Okay, so in my last post
, I've responded celebrating four women in an apparent cast of seventeen. In the comments, Tekanji
makes a valid point about the size of the ratio with regards to the authority present at the table:
"Let me preface this with, "Yay, four women!"
Now let me be the party-pooper, glass is half-empty girl. I feel like it's a bit of a commentary on just how bad gender parity is in comments currently if we get all excited over having 4 out of 16 people being women on a cover. That's only 25% women, which isn't even close to the 50% that would be nice to see.
Also, the first thing that struck me about the gender layout is that the people sitting around the table are all male. Maybe this is my own interpretation, but I feel like people with seniority/authority would get the seats, which would imply that the women there aren't as senior/important as the men.
But... uh... yay, four women! (please don't hurt me)"
Since a similar topic, the number part at least, showed up on ComicBloc, I thought I'd post the relevant post and my response here, because it contains my opinion regarding that. And I like the sound of my own voice.
"There are only 4 women, out of the 17 members shown, that's kinda sad. But I guess JSA has always been more a "boys" club mentality...
My response follows
"Honestly, I'd be upset if that proportion was in another large cast. But this is JSA. The Golden Age connection/legacy requirement means that it's going to be harder to work more female characters in without replacing a lot of great male characters.
Alan, Jay, Ted and Carter are the old guard. It'd be a bad idea to replace them as they're the core of the team. The 40s heroes. Debatably Sand falls under the same category as Wes's sidekick.
Then characters like Pieter, Rick and Michael were/are staples in the modern take on the JSA. Todd and Al's stories constantly intertwined with the modern JSA. The legacy and character ties they've developed make them very valuable.
So personally, I really wouldn't want to see any of these guys replaced. All it would do is get rid of a popular, likeable character for someone without all the pre-established development and interaction. It'd actually, I think, be more harmful than beneficial to insert more female characters that way. JSA's themes have always seemed to be legacy and family. Mid-Nite and Terrific's replacements worked because their predecessors hadn't been terribly active at the time. But a replacement now would be more disruptive and I'd imagine, not incredibly well-recieved, regardless of gender. BUT, the ill-reception of the replacement characters would probably be blamed on the fact that the new characters would be female.
This way though, it works for me. Power Girl and Stargirl are already members. Liberty Belle (going by the way the crack in the bell looks like a lightning bolt) is a pre-established character with familial ties inheriting a proper legacy. While having a human Red Tornado (I assume that's her) is long overdue.
This way, we've got two already accepted female characters presumably here to stay, with two that will be evaluated on their own merits rather than based on who they're replacing.
There seems to be a lot of inactive Golden Age-connected identities, so it's possible that if these two stick, there'll be an open door for more female characters to inherit some of those as well.
That said, I was kind of hoping for Hawkgirl and Jade (NOT as a replacement for Alan...and presumably alive again) to join, but well, there're always later possibilities. :-)"
To add to this, it's a bit of a catch-22. How do we add more female members when they basically need to be replacing popular male characters. This might make me a bad feminist, but I do NOT want that to happen. When it comes down to it, if I have a choice to get more female characters but it means losing the guys pictured above...I wouldn't take it. I love those guys. (Especially Sand. There will be no trading Sand for a woman. Ever. I'm a bad feminist but no.)
But Geoff Johns said that this cast of seventeen isn't the entire team, leading folks to believe this may end up something like the JLU, with a base core of characters and others taking part specifically for the storyline. This means that there's a lot of potential right now for the infusion of more female characters without the stigma of having to replace beloved characters.
Now to continue on, Tek's point about the placement is very valid. Only men are sitting. I can see how that could definitely be seen as imparting visual authority.
However, (and here's where I start trying to do that Image Analysis thing that Ragnell
is so good at and I'm so...not) there are three members that really catch my eye in this picture when I see it, and none of them are sitting at the table. Stargirl of course is very prominent, but given that she's the kid sister of the team, that makes perfect sense. The other characters that draw my eye most though are Wildcat and Powergirl.
Ted's not sitting down, and that fact if nothing else, disproves the people sitting have the authority interpretation, I think. Ted is old guard. He's from the 40s. He's the gruff uncle to Green Lantern and Flash's dad and mom. He's a character with a lot of prominence. And while he's not the leader type, like Hawkman, his opinion actually carries a lot more weight.
And he's standing. And I think his placement is deliberate. He's standing over Hawkman and Mid-Nite. Towering a little, but not in the almost subservient manner that Atom-Smasher is in the left corner. Wildcat's looking up at the "camera", challengingly. He's in a position of authority.
The other character that draws my eye in this scene is Power Girl. She's standing kitty corner to Wildcat. Two points on a radius. She's in the forefront of the picture, 3/4th's view. Her body is partially turned toward the group while she's glaring out at the audience. While this is in part, I think, due to the fact that this position is good for showing off breasts, it's also a stance of authority/power as well. She's got a very matriarchal stance right here. Like a lioness with cubs. Her body is toward them, nurturing and authoritarian. Protective. Which is an impression helped by her outward glare.
Of the nine unseated figures, there is an element of subordinance in seven of them. Atom-Smasher's (Or Damage, I still think it's Al though) looking down. Starman's facing entirely away from the group. Steel's body language isn't confident, Liberty Belle's looking back, Red Tornado is leaning on Jay and Stargirl's on the table.
But Power Girl and Wildcat's stances aren't weakened at all, thus they are towering over the group in stances of strength, opposite one another. They're visual pillars, holding up the rest of the team. They visually reinforce one another.
I'm reminded of this image actually:
This was released earlier on, promotion for the December release. Here, the authoritarian elements are much more obvious. Once more we have Ted and Karen towering over the group. This time with Mr. Terrific. It occurs to me though, in the round table image, Terrific is sitting. He lacks the reinforcing power stance of the other two. He's essentially visually demoted. I'm not sure why this is, except possibly because his authority has more to do with his Chairmanship position. If another person is now the chairman, he would lack the prominence.
I freely admit, seeing this bottom scan first probably very much influences my read of the top one. The authority is blatant here. Karen, Ted and Michael are sorting through pictures. Choosing. Among those pictures: Superman and Wonder Woman. These three are, at this point, in the position of choosing
Superman or Wonder Woman.
But anyway, as I see it, the JSA cover image at the top, presents three tiers of authority:
1. Power Girl, Wildcat. For the reasons above. They're strong stanced, confident and towering.
2. The members seated around the table.
3. Everyone else.
As for Liberty Belle and Red Tornado, I'm not upset at their lack of visual authority (or even Stargirl's, as she is again, the little sister of the group and really the most prominent of the images). Liberty Belle's a prodigal character, now moving to inherit her mother's legacy instead of her father's, while Red Tornado is brand new all together.
But Power Girl is in a position of power. And I like that. (I really think it'd be awesome to make her chairman!) So I'm very very happy about this image.