edited on 9/23/13 – I was wrong about a timeline issue. Original text kept in tact, corrections follows.
(trigger warning for multiple mentions of violence and sexual assault)
So, I saw that you thought that an art contest where the topic was a naked Harley Quinn committing suicide was an appropriate thing at any point in time. I also saw you thought it was appropriate to do this contest that trivializes suicide a week before National Suicide Prevention Week.
I saw that J. H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman are being kind, decent human beings and leaving the Batwoman title after your editorial refused to let Batwoman get married to her girlfriend Maggie Sawyer, even after Batwoman has proposed twice on panel. I saw that you’ve been saying that this move has nothing to do with Batwoman’s sexuality, that its just that you don’t want characters getting married, but wow, does that sound hollow.
I’ve seen a lot of the shitty things you’ve done over the years. I’m like Martian Manhunter watching over the world from the Justice League satellite, in a way.
I have loved the world you own for over 8 years. I have bought movies, soundtracks, action figures, comic book after comic book. I have leant trade paper backs out to friends, recommended titles for them to pick up, bought them series as gifts. I loved your Animated Universe and would watch the Batman and Justice League cartoons over and over and over. I’d invite friends over and have viewing parties where we’d watch all the Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn episodes, or the Black Canary episodes, or all the Wonder Woman ones. I have given you so much business, poured so much money into your company. I love superheroes so much.
This is just what was in one room in my apartment. Not the stuff under my bed, or the multiple posters on my walls, not the stuff at my parents’ house, not the movies I have seen multiple times in theatres. One Room. I loved your products. Like, how many people even own that shitty Justice League game? That’s a Wonder Woman picture book from the 70s. I have duplicates of most of those Demon Knights issues.
I have been a staunch supporter of your products, and I am many things besides just a Wonder Woman fan: I am a woman, I am a lesbian, and I have been suicidal at various points in my life. And you think that’s fucking funny or best swept under the rug.
I am done.
Hey DC, remember this show?
I loved Teen Titans. From middle school into high school it was my favorite show on TV. The End parts I, II, and III: Fantastic. Hide and Seek: Also Fantastic. I anxiously awaited the release of season DVDs, and then day of would rush to the store to buy them. I loved Raven and Starfire so much. The fourth season was amazing. “Coming out” as a nerd who loved this show was like a weird sort of training wheels for actually coming out. It was my first introduction to superheroes and DC. So what did I, a new consumer of DC media do? Rushed out to buy Teen Titans comics.
Do you remember, DC, what was happening in Teen Titans at the time? Oh, yeah, everyone was being brutally murdered. Superboy? Killed. Kid Devil? Killed. Pantha? A hole punched through her torso. Wildebeest? Ripped in half after watching his mother get a hole punched through her torso. Marvin and Wendy (the fucking Wonder Twins)? Eaten alive by their dog. And Miss Martian didn’t die, but you did decide that a good plot point for the most happy, innocent, and kind character was to be nearly raped in a dirty bathroom stall. Not only was this title a crass, offensive mess, it was the title that was most likely to draw new, young readers. And you decided these were appropriate narratives not just in general, but for an audience coming in to comics based off of this:
Hey DC, remember that time you killed off Spoiler/Stephanie Brown in a highly sexualized manner?
Remember how no one in her comic, not even Batman really cared about her death in any way other than to have existential man angst over it, and make the whole thing about himself? Remember how her best friend Cassandra Cain/Batgirl, the only person of color in the Bat-family just sort of disappeared from comics at the same time? Remember how fans clamored for years for you to bring back Stephanie Brown, or to apologize for the way you had killed her, or just to have someone care that she was gone? Remember how you finally brought her back, and Batman still didn’t care?
