There’s a story about Joni Mitchell I’d like to believe is true, not just because it serves it’s purpose so well as an opening for this article. So the tale goes, a journalist once asked her how she felt about being one of the best female singer/songwriters of all time. Joni got very worked up, and walked out of the interview. Her reason? She didn’t see why she had to be set apart from the male songwriters.
We see it all the time, and for some reason it’s perfectly acceptable. Women’s sports leagues, women’s fiction, women’s television channels. It always irks me when I go and pick up my copies of Vogue and Vanity Fair, they’re listed above “Women’s Magazines”. Apparently I should be reading Top Gear, FHM and Nuts. Yes really, there’s a magazine called Nuts. For men. See what they did there? (I am aggravated further that the comic books in my newsagents are under the children’s section, but that’s a whole other story).
So yes, well done to Marvel for trying to give their female characters a little boost, but let’s be serious, it’s not particularly empowering, and it’s not at all pretty. It screams of one word. Token.
Marvel Divas and Models Inc were interesting, but surely fluffy books should not be the tone set for every single female book now. Kathryn Immomen has a particular comedic style and good for her. It worked wonderfully on Hellcat, and the idea was followed on Aguirre-Sacassa’s Marvel Divas and Models Inc.
I respect Models Inc to a degree, as it was an homage to the model comics of the fifties and sixties, but where are the serious books? As fun as these books are, there’s very little repercussion and consequence within them as far as the universe as a whole goes. By the time we’re being exposed to, ugh, “X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back”, which sounds like it should have the additional subtitle of “Electric Boogaloo”, I for one am pretty fatigued.
I don’t think anything needs to be distinctive by gender, race or sexuality. It was a point of contention I ad with Milestone Comics. Did we really need that sort of self-segregation? Then Girl Comics rolls around, with it’s appalling title, an anthology created by women writers and artists. Whatever happened to Marvel Comics Presents? Can women and men not work together? What’s the problem with handing a title like X-Men or Avengers over to a writer like? It’s about time, really. The little pink sandbox stinks of head patting.
Then Heralds was announced, and I thought it was a step in the right direction, until I realised what the title implied. And the story, oh god. Yet another bunch of random female superheroes banding together for no particular reason. Are these comics even selling?
Black Widow And The Marvel Girls, please! What the hell is that? Lest we forget, Devin Grayson and JG Jones produced a beautiful miniseries that revitalised the character in an awesome way. Paul Cornell’s miniseries is nothing short of spectactular, and not getting the fanfare it deserves.
Here’s the thing, the women of Marvel are fine, and I don’t think they need women at the helm to prove anything. Bendis has done a fine job of producing and rebirthing strong females. From his very own Alias to re-shaping Spider-Woman and Ms. Marvel. Matt Fraction has done wonders on the X-Books, continuing Morrison’s fine work with Emma Frost and raising Psylocke and Dazzler back to new heights.
They keep trying to find a new Kitty Pryde in Pixie, without realising that Joss Whedon did a beautiful job crafting Armor into a strong, young female X-Man with plenty of potential. The difference being the marketing push was minimal, it relied simply on genuinely talented storytelling, the gender of the writer is not and should not be an issue.
Jodi Picoult on Wonder Woman? Ouch. Gail Simone? Genius. Yet so was George Perez. So gender has very little to do with anything, and is without validation. Greg Rucka has a particular talent for strong female leads, he’s managed to get his beloved Batwoman gracing the covers of Detective Comics, and as a lesbian character that’s a hell of a feat. The difference being he allowed all the ruckus (pardon the pun) to die down, and eventually concentrated on telling a powerful story. It’s worked out.
Of course it would be wonderful to see female writers get better writing and art gigs, and it would be fantastic if one day an all-female team came along, but there’s a million and one team names to choose from, and they don’t have to point out the characters within all have boobies.