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Starfire as portrayed here is porn for kids. You know what I mean. Feh.
October 7, 2011 4:19 PM   Subscribe

Jim Shooter, the comics writer and former Marvel Editor-in-Chief has weighed in on DC's comic relaunch, The New 52. Shooter is no stranger to controversy regarding his tenure at Marvel and has received his share of criticism over his handling of female characters. He also claims his analysis is more about the writing and artwork but nevertheless, he has added this comment to the chorus of complaints about the handling of DCs female characters and female fans:

"But, let it be known, personally, I didn’t like the way the female characters were portrayed. It’s not that I think that there is anything, any situation or any type of character, male or female, that cannot be done if it is done with rare excellence and surpassing skill. The problem is that, too often, comic book writers and artists who belong in creator kindergarten think they’re already Ph.D’s."


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Conclusions
posted by happyroach (41 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Pointless pedantry is not a good jumping off point. Are you really making a worthwhile point when you pull someone up for the term 'existing readers' on the basis that all readers exist? Shooter is a hack writer.
posted by biffa at 4:28 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


On the other hand, amongst the duds there's some great comics and DC is heavily outselling Marvel for the first time in FOREVER.
posted by Artw at 4:39 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Previously
posted by benzenedream at 4:48 PM on October 7, 2011


This reminds me to go back and finish up my complete Giffen/DeMatteis run of Justice Leagues. That is some good, fun, entertaining and emotionally involving comics. Batman (more of a super-man than Superman) screwing Catwoman (the young, tight, kinky ultra-goth) on a rooftop is what you think about when you are drunk and horny.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:52 PM on October 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


On the other hand, amongst the duds there's some great comics and DC is heavily outselling Marvel for the first time in FOREVER.

Fucking Animal Man is just ... insane. And I'm talking beyond Grant Morrison insane.

And that's pretty fucking insane.

I hope they establish some sort of DCNu history though. Especially now it's been stated that NO "Crisis" events have taken place in the DCNu.
posted by PapaLobo at 4:53 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I see he;s focused exclusively on those two comics and, weirdly, a Scott Snyder Batman that received pretty well by, seemingly, everyone but him. I dunno, Jim Shooter arriving late to the pile on and being relentlessly negative about EVERYTHING doesn't really make me think less of DC, and I like to think I've said enough about that whole Starfire/Catwoman business, but it does make me think less of Jim Shooter.
posted by Artw at 4:53 PM on October 7, 2011


Perhaps this is just my Earth-C bigotry showing through, but I'm pretty sure that readers from Earth-C-Minus don't exist.
posted by Flunkie at 4:56 PM on October 7, 2011


Fucking Animal Man is just ... insane. And I'm talking beyond Grant Morrison insane.

It's really quite something, isn't it? And it kept getting better with #2... I liked #1 of Swamp Thing but #2 really suffers from comparison with this and for trying to copy Alan Moore and falling short.

Action Comics #2 is just fantastic. Even if you ignored the entire rest of the DC52 thing (and you could, really, easily) Morrison is writing a great Superman story there.
posted by Artw at 4:57 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fucking Animal Man

Please tell me that's the name of one of the new DC superheroes.
posted by The World Famous at 5:01 PM on October 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


I think Shooter makes some fair comments. Generally, I agree with his assessments, even knowing that Shooter is biased.

As mentioned, Red Hood was difficult to follow in the beginning because of the choppy weird panels, even though the artwork is very nice. And I also had a big question mark when I saw that Starfire blew up an entire army including tanks. Why in the world does she need a gun-toting Batman and a guy with a bow and arrow? I chalk all of that up to poor storytelling in exchange for drawing really cool looking shit. I think that Mark Millar might have rubbed off on them the wrong way.

I have read most of the New 52, and I agree that we needed these comics to be entry points. Some succeeded, but most really required me to have access to wikipedia to figure out what was going on and who was who. Some rubbed me the wrong way but I'll give another chance (most Batman titles, and Action Comics), some rubbed me the right way (Animal Man and Batgirl). Most were kind of meh, or they were just bad (the Legion stuff is over my head, or something).

I want DC to succeed, not because I like DC, but because I love reading awesome comic books.
posted by jabberjaw at 5:02 PM on October 7, 2011


This reminds me to go back and finish up my complete Giffen/DeMatteis run of Justice Leagues. That is some good, fun, entertaining and emotionally involving comics.