Remember when you didn’t’ kill off Icewoman, one of the few bisexual characters, but instead had a villain flay off her skin and wear it, leaving her catatonic? Remember how you just forgot she was a character? What about that time the first Batgirl was shot by Joker through the spine, leaving her paralyzed, and then the whole comic focused on Batman and her father’s existential man-pain over the event, and none of her own. Remember how she was forgotten as a character for years after that, until she finally made a comeback as Oracle in Birds of Prey? (note: the time gap between her being shot and making a comeback was only actually ~ a year. I was wrong about this part. The Executive Editorial Director at the time responded to the suggested plot point with “cripple the bitch,” so I think the larger point about disrespect for the character still stands, I was just wrong in how I got to that conclusion originally. My apologies)
Do you remember this list, DC, of women you had killed off, raped, or de-powered, women who were killed and dismembered and then stuffed in refrigerators just so a man could have existential pain over it? Women In Refrigerators. (Note: not all DC characters, not updated in years)
And, this one has stuck with me for years, I want you to know how devastating this event was for me. This title DC:
This title was one of my favorites. It was fun and light hearted, in your overwhelmingly grim and gritty universe. It had two of my favorites on the team: Mary Marvel and Fire. No one was raped, no one died. So of course, you had to ruin that too. Do you remember what you did to Sue Dibny, the un-super powered wife of The Elongated Man? You had her killed and raped for shock value, so that every male superhero in the DC universe could get together and angst over their man-pain. And you had her raped by a super villain who previously had appeared as comically inept in the Teen Titans cartoon, a show for children. You took two characters who were fun and lighthearted and made them into a rape victim and a rapist. But you couldn’t stop yourselves, could you DC. From there, you have lady-magician Zatanna try to mind-wipe Dr. Light, and of course Batman doesn’t agree with that, so you have Zatanna mind wipe him too. But it’s Batman, and you treat him like god, so he gets better from magic mind-erasure and builds the Brother MK I, a satellite meant to monitor the other superheroes, and which controls the OMACS, cyborgs mean to keep the superheroes in check. And of course, the OMACS get hijacked, and of course they go on a killing spree, and of course this results in all the Amazons, hundreds of women characters and Wonder Woman’s family being killed/spirited away to a different plane of existence/who even really knows. And Batman got like 0 real blowback for that, but the minute Wonder Woman snaps some guy’s neck to stop him from mind-controlling Superman into killing millions, she’s suddenly the bad guy. Sure.
Oh and then you decided that Mary Marvel, the heart of the DC universe, the young girl who gets zapped by lightning to become older and a superhero, who loves joy and kittens and idolizes Fire and adores Walt Disney films, should be made evil, because grim and gritty = serious, real art for adults to you.
On the topic of Batman, lets talk about the Nolan films. That was super cool how in the second one you included Police Commissioner James Gordon’s children, and had Two Face threaten to kill Gordon’s son as the ultimate act of revenge, but not his daughter, because apparently Gordon doesn’t give a shit about her. Also cool how instead of having Two Face, whose character is all about duality and works in twos, threaten both Gordon’s kids you only have him threaten his son. Because father’s don’t love their daughters as much as their sons, apparently. Or how Gordon’s son, James Jr., who me and like 5 other people knew existed as a character before that movie (and existed in some iterations as a serial killer), is the character you decide to name and use, but Gordon’s daughter is unnamed. Gordon’s daughter Barbara Gordon – who is Batgirl and later Oracle, a character central and critical to Batman’s mythology – goes unnamed. But no, James Jr. is the more important (and named) character. No one gives a shit about James Jr.
You know what else I loved about Nolan’s films? That three characters of color – Ra’s Al Gul, Talia Al Gul, and Bane – were portrayed by white actors. Whitewashing is always so great to see, we never get enough of it in Hollywood.
God, you make me hate Batman so much.
And man, do you ever hate lesbians. Batwoman not being allowed to get married is just the most recent in your serial abuses. There’s what you did to Icewoman. More than that, there’s the decades of queer baiting that never pay off. The constant hints that Fire and Ice may love each other, which only resolved itself in Ice being killed and Fire shifting her attentions to Icewoman. The continuous hints since the Animated series in the early 90s that Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn are a couple when Harley isn’t with the Joker. Harley even acknowledged that she knew Ivy loved her in a comic, which resulted in nothing. And then the reboot happened, so does that statement even exist in canon anymore?
That time that Oracle was maybe going to have a thing for Black Canary, and then it wasn’t allowed. That time that Wonder Woman’s mom, Queen Hippolyta and the captain of the guard Phillippus were going to be together and then it wasn’t allowed. That time WONDER WOMAN WAS GOING TO HAVE A GIRLFRIEND and then it wasn’t allowed, and instead Io was killed off, which you can justify with whatever you want, but really seems like it was just to make sure she didn’t get her lesbian cooties all over one of the big three. Not like you even treat Wonder Woman as equal with Batman or Superman anyways, but whatever.
Oh and now, under the New 52, you decided to break up the most iconic Superhero couple, Superman and Lois Lane, to put Superman and Wonder Woman together. What a stupid and offensive idea. Throwing Lois Lane under the bus, and desperately trying to dispel rumors of Wonder Woman’s queerness. Plus, you decided to remake the Amazons as man-killers (and maybe potential rapists), who murder boy-children, because that’s what you do with the family of a feminist icon right? Make them Rush Limbaugh’s exact fear of women who are given the right to vote. Good.
Speaking of the New 52, wow what an awful idea. Lets make comics more accessible by rebooting everything, getting rid of decades of history, and making them even more confusing in general. We’ll get rid of “superfluous” characters that no one even liked anyways (surprise! Most of them are some combination of women, queer, or people of color). The thing about superfluous characters, is that they’re generally deemed “superfluous” because they’re not men. And people loved them, how dare you just erase them from comics’ history as if we would forget.
