Monday, January 16, 2012

Is It Wednesday Yet? // Huntress, Batgirl, the New 52

If you've been paying attention to the comics blogs and news sites (and since you are reading this, I'm going to assume that you have), then you probably know that DC has announced a second wave of "New 52" titles along with other changes to their line, including some cancellations. As you might expect, some of the announcements were rather baffling. It was no big surprise that Hawk & Dove was cancelled, since it was undoubtedly one of DC's worst books and the sales were very low, but how could this possibly lead to artist Rob Liefeld being given not one but THREE books in exchange? It's really hard to understand how DC arrives at those types of decisions. I'm not going to waste any time speculating about it. The good news here is that the books Liefeld will be drawing are not books I would ever in a million years be tempted to read, so it's not like this has any effect on me at all.

Another bit of news had to do with the character of Huntress, who is currently starring in an eponymous mini-series written by Paul Levitz, and who will soon co-star with Power Girl in a new title by the same writer called World's Finest. What we learned about her is that she's not Helena Bertinelli, the character most fans are familiar with since she's been appearing in DC comics for the past 20 years, but Helena Wayne, her somewhat more obscure pre-Crisis equivalent. (Just read this post from DC Women Kicking Ass if you're confused.)

Why does this matter? As some people have pointed out, in the reboot, all characters have been changed, so this was never going to be the pre-New 52 Huntress, regardless of her name. That may be true, but clearly some characters are changing more than others. Bruce Wayne may technically be a few years younger than he was, and a few details from his early years as Batman may have changed, but if you're reading Scott Snyder's Batman, you know that he's pretty much writing him exactly the same way he would have written him in pre-52 continuity.

The point is, while there are a few New 52 books that I think are really good, almost all of them would have worked just as well in pre-New 52 continuity: Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Batwoman, Batman, Batman and Robin. The books and characters that have been changed the most - Teen Titans, Birds of Prey, Batgirl, Superman, Justice League - are of no interest to me, because they all feel like inferior versions of their predecessors. (The only exception is Wonder Woman.)

So now we have Huntress in her own mini-series, wearing essentially the same costume as in her pre-New 52 appearances, drawn gorgeously by Marcus To, going on an international mission to Italy where we find out that she's fluent in Italian. I hope you'll forgive me for assuming that this was Helena Bertinelli. And I was reading it in spite of the fact that the story is a freaking bore and some of it is vaguely racist, simply because this is one of the only female characters I liked from pre-New 52 DCU who survived unchanged and got her own book, so damn right I'm going to support it.

But, hey! What an idiot! I can't believe I fell for it. Of course she's not who I thought she was. She's Helena Wayne. A character I've never read before and don't really care about.

Why the change? Is it because she's more interesting if she's linked to Bruce Wayne? Is it because DC is more concerned with appealing to old men who used to read comics and maybe might be interested in reading them again if they feature characters they recognize?

I don't know. But I lost interest. I'm not even going to finish the mini-series. I'm done with that one.


Incidentally, I'm also done with Batgirl. I read this interview with Gail Simone and it annoyed me for a few different reasons I don't even really want to get into. But the short version is that I have no desire to read this book anymore. I was very much against the idea of Barbara Gordon not being Oracle anymore and the only reason I decided to read the new series was to give Gail Simone a chance to prove me wrong. I think five issues is more than a fair chance, and at this point I have read absolutely nothing that in any way justifies what they've done to the character. The story they are telling is not terrible. But it's just not worth what was lost. Not even close. I miss Oracle. I miss Stephanie Brown. And I miss Bryan Q. Miller.

The worst part is that Gail Simone keeps mentioning that Batgirl is the top-selling female solo book on the market, which I suppose is one way to measure it's success, and I feel like a goddamn tool for having contributed to that success. I bought the first five issues was so that I could judge it for myself and nobody could tell me I was bashing a book I hadn’t even read. Well, I read it, and I hereby judge it to be bad. If I could go back in time and un-buy those five issues, I would.


Oh, well. Here are some comics I will buy this week:

  • Batman #5
  • Wonder Woman #5
  • Amazing Spider-Man #678
  • Daredevil #8
  • Superior #7


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