Those were, and still are, some of my favorite comics ever, and the standard i rate others against. I loathe that it's almost impossible to find that level of fun in comics today.

Action Comics #2 is just fantastic.

No joke. Not sure where it's going, but is really doing a great job with the Superman character and all.

It's really quite something, isn't it? And it kept getting better with #2...

Animal Man is awesome, reminds me of older Vertigo, just insane and you have no clue what to expect, but it's fun so you follow along.

All in all, i'm reading them all, all 52 for at least the first four issues now. Some are amazing fun, others utter duds, and most in the middle. The big trouble i have now is that most were clearly not planned to be reboots or first issues, and just kept on trucking through what came before. This bombs for some (Legion of Superheroes, which needed a reboot badly) and is okay for others (the Green Lantern books, since a lot of the readers of it probably read from earlier issues anyways). Basically it just feels kind of half assed, like they wanted to reboot some and just decided to number them all from number 1.

I'm not a huge fan of Shooter, but he does make some good points, things only someone who has worked in the industry so long would notice. Catwoman and Red Hood were really atrocious, and while Batman was one of the much better ones, his complaints about the layout were valid.

One thing that has depressed me though, is what i'm seeing in comments on various sites to women getting offended at the portrayals. One of the worst was a guy who went on a rant that "women don't even buy comics, so why even bother trying to not offend them, they will never buy comics anyway." (not really a quote, but you get the idea, and i left out a lot of really bad language he used) Those people that reinforce the worst of the Comic Book Guy stereotype. :P
posted by usagizero at 5:13 PM on October 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


If you're loving Jeff Lemire's Animal Man, make sure you're checking out his Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE, too. That was the best $2.99 I spent in years.

I had more to say about the half-assedness of the editorial stewardship of the New 52, but on preview, usagizero nailed it.
posted by KingEdRa at 5:25 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think that Mark Millar might have rubbed off on them the wrong way.

Too much rubbing off seems to be the main complaint about this new DC line.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:37 PM on October 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Okay, usually I step up to the plate to defend this shit. All good fun, readers want T&A, blood-and-guts-and-gore, etc.

Here... What can I say but "wow", and not in a good way?
posted by pla at 6:00 PM on October 7, 2011


I don't think Millars self conscious shock tactics is the model here, it's more 90s-Extreme-To-The-Max image and marvel X-Title stuff. Everything is angry teenager-tastic.

And that's only some of the titles... Primarily the ones that seem heavily associated with Dan Didio and Geoff Johns. There's also this whole other strand of comics that resemble the more obscure weirder titles that got folded into Vertigo, but before they seperated from the DCU.

Then you have an odd scattering of titles that seem like actual honest reboots - Wonder Woman, for instance. I guess Action Comics could roll into that category but it's almost like a stand alone story set in it's own version of the DCU.
posted by Artw at 6:18 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Legion of Superheroes, which needed a reboot badly
I actually liked the re-introduced (with The Lightning Saga) pre-Crisis (on Infinite Earths) pre-Flashpoint Legion LESS than I did when I was a kid, though I did like the Legion of Three Earths quite a big.

I very much enjoyed some of the later iterations of the Legion, most especially the "Legion Lost" era and Waid and Kitson's run on it. That run was funny and somewhat sexy, which is ironic because that's what Shooter introduced sexy (along with Dave Cockrum) to the Legion back in the day. When he came back to the series, briefly after Waid/Kitson, I dropped the book like a hot potato. It was AWFUL. Haven't picked it up post-Flashpoint, but probably will at some point.

So far though, Action Comics, Animal Man and The Flash are my favorites of what I've read thus far. I just want to see how it all hangs together.

And I want the god damned mother fucking Justice Society back.
posted by PapaLobo at 6:42 PM on October 7, 2011


They'll be back. This winter, I think?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:47 PM on October 7, 2011


What the Joker Was Doing Naked - Attempting to explain the DC Comics reboot
posted by Artw at 7:20 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I actually liked the re-introduced (with The Lightning Saga) pre-Crisis (on Infinite Earths) pre-Flashpoint Legion LESS than I did when I was a kid, though I did like the Legion of Three Earths quite a big.

