter, Apollo and the Ray, DC wishes to show it is committed to its fans in the LGBTQ community. However, in the interests of not deceiving those fans on the content of our books, DC has no position about on the queerness of Wonder Woman or any other character, and will only announce a position when we are telling that story with that character’. Probably needs a bit of refining, but I think I get the basics in place

          Because instead, we have an interview where the very first question is

          Matt Santori-Griffith: I’m going to start off simple and to the point. The Wonder Woman that you and Nicola have introduced to us in “Year One” — is she queer?

          Greg Rucka: How are we defining “queer?”

          You’re applying a term specifically and talking to an ostensibly cis male (and white to boot), so “queer” to me may not be the same as it is to an out gay man. So, tell me what queer is.

          MSG: Fair enough. For the purposes of this conversation, I would define “queer” as involving, although not necessarily exclusively, romantic and/or sexual interest toward persons of the same gender. It’s not the full definition, but it’s the part I’m narrowing in on here.

          GR: Then, yes.

          Rucka then goes on to discuss things what queer means in a place like Paradise Island, but not before he explicitly says that, using the definition provided by the interviewer, Diana is queer. He then says things like

          ‘Now, are we saying Diana has been in love and had relationships with other women? As Nicola and I approach it, the answer is obviously yes.’

          ‘By our standards where I am standing of 2016, Themyscira is a queer culture.’

          ‘If Grant Morrison writes an Earth One book where Diana is calling Mala her lover, I don’t think one can get more definitive than that.’

          Which say, regardless of the discussion of what queer means of Themyscira, Rucka clearly states that, by our standards, she is queer (also, I really don’t like the argument about Earth One. Alternate Universes/Takes are supposed to be alternate. Many of those Earth One books made choices that aren’t supposed to reconcile with the main universe. What stuff from those books are supposed to be canon? Especially when, according to Multiversity, the Earth One books are part of the multiverse. Which multiversal features of, say, Superman are supposed to be canon for our Superman). Rucka spends a lot of time discussing the background emotional and societal work he did, but he also states quite clearly that Diana is queer, despite the fact that the books only have rumour.

          And you are right that DC doesn’t need to do press releases about every story that they aren’t doing. If everyone starts posting false headlines about how Ozymandias is the big villain in the event, DC should stay quiet. But I think there is a difference between something like that and Representation. In something as important as Representation, I feel that it is essential to that we discuss it truthfully. I do think that in this case, DC have a responsibility to correct the record.

          Because DC may not have released a press release, but they might as well have. If you search ‘Wonder Woman queer’ on Google News, you get 71,300 results. Not all of them are about the interview itself, but a plurality are. Many others reference the interview (though there are some others that have to do with things like the biopic of Wonder Woman’s creator). The first page of a traditional google search are the interview itself and nine articles that say ‘Wonder Woman is officially queer’ in different ways. The first two articles, by the Guardian and AfterEllen, are in front of Comicosity in the results page, and the fourth article is from Time magazine. So major news sites and probably the most iconic LGBTQ website (alongside many others) were discussing this story. When a story goes this wide on a topic this important, shouldn’t DC have a responsibility to correct the record? This isn’t an obscure interview on an obscure website, but a story that spread around the world. I truly think DC have a responsibility to correct the record, especially when they got to reap so much good press for something that doesn’t reflect the comics themselves. In something this important, other people’s mistakes are not a good enough reason to justify DC not correcting it. So they should either commit to what the headlines say and write queer Wonder Woman, or correct the record and state that there is no answer to whether Wonder Woman is queer, and there won’t be until they write a story that actually answers that question.

          And yeah, Rucka writing a story about Baze and Chirrut sounds fantastic. Donnie Yen’s performance was amazing in Rogue One, and Chirrut was one of the best characters. And Rucka, with his history of stuff like Batwoman, Lazarus and Queen and Country is pretty perfect to explore something like the occupation of Jedha (hell, I just remembered that Rucka wrote Shattered Empire, and therefore is part of the Marvel Star Wars stable. Of everyone who Marvel has worked with, I can’t think of a better writer for that Captain Cassian Andor series Marvel need to hurry up and make). Great characters and a writer perfectly suited to the sort of war story that a Rogue One ancillary story needs to be? I’m there.

    • From the stuff I’ve seen, these last two issues appear to be King’s best Batman issues. Seems to still have the problems built into the run after that godawful letter, but much better.

      I only know this second hand, as most of the pages I’ve seen are about Bruce and Selina together, but what I’ve heard about the resolution of the Catwoman murder plotline is really disappointing though. Despite my problems with the rest of Rebirth, I did approve of that. It was unexpected, new and rooted in character – everything Rebirth isn’t. But this reveal seems like the most obvious answer to the question of what really happened.

      And more importantly, Holly Robinson is a terrible choice. Selina is supposed to have a long history of friends suddenly being introduced so that Selina can address their sympathetic but criminal lives in a morally ambiguous way, so you didn’t need to use Holly. Because this is a terrible choice for Holly. If she isn’t rendered unusable by the need to be far, far away from everyone else, she simply loses the function she is supposed to have. Holly is supposed to be Selina’s link to the street, to her roots. The part that grounded her, and reminded her of why she became Catwoman in the first place. If Dick Grayson is Batman’s success story, Holly is Catwoman’s. Someone who bears the wounds of the street, but has managed to come out the other side. Found a girlfriend and sorted her life out, without forgetting where she came from. And, again, she was Selina’s human connection. The best friend that grounded her. So why would you take that away? And who thought that THIS was the story to tell with Holly Robinson specifically?

      And then there is the fact that this is the second time that a queer woman’s key supporting cast member has been villainised, fundamentally changing the dynamic in such a way that the ability to write solo stories that give them independence, in a story about defining that queer woman in closer proximity to Batman. A highly specific thing to happen twice.
      Of course, Catwoman will always be closely connected to Batman in a way that Batwoman isn’t. But Catwoman and Batman have always worked best when their relationship is balanced by their independent lives outside of it. So setting fire to one of the key parts of Selina’s independent life is not a good strategy. And that is ignoring all the problems of removing the independence of queer female characters to further define them as a straight white male’s supporting cast. Twice. Urgh

      • Just to prove I can be constructive in my criticism of Rebirth, how much better would this have been if they used Maggie Kyle? You still have a recognizable name, but one that works. Instead of the sister Selina never had, you use the sister Selina actually has, but never bonded with. Selina still loves Maggie, and would do anything for her. And I feel that Selina sacrificing herself for Maggie instead of Holly would be more complex. It doesn’t say much that Selina would do anything for Holly, but the fact that she is just as prepared to do the same with Maggie creates nuances.

        She also traditionally serves a similar purpose as Holly does here. Maggie’s purpose has always been about the stuff Selina lost, even before Relentless. And Relentless evolved that idea to represent Selina’s Great Failure. In here, the failure was that the skills she taught Holly to help her survive lead her to great darkness and the executioners chair. In Relentless, Selina getting over her head during her mission to clean up the East End leads to Maggie’s loss of sanity. Maggie is the perfect character for such a thing

        The other advantage is that, unlike Holly who is rendered unusable, Maggie is probably more usable. Maggie on the run, has more ability to be usable in stories than Maggie in a mental health facility.

        Character that actually fits the purpose, would provide Selina greater nuance and will increase story possibilities instead of decrease them. Wouldn’t Maggie be so much better?

  2. I like the continuity approach that King took with Batman 15 but there’s something about this Catwoman/Batman relationship that makes me wince – I still can’t stand the “Cat” and “Bat” pet names. Also: “The night, Alfred. The night. She stole the night.” YIKES

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