I first started reading DC comics, after being a 2000AD reader for a long while, when I read Judgment on Gotham
. I'd always had a soft spot for Batstuff; the Keaton Batman was one of the first films I went to see with friends rather than parents; reading the comics just seemed to be a natural step. I didn't really know where to start, given that American comics are very different in structure from British ones (What do you mean you only get part of one story per comic? 2000AD has at least 5!)
but I dived in, picking up trades and floppies willy nilly and absorbing the stories and characters as I went.
I went through Knightfall and all the fallout from it; I have a signed first issue of The Long Halloween; I was pretty immersed in the Batverse for a long time. Then I got a house and other things took over my finances and I became all sensible and grown up...
tempted me back into comics fandom the last couple of years, the three comics I got without fail and with gleeful excitement for every issue were Birds of Prey, Secret Six, and Batgirl. And I think from just me saying that, you can see where this is heading. I'm a huge fan of Gail Simone's writing, and I really love the respect she treats her characters with, but there's a but coming up in this sentence, and it's a biggie.
I've already talked a lot about how I love Bryan Q Miller's run on Batgirl, I adore Steph Brown, and I love the way she never, EVER lets the bastards grind her down. I've talked a lot less about the pivotal role Oracle played in both Batgirl and BoP. See, for the entire length of time I have been reading American comics, Barbara Gordon has been Oracle. She's been proof that being female, being in a wheelchair, being ginger, even, do not prevent you from basically running the whole crimefighting scene in Gotham. You can nurture the morals and talent of others (as she did with Steph, but also Proxy and so many more) and you can become someone that even Batman himself can't do without.
Now Barbara Gordon is just another cape in a city full of capes.
And I've tried, I really have. I don't like deserting the output of one of the few female creators in comics, and so I have persevered and given it 6 issues. But it's not working for me. Putting Barbara Gordon back in a Batsuit, no matter how sparkily and beautifully Gail writes her, is an editorial decision to put her back in her place for being an uppity woman who got too much power. It shafts Steph at the same time, and that makes it doubly wrong. So I'm taking Batgirl off my list. It's not Gail's fault, and I really want to stress that. Her dialogue and characterisations are as awesome as ever. It's just "Woman put back in her place" is not a story I want to read right now, especially not with all the Killing Joke flashbacks and PTSD. Oracle BEAT PTSD and it made her stronger. Why does Barbara have to go through all that again? The only narrative purpose it serves is to show that women are feeble, and again, that's not something I want to read right now.
So I've emailed Terri at Reed Comics (yes, my comic dealer is a girl too - so much for girls not being into comics *rolleyes)
and told her to take Batgirl off my list. And when Kelly Sue DeConick's reboot of Ghost
comes out, I'll be adding that instead.
Just for total clarity on the DC front I'm also dropping Green Lantern Corps, which may as well be called Green Lantern Corpses, and Batman: The Dark Knight which I only got in the first place because it had TwoFace on the cover, and it's been supremely dull in that specially violent way that some comics have. But I am keeping Batwoman, which has been consistently brilliant, and is the one DCnU comic I would call an essential, Voodoo, Justice League Dark, Nightwing and... Suicide Squad. Because Suicide Squad is bloody awful, but I'm enjoying it anyway. I am a bad bad feminist.
One day I might blog some more about British comics, it's just that they don't tend to annoy me as much as the American ones, they just continue on being quietly brilliant, so I don't get the urge to type up long rants about them... But you should all totally get The Phoenix
if you know anybody 8-12 and FORCE them to read it, because it's amazing.
Oh yeah, and while I'm a DC, largely for the incidental reason pointed out above, that there was a Batman/Dredd crossover, my daughter is totally turning out to be a Marvel. She loves Xmen, no doubt, but she totally ADORES Thor. To the extent that she's made a Heroes of Might and Magic game map based on the Thorverse. I suspect that this is because her first exposire to him was the Brannagh movie, which has marvellous strong, intelligent female characters. DC might want to pay attention to that. Just sayin...