I was a huge Legion fan, my favorite era was that odd "Five Years Later" bit that Giffen did, that has basically been cast out. Always did love that the title just went crazy with the amount of super heros, and had such potential. What bummed me out was that while Legion Lost wasn't so bad, and kind of a decent starting point, although with "who are these people?", the regular Legion was just so confusing and felt like i got dropped in mid stream. (besides the strange logic of pretending to just be crashed teens, while wearing a huge Legion logo on your costume, that the guards don't even notice. heh)

Maybe i'm just bitter they weren't better, as i worry those books that don't sell or review well will get axed before they can get better.

And I want the god damned mother fucking Justice Society back.

As mentioned above, they do seem to be on the way later.

I keep forgetting to mention, why is O.M.A.C. not getting the love?? It's one of the worst sellers but just so fun. Yeah, a bit of a Kirby lovefest, but it's really unique feeling amoung the 52 and fun so far.
posted by usagizero at 7:36 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


DC tops Diamond's sales rankings, all 52 titles in the top 100
posted by Artw at 8:00 PM on October 7, 2011


I loved, lovedlovedloved the LoSH Reboot - in the early '90s. Clean-yet-complex-teens fighting filthy, sexy evil on a cosmic scale. Tight writing, architect-precise art. Matter Eater Lad as the slacker come-from-behind kid!

Then they done rebooted it again. And again. And yet again, once more. And then after that...

Bleah.

I'm looking for a re-entry point into comics, but the New 52 is looking a lot like "The Death of Superman" imposed on all their titles at once. No go.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:10 PM on October 7, 2011


Excuse me perhaps this is the wrong time to ask but I get an offering emailed once or twice a week from something called comixology. I scan it over though I am unclear why. As near as I can understand, the organization/company is offering to sell me digital comic books. But they are $3.99 a piece.

Presuming that people are spending $3.99 for a digital comic book, my question is this:

Really??

If I I may, I suppose I have a necessary follow-up to the first question:

Why?
posted by Mike Mongo at 10:05 PM on October 7, 2011


I got a bunch of #1 after dropping all my dc titles ten years ago. I was so disappointed. The only one I will bother getting #2 on will be Justice League. Now, the first issue bad literally zero female characters. If #2 or #3 pulls cheesecake, then I'm out for good.
posted by bq at 10:26 PM on October 7, 2011


First of all, my apologies about the formatting.

Usagizero, that's exactly why I posted his critique; Jim Shooter isn't an indy comics guy, he's not a feminist writer, not an outsider. So his analysis to me has the feeling of Ray Kroc looking at a new Jack in the Box menu and saying "Woah, that's messed up!".

Also, i'm not at all surprised by the misogynistic comments. Considering the negative reception, defensiveness was to be expected,.and the fans' attitude seems to match the creators. It's annoying as hell of course to have to point out time and time again that hell yes women read comics- the success of manga in penetrating bookstores shows there's nothing about the medium that's anti-women.

Artw, that's my feeling as well about the reboot- very consciously 90s retro, like they were trying to channel Image and Vertigo, and instead for the most part got Top Cow. I think it's a deliberate attempt to appeal to the fans from that era, and at least temporarily seems to be working.

I have to confess, I don't read physical comics very often anymore; a while ago I got turned off by what I saw as an increasingly cynical and bitter attitude on the part of the artists, coupled with a sexist maturity level aimed at stereotypical early-20so male, where "adult" was confused with "mature". It got to the point where I began thinking that maybe the animated Justice League wasn't as explicitly adult as the comics, but it seemed at least as mature.

I mostly read webcomics these days, which isn't a very superhero-heavy medium. And the superhero webcomics I do read (Magellen, Special School, Spinerette, The Class, Variations) aren't all that typical of standard fare. Which is why I am curious about the reactions of a "standard superhero comics" professional.
posted by happyroach at 10:40 PM on October 7, 2011


Mike Mongo, I have no idea. I've been buying the printed versions of what issues I've read from the new DC offerings, but for the most part, I buy comic books in their collected trade paperback editions.

