It does not take a scholar of the comic book industry to tell you that gender representation is notoriously one-sided. Masculine figures dominate the world of comics, while female characters struggle to support their own books.
However, over the past year, we have seen a number of positive signs of change.
The new Ms Marvel series is doing better than anyone could have imagined, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is selling well, an all female X-Men team has recently hit its 25th issue and Marvel is preparing an all female Avengers team, called A-Force.
In the spirit of these positive signs, both IDW and DC Comics are throwing their hats into the ring. IDW is preparing a mini-series called Transformers: Combiner Hunters. The team will be composed of six brand new female transformers that join together to make a robot called Victorion.
At this same time, DC is launching a multi-media campaign, called Super Hero Girls. The goal of this merchandise is to promote some of DC’s most popular female heroes to a young female demographic. Such heroines featured in the first released images include Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Katana, Bumblebee (not the Transformer), Supergirl and (oddly enough) Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn.
While this hardly solves the problem of gender bias forever in the comic book industry, I feel that it is a positive stepping stone to showing the world that comics can appeal beyond its perceived demographic.
However, for these new properties to be successful, they will require the support of the publishers. In the past, attempts to diversify the line have been made, only to receive little to no support upon release. The ball is now squarely in DC and IDW’s court. From this point, it is up to them not to fumble it.