Rock, paper, scissors.

Comics, completely consumed by superheroes, has only two active fandoms—Marvel and DC. Given that my budget allows for only one ongoing series and I don’t feel right illegally downloading comics, I’ll have to pick one fandom in which to participate.

I’ve chosen my comic. It’s Wonder Woman. I’ve chose my fandom. It’s DC. I feel horrible. I feel like I’ve just chosen my gender over my race.

I picked Wonder Woman because the preview pages I read intrigued me. I’ve never been a big fan of Wonder Woman, but I have been a huge fan of ancient Greek myths since I was a child. The way that Azzarello and Chiang have handled the Greek pantheon has drawn me to the book. Also, quite a few people whose opinions on comics I hold in high regard have spoken fondly about the comic. Last, but certainly not least, a new universe allows me to get in on the “ground floor” of Diana’s life. All three of these elements were necessary in Wonder Woman being the series for me. That new universe free of any history to untangle is what led me to pick Wonder Woman over Wolverine and the X-Men (which also appears to be a quality book given the previews provided).

But Idie. Oh, how I love Idie. Each snippet from Scans Daily I read featuring this character makes me want to crawl into a comic for the sole purpose of buying her toys and ice cream. The awkward and uneasy interaction between Wolverine and Oya is wonderful. (Wolverine buys the child her first doll ever and it’s white with long, straight hair? How lovably stupid. I can’t wait for Cecelia to call him on it.)

And though I haven’t been interested in the Amanda Waller role Marvel has foisted upon Misty Knight, I adore the character of Misty Knight and hold out hope that she will return to her Daughters of the Dragon incarnation in her next series—or perhaps something even more interesting. I’d gladly drop Wonder Woman for a comic featuring Misty Knight as the lead character in a female-focused series.

DC? DC doesn’t have a Misty Knight. DC does not have an Oya. Moreover, it seems as though they have no interest in developing one. And that’s why I’ve regretfully chosen gender over race. DC’s development of its female characters of color is abysmal. Though can it be abysmal if there is no development?

Unlike Marvel, black women in the DC universe are merely window dressing—objects for the actual hero(ine) of importance to struggle against or deliver a quip to. Agent Fallon, not the animalistic Voodoo, is the competent, no-nonsense heroine of Voodoo. Skitter is the unattractive, unpleasant monster who’ll skulk around Wonder Girl’s pedestal in Teen Titans. Amanda Waller is merely a supporting character providing intense action for others to engage in. The character’s role could easily be fulfilled by one panel of a Suicide Squad member listening to orders on an iPod. And though Vixen is in a better position than her peers, I certainly don’t hold out hope for the character. Look at her promotion compared to characters such as Cyborg, Batwing, Mr. Terrific, Static, and Green Lantern. If Vixen wants to be a major player in the DCU she’d better start on hormone therapy and seek out a quality surgeon.

And this goes beyond just black women. Where’s Cassandra? Where’s Talia? Where’s Rainmaker? Does anyone really believe Katana will receive the same promotion and panel time as Canary or Ivy? Does anyone believe that Element Woman will receive the same attention as Wonder Woman or even Mera? I certainly don’t. And I don’t believe they’ll receive the same attention as the Atom, Robin, or Blue Beetle either. For all the extolling of DC’s female-led ongoing books and all the talk concerning DC’s female-friendliness compared to Marvel, no one is talking about how that friendliness only extends to certain women.

So, one weighs the pros and cons and makes the best choice from what’s available. DC offers a lower price, a fresh start, an active fandom, and a quality creative team. Marvel offers an active fandom, a quality creative team, and female characters of color that play an important role in the Marvel universe. Four beats three and I opt for DC.

Yet, I can’t help but want it all.


One last reflection on Amanda Waller.

Though I truly enjoyed the old, heavy incarnation of Waller, it simply does not make sense for this Waller, the Waller displayed in the newest volume of Suicide Squad, to be heavy. There is no grief for the character to conceal. People are heavy for different reasons—many of them pointing more towards inescapable circumstances and heredity than poor life choices. However, this is not true in Waller’s case. Waller chose to be fat. Artists depicted her enjoying heavy foods and alcoholic drinks. And for a woman in a position of power, where every conceivable type of body modification was made available to her, she chose none.

