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Jason’s Corner: Surrounded by Scantily Clad Women

I spent the night with five scantily clad women. A blonde, two brunettes, and two redheads. There was a whip, some rope, and one of them was a lesbian. Come to think of it, maybe two of them were.

 Now that’s what I call a teaser. Pretty exciting until you figure out that I was just reading issue one of Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Batwoman, Batgirl, and Supergirl. But come on, really. Anyone who actually spends a night with the above is likely to either be delusional or riddled with syphilis. Or both. So I’ll stick to comics, thank you.

Do I enjoy reading these comics because the women are beautifully drawn? I am a heterosexual male. So, yes. But I was truly, actually, undeniably, indubitably reading these particular books because I was hoping the reboot of the DC titles would yield a modern, intelligent interpretation of female protagonists. Honest!

So this review is NOT going to argue which of the female titles is the sexiest. That’s just as ludicrous as this article’s teaser.

Comic books will be forever voyeuristic in their portrayal of women. Sex sells and men do most of the buying. Since many of the men doing the buying of comics have had, shall we say, limited contact with the ladies, covers will inevitably portray absurdly-proportioned-women in skin-tight clothing. While, as stated clearly above, I am a heterosexual male and thus enticed by the female figure, I need a story with depth and a character with development beyond her double-D cup size. So this review takes the five women title characters and evaluates them based upon story and character.

Below you will find a brief description of the typical portrayal of the title character, followed by how she is portrayed in the New 52.

Wonder Woman #1 

Too...many...phallic symbols!

What comes to mind? Amazon, lasso of truth, strong but often portrayed as frigid (unless you’re Frank Miller, who turns everyone into a whore).

What did I find? This is not your father’s Wonder Woman. You won’t find her being tied up twelve times in one storyline (this used to be her weakness). No, this Wonder Woman wields a sword and even severs a centaur’s arm with it. I like that her new costume is more armor than underwear. I love how she towers over the mortal woman in the Zola story. My favorite part, though, is when Zola calls her Wonder Woman, she corrects her with “Diana.”

She’s still a fairly vanilla character. I’m not sure if she will continue to be as cold and aloof as she has been frequently portrayed (because for some reason being strong means being unemotional). But she does spout one line of witty humor and shows a little bit of warmth in her concern for Zola and the god Hermes. I am willing to see how Brian Azzerello will develop her character. I keep waiting for a Wonder Woman who is strong without being stoic.

As for the story, I am very excited about the modern adaptation of Greek mythology. It reminds me of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods where the ancient gods walk among us. I am a mythology nerd so I instantly recognized Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s incarnation of Apollo, the three oracles, Hera, and Hermes. I also enjoyed the gruesome violence in that it harkened back to the gore of the original myths. Hera decapitates a horse so that it might be transformed into a centaur. Wonder Woman, like Thor, needs to be firmly rooted in her origin mythology. I just hope, like the film version of Thor, that her character is flawed and thus interesting. I give it 3 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

Catwoman #1

What comes to mind? Um, leather and whips. Femme fatale. Sexual empowerment. NOT Halle Berry.

Diamonds are a cat's best friend.

What did I find? The comic opens with a four page sequence of Selina Kyle in a red bra furiously (and ineffectively) putting on her costume. The first four panels don’t even show her face – nothing but boobs front and center and brightly highlighted by that red pushup. Do you like Victoria Secret catalogs? Do you fantasize that your girlfriend (real or imaginary) beats you up? Have you fantasized about breaking into a girl’s apartment and then emerging from the dark corner so that you can seduce her? Well then subscribe to this title, creeper. Just make sure you stay in your basement and outside of the 200 yard radius of any schools.

Me? I’ll pass. I like Catwoman as the femme fatale – mysterious and threatening not because of her whip and cleavage but because of her self confidence. For some reason, when she is the central character, writers replace the femme fatale with a girl-gone-wild, lingerie model who has daddy issues. I’ll go to Comic Con and find that aplenty, thank you.  I give it 2 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

Supergirl #1

What comes to mind? Superman’s little sister. I know she’s his cousin, but you get the point. She’s Superman in the petite. Heck, Tim Daly even had her sporting a costume you could find in the juniors section of a department store. Lately she was sexed up to resemble a cheerleader from the XFL, but she was still the pink version of the Last Kryptonian.

