Monday, September 12, 2016

Don't Read Supergirl, Read Batgirl

I’m kind of done with Marvel comics for awhile. The constant reliance on huge crossovers has me so disappointed and frustrated that I’m just leaving them alone for awhile. But I still love my superheroes, and by all accounts, DC’s Rebirth (not a reboot) rebranding has been pretty good. So, even though most of what I read by (and about) DC comics during the New 52 was somewhat less-than-stellar, I decided to give them a try. Two books, however stand out to me.

First of all, I want to talk about Supergirl.

Supergirl was given a major overhaul in the New 52 relaunch. I don’t know a lot about what she was before New 52 aside from her death in Crisis on Infinite Earths in the 80’s. I do know that the character has kicked around here and there since that time. But in New 52, she came crashing to Earth all over again, and woke up not knowing the language, not knowing where she was or what happened, or why she had crazy new powers, and solved most of her problems by screaming at them or punching them.


I didn’t hate what I read of it, but it was a little frantic, at least the first two volumes. She has a lot of teenage angst, which I would guess anyone would in her situation.

Anyways, towards the end of her New 52 run, the CBS show Supergirl began to air, and it was entirely different. This Kara Zor-El crashed to Earth ostensibly to protect her (then infant) cousin Kal-El at a younger age than the New 52 comic, and was raised by a caring human host family. This Kara, while still something of a fish out of water, is not nearly as intense as the New 52 version. In fact, she is closer to Superman than to her latest incarnation in comics.

Seems more heroic.

Enter DC’s Rebirth. Now Kara is living with a host family, something like what is presented to us in the show. She is still trying to fit into a human world (moreso than in the TV show) but seems to be much more even-tempered than in the New 52, even if she does make rash decisions. I read the Supergirl Rebirth one-shot, which bridges the gap between New 52 runs and the first issue of the new ongoing series. I liked them both well enough. The art particularly in the new one is different and interesting, adopting a more cartoonish lean than the typical DC house style. This book is a nice balance between the edgy angsty New 52 Supergirl and the gee shucks idealism of the CBS show.

I wonder if they are trying to be more like the TV show.

There is just one small problem: The credits page

This book is created by an all-male staff, from the letterers and inkers to the writer and artist, all the way to the line editor one Eddie Berganza. If you read comics and haven’t heard this name, the guy is basically a serial harasser. And rather than relieve him of his duties as the line editor of Superman books (which also contain Wonder Woman by the way) DC simply keeps women out of that line. Women writers and artists aren’t hired to work on Super books at all because I guess this guy can’t help himself? Why punish him when it’s easier to continue to not hire women creators? So Supergirl does not, and will not for the foreseeable future have any women working with her in comics. None. Not even a chance.

As much as I liked the Supergirl book, I can’t help but look at that credits page and shake my head and feel bad for even buying the thing. I’m pretty sure I won’t be getting any more of them even if it received all the critical acclaim ever. My only solace is that I did not add it to my pull list, and the comics shop did not order any extra for me. (The direct market is another animal altogether).

Now Contrast Supergirl with Batgirl and the Birds of Prey.

I loved what DC did with Batgirl towards the end of the New 52 run. The Batgirl of Burnside run with Babs Tarr on art, and Brendan Fletcher and Cameron Stewart writing was great fun. I didn’t grab any issues of the Batgirl Rebirth run because I just couldn’t imagine anyone but Tarr on art for it, and plus I hadn’t been reading much DC.

Babs Tarr is a gift.

On a Whim (the same day I picked up Supergirl, in fact) I grabbed the Batgirl and the Birds of Prey Rebirth one-shot, and Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #1. They tell an intriguing story that comes right out of the New 52 run of both Batgirl and Grayson, both of which were great series when I was reading them.

How could you not?


AND Batgirl and the Birds of Prey (BBoP) Has an all women creative team. The writing duo of Julie and Shawna Benson, and art by Claire Roe. (The art btw, is amazing. Claire isn’t Babs Tarr, but she’s doing her own thing and I love it). OK, to be fair it isn’t all-female (There are also inkers and colorists, etc), but these are the main creative voices of the book. To have an all-female superteam being written and drawn by a (mostly) all-female creative team is a good thing, and is still, sadly, a rare find in the big two comic publishers.

It also happens to be a really great book.

So If I had to choose between the two, I will continue to read BBoP and will drop Supergirl because I can’t. I just can’t ignore the injustice being perpetrated by DC in its Superman line. Now, to be fair, Wonder Woman’s art is partly being drawn by Nicola Scott, so I guess either things are relaxing a bit, or they’ve separated WW from the Superman line, but that doesn’t change the fact that Eddie Berganza continues to have a job at DC comics.

I will do my miniscule part to support female-lead books in BBoP, and maybe will start reading Batgirl which is written by Hope Larson. And I hope more comic readers will follow suit. The only way to make the big publishers understand is by hitting them in the wallets.

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