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Damsels in Distress: Are DC’s leading ladies in trouble?

November 11th, 2013 by Jake Tanner Comments

All children need someone to look up to, and when I think about my favorite comic book heroes from my youth, I think of men like Batman, Superman, and Green Lantern. Men that taught me core values that I still hold onto today like perseverance, honesty, and to never give up.  Looking at my list of heroes I find myself a little troubled as I notice they’re all men. I can’t help but wonder to myself, “if my daughter starts reading comics too, who will she have to look up to?”

DC’s heroines in today’s world have hit a new low. Their books don’t usually sell well, their story lines are often bland, and they’re used as sex symbols or love interest. (Queue the gagging towards the Superman/Wonder Woman relationship). The problem isn’t a lack of depth in the history of the characters. The problem isn’t even the characters themselves. The problem is we’ve turned our favorite heroines into objects. A character like Wonder Woman is a far cry from the symbol of hope and equality that she used to be even just a few short years ago.

First and foremost, the biggest problem with women in comics is, to put it bluntly, the art. Characters like Wonder Woman are often scantily clad in overly provocative positions have become the norm in almost every book being printed by DC. Since when are women’s breasts bigger than a person’s head?  While Wonder Woman’s costume is iconic, her ‘armor’ is covering less and less as the years go by, and don’t even get me started on Power Girl. While at work the other night, I saw a group of young girls, no older than 12 or 13, dressed in skimpy clothes and strutting around. If we can’t DRAW Wonder Woman to not dress so inappropriately, how can we expect young girls not to?  Not to mention, for the men reading, when non-comic readers see us reading books with nearly-naked women, it perpetuates the nerdy-virgin stereotype, it’s a picture boys, let’s move on with our lives!

Wonder Woman’s big storyline of the New 52 thus far (aside from the Trinity War) has been her relationship with Superman. Wonder Woman should be a symbol of beauty, power, and feminine strength.  The last time she stood for ANY of those things (I’m sorry but dressing in skimpy clothes isn’t beauty) was when Gail Simone was writing her in 2011. Two years of monotony and sub-par storytelling for DC’s leading lady is far too long!

This is one subject that Marvel is inarguably destroying DC in. With books like Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel on the shelves and more titles like She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, and more on the way, Marvel has set the standard in strong female characters that DC had better be paying attention to if they have any hope of catching up. Getting a great adaptation of WW on the big screen would be a huge step in the right direction for them if done properly, but who knows if/when that will happen?

While not all of DC’s heroines are in abysmal shape, (Gail Simone still writes some of the best heroines in the industry with her work on Batgirl, Red Sonja, and the women in The Movement), Wonder Woman, Power Girl, Harley Quinn, and many other DC characters deserve better than what they’ve been given recently. This isn’t a debate about whether or not the New 52 was a good idea or not. (Stay tuned folks, we have that coming!) It’s not even a Marvel vs. DC debate. I think the sales and stories have really spoken for themselves…something needs to be done to save the heroines over at DC. We can’t all write in to their front office, but speak with your dollars. Go support the fantastic books being put out by either publisher, but if you’d like stories with a strong female lead, go support the Marvel books like Captain Marvel, She-Hulk, or any of the many others they have to offer. If they do well enough, maybe DC will get the hint and do something about this problem that just seems to be getting worse.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Who are some of your favorite characters, male or female? Put them in the comments below!

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I'm 25 years old and I'm hugely passionate about comic books and I also LOVE gaming. The birth of my daughter, Abby, rekindled my passion for comic book stories. I grew up on them and I want nothing more than to share that passion with her! I'm a pretty typical guy, I love sports. (NHL-Blackhawks, NBA-Lakers, MLB-Cubs, and NFL-Daaaa Bears!). I've been writing for a pretty big portion of my life, and I've been nominated for multiple awards for some of the poetry I’ve written! Happy reading and follow me on Twitter @xJatmanx.