Had Waller been more popular, had she been an “A-list” character in starring roles rather than a strong, supporting character, this would have been—pardon the pun—meaty material. A writer would have explored this territory in the same manner that others have explored the alcoholism of Tony Stark. Why did food and patriotism become her marks of excess? Was it a way to enjoy passion and physical pleasure without the dangers of intimacy? Love for one’s country—especially that of a black woman for America—is unrequited. And while food can be a social pleasure, how many depictions of Waller involved a table piled with platters and the company of loving friends and family? I cannot think of one. Where were Waller’s children? I’m sure they were provided with every opportunity and privilege available once Waller had achieved a position of power—save for a mother’s time and attention.

There’s a wealth of interesting stories there. But Amanda Waller is not Anthony Stark. And a grieving black woman using fat for armor, America as a shield, and food for a lover is not going to be as compelling to audiences as a fit, white playboy who uses whiskey and an inexhaustible supply of promiscuous models and debutantes. Still, I find both equally fascinating. But who cares—aside from me and a handful of other people—what the fat black woman is feeling? She endures! She is a Strong Black WomanTM!

Don’t peek behind the curtain.

That moment of loss, that kernel of grief, made the old Amanda Waller physically and emotionally, as sure as the death of Ben Reilly made Spider-Man. And now it is gone. And so should the armor go too.

Of course, what we have now is an Amanda Waller in name only—a blank slate. But this diminutive Waller could very well be an equally interesting character. It’s strange. It’s as if “Amanda Waller” was simply a title to be handed down. A new one has picked it up and we’ll see what the creative team does with her.

It’s a new universe. Anything is possible.


Another brick.

Amanda WallerIt’s not about reducing the number of visually unique characters. It’s not about sending a derogatory message regarding people who are fat. It’s not about the sexualization of all female characters.

It’s about making the decision to use a character that people are fond of—and changing the key attributes that made readers fond of the character in the first place. Listen, given how black women are devalued in the media in regards to physical attractiveness, I’m always happy to see a young, svelte, sexually attractive black woman in a popular form of entertainment. But DC’s editorial staff did not have to change the attributes of Amanda Waller in order to make that happen. Flint and Onyx are currently sitting in limbo and could have easily been adapted to assume such a role. Given Onyx’s role as a law-breaking vigilante, she could have appeared as a character within the suicide squad sans any character tweaking.

But Amanda Waller? Waller is a strategist. She uses her brain and technology, not brawn. In fact, she focuses so intently on her career and the intricate plots she so carefully constructs that she often ignores the body completely. She moves boldly into dangerous situations, blithely relying on whatever weapon she has at hand to subdue her foe. She enjoys creature comforts like good food and good drink—which has resulted in weight-related illnesses. She smart, she’s scary, and her only weakness is the fatty part of the steak.

And you know what? Fans love that about her. Fans love the fact that this insanely competent woman doesn’t fit the mold and yet is able to move men and women of steel around like chess pieces. It’s a key part of her character.

And DC’s editorial department wiped that away because Angela Bassett is thin. And that’s silly. No one expects the comic to be a carbon copy of the film. Is Perry White now black? Does Catwoman have long hair? Does Batman have brown hair instead of black? No, of course not.

To make a long story short, there is no need to change what your audience expects and is comforted by unless it will (1) improve sales and (2) make for a better story. Appealing art aside, is a thin, young Amanda Waller going to bring in more fans than she has turned off? Is she going to allow for interesting new stories that wouldn’t have been available if the character had not been changed visually? Personally, I think subtracting from Waller’s weight and age makes her a bit bland and unrealistic. What woman in her twenties would be a high-ranking government official? Plus, one now has a character that is no different from Vixen visually. This is akin to Storm and Misty Knight looking the same.

On the other hand, this small change has received a huge amount of publicity. And changing the character’s weight and age to match the characters surrounding her has now opened up the possibility for new romantic arcs. Honestly, I’m not sure how I would have handled that one. There are benefits and drawbacks to each option available.

But when it’s all said and done? I just plain miss “The Wall.”