Comic books, to me, have and always will be about turning the page to see what's next. It's just not the same with a digital comic. As to comixology, I gather it's the Amazon or whatever of digital comic books, but I believe you can purchase digital comics direct from the publisher for $2.99 -- same as in town.
posted by PapaLobo at 10:44 PM on October 7, 2011


/works on new issue of Archer & Armstrong, and EVERYTHING ELSE I THOUHT WOULD BE PUBLISHED FOREVER JUST BECAUSE IT WAS GOOD. Thanks, Jim Shooter, you fucking weirdo.
posted by yerfatma at 11:01 PM on October 7, 2011


"Internet, here we come!"
posted by straight at 11:02 PM on October 7, 2011


I am a girl. I like comics. I only liked-to-the-point-of-being-willing-to-buy 4 of the new 52 (Animal Man, Frankenstein, Action Comics, JLI 50% (for Booster Gold), Swamp Thing 50%). Obviously my opinion means nothing compared to Shooter's, but hey, this is a discussion about comics.
posted by subbes at 1:03 AM on October 8, 2011


Subbbes, I'm not sure; am I supposed to start barking at you now?
posted by happyroach at 1:24 AM on October 8, 2011


I... don't think cockroaches bark?
posted by subbes at 1:26 AM on October 8, 2011


They do if you leave them at home all day with no toys, they get bored and go mad.
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:10 AM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Presuming that people are spending $3.99 for a digital comic book, my question is this:

Really??

If I I may, I suppose I have a necessary follow-up to the first question:

Why?


A lot of my friends who read comics now get them through DCBS online, a lot of times half off. The biggest troubles being you have to order three months ahead or so, and it doesn't help the decline of the local comic book store. They also charge you about a month ahead of when they ship. I do feel digital should be cheaper, as there isn't a cost to print and ship, but i'm guessing that's because they don't want to threaten their other customers who sell comics. I won't post a link to this, but every single new release is out there on the internet days after it hits stores to download for free, this i don't agree with at all. I do wish though that if you buy the physical comic, you should get at least a huge discount on the digital.

I am a girl. I like comics...Obviously my opinion means nothing compared to Shooter's

I wouldn't say that, different views probably, but both valid and worth voicing. In fact i'm thinking yours is the opinion that actually matters more to how books sell. My ex liked comics a lot, but tended to get put off by mainstream ones and how she got treated in comic shops. She liked superhero comics less, preferring ones like Blue Monday and other independents, but tried a good deal of DC and Marvel.
posted by usagizero at 5:44 AM on October 8, 2011


I will add that it felt increibly validating to read that commentary. I have been reading comics for 30 years and I still sometimes think it must be me.
posted by bq at 6:42 AM on October 8, 2011


I do feel digital should be cheaper, as there isn't a cost to print and ship, but i'm guessing that's because they don't want to threaten their other customers who sell comics.

It's hard not to feel -- and I say this as someone who is friends with many comics retailers -- that the industry is deliberately crippling itself by not offering day-and-date simultaneous print/digital release on everything it publishes, and the only reason it doesn't is because it'd pretty much be a death sentence for the comics shop. A lot of people are saying now that they'd never read digital comics, and admittedly the switch is less like paper-book-to-Kindle/Nook than silver-screen-to-TV-screen...or even TV-screen-to-phone. But people are making that switch, because while some things are lost convenience is gained, and I think they'll make that switch when it comes to comics, too. If I were a comics retailer, now is when I would be trying to figure out how I could diversify my store or sell it. I'm not saying that with any great enthusiasm, because if I've learned anything in the last few years of American life, it's that when God closes an economic window, if He opens a door it's a really fucking tiny door that no one can see and if they happen to find it they can probably just squeeze through only to find it's a forty-foot drop through darkness into a basement filled with shiny coils of razor wire. In short, businesses closing? A bummer. But that's real life. And the publishers seem to be trying to stave that off, some of them, either because they care about retailers or because they're not sure how all of this is going to affect their own bottom line, but it's coming anyhow.