But Kho Kharhi was my favorite Green Lantern. A Wonder Woman fangirl (channeling me, and every other Wonder Woman fan) who fought alongside her idol against family, because they were doing harm, and whose species was a big “fuck you” to traditional beauty standards.
Does she even exist anymore? I miss her.
What about Atlee, Powergirl’s almost girlfriend (again with the almost shit), the charming fish-out-of-water character who brought joy to an already fun title, and was so pumped about being a superhero and helping people.
I haven’t heard anything about her, and I loved her too.
And what about Io? Beautiful, wonderful Io, the Amazonian blacksmith who was brave and soft-spoken and strong and knew her duty, cared for Wonder Woman and was always in awe of her while still acknowledging her own worth, and never bowed before Ares or super villains. The character who should have been Wonder Woman’s girlfriend, who meant so much to me, who appeared in only a handful of pages but is one of my favorite characters of all time from any medium.
I loved her so much, and she’s just in character limbo. Does she exist, is she dead? Will she ever see Wonder Woman again?
You want to know something DC? You’re the super villain here. Your company is Doomsday. Lumbering, stupid, terrible, leaving a path of pain in its wake, killing beloved superheroes left and right. Fans like me? We’re Superman (and this is the only time I have ever identified with Superman). We’re brave and smart and powerful, and we want the world to be good and safe. We want our comics to be good and safe. And you are pummeling us down, but Superman rose up again. The Death of Superman was a stupid, and ultimately temporary move on your part. More and more fans like me are leaving, using our superpower of the dollar, withdrawing it, and warning everyone we know not to come near the radioactive toxic waste heap that is your company, that it won’t give them superpowers, only hurt them. We’re going to outlast you; whether its your company collapsing because dominant culture dudebros are not enough of a market to support your behemoth weight, or whether you pull through, get a new editorial team, or just wise up to the fact that more than just dudebros exist in the world, that people love your characters but not the way you treat them, that consumers are smart and have power. You are bleeding out and actively resisting a tourniquet, spitting in the face and insulting the medic offering it to you.
Comics were started by the downtrodden. Superman, the alien immigrant, was created by Jewish men. Wonder Woman was created by a man wishing for women’s equality. Superheroes protect the weak, not those who seek to dominate. You’ve forgotten your roots, and completely assimilated to dominant, oppressive culture.
You are in control of beautiful characters. Kind, compassionate, flawed human characters. Characters who want the world to be better, who help the downtrodden, who rescue kittens from trees and save lives. People who can fly.
But you’re stuck on the ground, actively digging yourself deeper into mud.
You think Harley Quinn killing herself is funny. You want others to engage in laughing at that with you. You refuse to let Batwoman get married. I’m still waiting for a Wonder Woman movie. All my favorite characters are erased or dead or had their titles canceled.
I am so tired.
I am tired and angry and sad and hurt, and I have been for over 8 years. But I have also been happy and delighted and healed and nourished by your characters, and that makes it sting all the worse. Some of your authors are my writing idols. Greg Rucka, J. H. Williams III, and Gail Simone are amazing writers. Even if I haven’t liked everything they’ve worked on, I respect everything they’ve worked on. They consistently write in characters and identities who are left out everywhere else. They treat the characters and the readers with respect, when your company policy seems to be to do anything but that. Greg Rucka’s run on Wonder Woman was the best Wonder Woman has ever been written, and the Hiketeia is one of the best comics, soundly answering the age-old question of “Who would win? Batman or Superman” with Wonder Woman, of course.
Wonder Woman and the Shining Knight (an Arthurian knight who is one of the few trans* or gender queer characters that isn’t awful in all of media) are two of my three favorite characters from anything, ever. They mean so much to me.
Batwoman and Philippus and Raven and Starfire and Pantha and Fire and Ice and Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn and both Batgirls and Solstice and Miss Martian and Kho and Mary Marvel have all meant so much to me. I needed all of them at various points in my life. I still need them. And you do not care at all. Fine, you’re a company, you don’t care about feelings and empathy and that your characters are literally LITERALLY life-saving. Wonder Woman and Shining Knight and Batwoman have got me through both fits of depression and coming out. But you don’t care. Capitalism, right? So here’s my crass appeal to money. Comics are tanking. There are not enough people buying them, and you have been in crisis mode over this for years. And now you are loosing me, and fans like me, and not getting any new ones because you keep being consistently shitty. Here’s my advice. Stop Sucking. Just stop fucking sucking, DC. How hard is it, really, to not trivialize suicide? To let a lesbian get married? To not write rape at the drop of a fucking hat?
When you can answer that, maybe, maybe I will come back. But for now?
I am done.
I’m putting you out of my life.