What did I find? I was excited to hear that Supergirl was going to be ticked to find herself on Earth. What a fantastic contrast to the blue boyscout. Plus, the teenage angst and alienation (pun intended) works. I was ready for a Supergirl who would kick some butt and not just be the sorority version of Supes.

However, the first issue presents us with a Supergirl who is confused and lost. She does kick some butt but more so accidentally right up until guess who shows up. Not much of a change here. As for her costume, she’s traded in the mid-drift shirt cheerleader mini-skirt combo for a cooler cape and S shield theme. Apparently it’s okay for Supergirl to sport red underwear. And apparently this costume is what all Kryptonian’s wear after graduation. Hey, beats the cap and gown! That does nothing for my figure.

Overall, this series is going to get better as Supergirl moves further away from being helpless and hopefully she won’t be so dependent on Superman as she has been in all the previous incarnations.  I give it 3 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

Batwoman #1

She sure knows how to accessorize.

What comes to mind? Lesbian. Honestly, that’s about it. I don’t know much about this character before this incarnation and this is the first issue I’ve read where she doesn’t simply make a cameo. Before this, she was nothing more than a love interest for Batman with a ridiculous costume that even included a purse.

What did I find? The art of this book is magnificent and wickedly stylish. The storyline is creepy and mysterious. It delivered exactly what the promo said it would. My only complaint is that it was choppy. Now, I really despise when a first issue spends too much time with exposition. I wasn’t expecting any kind of origin story. But I felt like I was missing too many pieces. If you want new readers, they can’t feel like they’re out of the loop as much as I did in this book. If Batman #1 can take the time to introduce each villain and supporting character through the narrative cells, then why can’t this book find a better way to imply the necessary exposition. All I’m sure of is that Batwoman and Montoya were lovers and now the new detective has the hots for her too. I felt like I needed that intro page that Marvel copies and pastes into every one of their books.

The art is enough for me to give this a few more issues to fill in the blanks for me.  I give it 3 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

Batgirl #1

What comes to mind?  Barbara Gordon. I prefer red-heads to blondes any day, and please just keep that creepy Batgirl without a face. She gave me nightmares.

Now that's Batgirl!

What did I find? A brilliant reincarnation that paid perfect tribute to the strength of Oracle while rewarding all of Barbara’s fans who have been clamoring to see her dawn the cape and cowl again. This was the best of all the female titles. Perhaps this is because it was written by Gail Simone, a woman. Batgirl, especially when she became Oracle, has always been a strong female character without abandoning her femininity. She is intelligent, tough, and fun. She’s sexy without being lascivious.

This is, of those I have read so far, the best of all the DC New 52 titles. The first thing DC did right was not to erase Barbara’s history as Oracle. Now that she’s again bounding across rooftops, she’s both excited and concerned about her physical recovery. In her first fight scene she exclaims, “Oh, yes. Feeling a creep under my feet. I didn’t even know how much I missed it.” She mentions that she was lucky taking out the first criminal but then takes pride in the upper arm strength she’s gotten from her years of being in a wheelchair. These criminals are not any two-bit thieves either. They’re ruthless mass murderers. It’s therapeutic that she is able to stop these four “monsters” (they’re dressed in retro Halloween masks) who are breaking into homes and shooting people.

Batgirl is back and kicking butt. However, she hasn’t completely healed psychologically from the trauma of being the victim of her own “brutal home invasion.” In the end of this issue, Batgirl is psychologically paralyzed when The Mirror is pointing his gun in the exact same place as the Joker had when she was physically paralyzed. The best characters are those with internal conflicts. Having Batgirl suffering from post-traumatic stress is a brilliant move.  I give it 5 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

I've been a comic nerd since Spider-man and his Amazing Friends and the Super Friends. So someone please explain to me, when did Aquaman become so cool? Also, why isn't She-Hulk in more media?

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