One of the things that may bring it along faster is money, by which I mean to say I would not hold my breath w/r/t the price of digital comics going down. Right now, DC (among others) is offering its new comics digitally for the same price as a paper comic book, and as much as that's them providing the seller of physical comics a kindness, it's also an interesting bit of market research for the publisher. To wit: Will people pay the same for a digital comic book as they would for a physical comic book? Unless I am mistaken, DC's still not released official figures for their new series in digital form, but my guess is that the digital sales are very strong. The reader says: "Hey, you're saving on print and shipping costs...these books should be cheaper!" The publisher says: "Hey, we're saving on print and shipping costs, and holy shit the books are the same goddamned price!" Look at how long the $9.99 Kindle book lasted.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:05 AM on October 8, 2011


Traditionally at this point publishers point to all kinds of costs other than printing.
posted by Artw at 8:42 AM on October 8, 2011


I know that there's been a lot of revisionist opinions on Shooter in certain comics circles because of his blogging and general 80s nostalgia, but it's always important to remember what he actually did when he had some power; not only was there the Ms. Marvel thing (and if you're tempted to handwave that away, just imagine a similar plotline on, say, one of the Star Treks, and the subsequent firestorm that would erupt, not just in fandom but the general press; hell, imagine that being the plot of the upcoming big-name Avengers movie...), but there was also a lot of really unnecessary dicking around of creators, to the point that, when Shooter was announced as a Legion of Super Heroes writer a few years ago, a number of people at DC said that they'd quit rather than work for a company that employed Shooter, because of what he'd done two decades previously. That's not a minor intra-office squabble. It doesn't matter if he came up with the miniseries or whatever if he treats the best talent in comics like disposable, interchangeable Legos.

And speaking of talent: There have been some good books coming out of the DC reboot, yes, but that shouldn't be surprising; I've liked what I've seen of Batwoman so far, but it's long overdue, and I knew that I wanted to follow J.H. Williams III's work ever since he did Promethea with Alan Moore. The objections to Starfire and Catwoman seem to be not just that their portrayals are horribly sexist and out of character, which they are, but that they're horribly fan-ficcy; really, if you want to see any two random comics characters screwing, you've got a whole Rule 34 site [very, very NSFW]. DC has to come up with stories that are better than the kind of thing that a spotty teenager who types one-handed can produce, because we've already got plenty of those, and they don't charge.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:05 AM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


not only was there the Ms. Marvel thing (and if you're tempted to handwave that away, just imagine a similar plotline on, say, one of the Star Treks, and the subsequent firestorm that would erupt, not just in fandom but the general press; hell, imagine that being the plot of the upcoming big-name Avengers movie...)

That's actually pretty easy to do, since Joss Whedon basically turned the pregnancy-of-Ms.-Marvel storyline into the fourth season of Angel, but never mind...
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:28 AM on October 8, 2011


It's hard not to feel -- and I say this as someone who is friends with many comics retailers -- that the industry is deliberately crippling itself by not offering day-and-date simultaneous print/digital release on everything it publishes, and the only reason it doesn't is because it'd pretty much be a death sentence for the comics shop

DC is now offering day-and-date digital comics. What that does to both LCS sales and illegal downloads will be interesting. certainly.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:22 PM on October 8, 2011


Women in Comics - The New 52 Reviewed

Possibly the most pertinant bit:
All media has a problem with diversity. Hell, all society has a problem with diversity. And when the latter is buying the former, you have to take smaller steps towards the long term goal. When DC said they wanted a more diverse DC Universe, they didn't necessarily mean that they suddenly wanted to attract women readers. But that was certainly something the fans thought they meant and the reaction at San Diego Comic Con ensured that DC knew it too. And listened. (See Women in Comics: The New 52 and the Batgirl of San Diego.)

Of course logically it makes sense. Looking at the books publishing market, women make up a huge percentage of the active buyers; percentages vary but it's almost always said to be at least 50%. So any publisher looking to attract new readers would be silly not to at least try and engage that potential market. DC later assured retailers that while their target audience was 18-54, their buying target audience was 18-34 males.

posted by Artw at 1:08 PM on October 9, 2011


Well, I got the first two issues of Animal Man on a whim today, and I guess it's something I can see myself continuing to buy (provided they stay at $3.50 a piece), but the ads every two pages really bugged me quite badly. I know comics have always been like that, but god, what a pain in the ass. And then LESS comic in #2 so I can see a "special preview" of yet another bullshit Batman story?
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:16 PM on October 9, 2011


usagizero : I won't post a link to this, but every single new release is out there on the internet days after it hits stores to download for free, this i don't agree with at all.

"OYATM".

Funny how Cuomo managed to single-handedly kill off the pirates-with-morals in the name of a crusade against porn, thereby handing the reins over to the real lowlifes.

Anything in the name of banning T&A, I guess.
posted by pla at 10:12 PM on October 9, 2011


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