Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gotta Start Somewhere

Diamondrock has an interesting post up where he asks about the motivation behind the recent creation of female characters based on pre-existing male characters.

It's a fair enough question. But I have to say, honestly, I don't really care about the motivation. I mean, yes, ideally, I'd like to see more female characters created for the reason of creating more awesome female characters. But in the end, if the reason the gals are created is for another hot chick in leather...

I'm actually okay with that.

You see, I come across very optimistic, I'm told, but the truth is...I'm a cynic at heart. I believe the men and ladies in the comic book companies are business people first. They have a product, they want to sell that product. I don't begrudge them for it.

Besides, I don't think the motive is much different than the motives behind creating Supergirl or Batgirl, for example. In the end, that was about selling a product too. I mean, reaching a female audience with the character was part of it. And maybe the sexual aspect wasn't as explicit as we see in character creation nowadays, but you'll notice that neither Kara Zor-El nor Barbara Gordon could ever be considered plain young women.

And Yvonne Craig certainly wasn't cast in the series because she was a Shakespearean-level actress. (Disclaimer: I have no idea whether or not Yvonne Craig is a Shakespearean-level actress, but I'm reasonably certain, either way, it wouldn't have been why she's cast.)

The key thing though, is that it doesn't, in the end, matter to me why a character is created as long as a character is created. Even a character with the most contrived and wretched introduction story can be crafted into a compelling being by a devoted enough writer. Having more female characters in the pot just increases that chance.

I don't begrudge straight men for wanting to read about hot female characters. Personally, I like reading about attractive men. I do wish that the comic companies would acknowledge that many men (and gay women) are attracted to women who do not always fit Hollywood's conceptualized standard of beauty. We see a LOT of variation in the physical types of the male characters created, but quite a bit less variation in the ladies. I think that's a shame and ignores the fact that many men/women really do prefer ladies that differ from Hollywood's ideal. I know a fellow who says Amanda Waller is the sexiest woman in the DCU. And I know more than a few folk who would agree with me that a girl Nick Fury would be the hottest thing ever.

And I don't mean "girl Nick Fury" like the Countess. I mean "girl Nick Fury" as a foul-mouthed, ill-tempered, manipulative, crazy, graying, forty-something with a propensity for blasting through walls on motorcycles, guns blasting. Screaming at her men, calling them "goldbricks" and random other insults, while blowing things the fuck up and probably losing half her clothes in the process.

Seriously, TELL me that wouldn't be hot. If you do, I will "pfft" and accuse you of having no taste.

But anyway, I think the lack of variety of hot female characters is a big weakness, but I think that's a different issue completely from the one at hand.

I don't actually agree with replacing male characters with female counterparts. I think that's an easy way to get the pre-existing audience to resent the new character. But I don't think that's the case in the examples given and as Supergirl, Batgirl, Hawkgirl, et cetera, show, there's usually enough room in the multiverse to comfortably have both characters. AND there's the advantage of having a preset cast to help establish various aspects of the new female character without having to invent a brand new supporting cast right away.

Also, much as I've had issues with Hudlin's writing of the Storm/Black Panther relationship, I have to say Girl!Black Panther sounds fucking awesome and I wish to subscribe to this newsletter.


  • At October 22, 2008 9:50 AM, Anonymous suedenim said…

    The wonderful 1963 series had Sky Solo as a supporting character, and she's basically a girl Nick Fury (though one who led a Blackhawks/Jet Dream-style aviation group in WWII rather than the Howlers.

    When re-reading the series recently, I *really* wanted to see a Sky Solo series....

  • At October 22, 2008 1:17 PM, Blogger x-man75 said…

    I hate the idea of replacing a pre-existing male character with a female one. For that matter, I don't like to see a pre-existing male character replaced with another male character either. Like you said, I would prefer to see new characters created instead of replacing established characters.

    I know I personally lean heavily towards the way a story is written, as opposed to how the characters are drawn(in the end they're not real, and I always thought it odd that real people could lust after fake people, I understand it, but I just don't get it...).

    One of my all time favorite characters (male or female)was Mockingbird, not because of how she looked, but because of how she acted. I used to love the way she'd knock Hawkeye around when he needed it. She was her own person, who, for the most part(although not always)was written very well.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that there should be more female characters, of varied forms, in comics, but I would much rather a great story behind a NEW female character, as opposed to a pathetic attempt to draw in readers by saying something like, "Guess what, we're replacing Iron Man with Iron Woman, just to boost sales."

  • At October 22, 2008 4:03 PM, Blogger Mr. Allison Blaire said…

    There was kind of a girl Fury on Kim Possible. Well she wasn't a cigar chomping, crazy badass but she did have the eyepatch and ran the spy organization, etc.

  • At October 22, 2008 6:38 PM, Blogger Marshall Ryan said…

    Seriously, TELL me that wouldn't be hot. If you do, I will "pfft" and accuse you of having no taste.

    I could tell you that. But it would be a lie. It'd be pretty damn hot.

  • At October 23, 2008 10:38 AM, Anonymous Marionette said…

    I wouldn't say this was a recent phenomenon. The first example was probably Mary Marvel, and the biggest character feminisation event was in the 1970's when Marvel created a whole bunch for copyright reasons, thus increasing their number of female heroes by a considerable margin.

    Has it ever gone the other way, though? Only examples I can think of are Kid Zatanna and the appalling and unmourned Power Boy.


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