New 52, Same Old Bullshit

This post is about: Comics, Kyriarchy, Pop Culture, Sex and Gender
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A friend expressed surprise I haven’t commented on DC’s “New 52″ relaunch, considering the amount of sexist decisions in several of the titles. The truth is, I haven’t read a single issue.

This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise – because of my budget I don’t read any monthly comics titles, let along mainstream superhero stuff. My interest in superheroes is mostly due to cartoons like Batman: The Animated Series and the more recent Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. My knowledge of comics continuity is mostly retroactive: I research the history of characters and titles that catch my eye for one reason or another. Occasionally I download back issues to catch up on a particularly interesting story arc. Friends lend me the trades. I read a lot of critiques from the perspective of LGTBQ people, feminists and persons of color.

In other words: DC’s stunt failed to win me over as a new reader. Since gaining new readership is their stated goal for all this, I thought I’d explain why. But why use words when pictures say a thousand times more? What’s wrong with the Nu52, in pictures, below the cut:


The original Amanda Waller, a large black woman in a skirt and suit, yelling at Batman with a finger pointed at his chest. Batman is visibly shaken.

Before: Big Beautiful Badass

The Nu52 Amanda Waller, a very thin black woman in a blouse with a plunging neckline.

After: What DC's lineup was really missing was skinny women.
















Catwoman in her modern costume, zipped up to the neck with yellow cats-eye goggles and large boots, stomping something purple and gooey.

Before: Catwoman beats feet.

Catwoman, flipping backwards in an awkward cheesecake pose, only half-in her costume. Her left breast, in a red lacy bra, is exposed.

After: At least you can see her face in this shot. It's several panels of just tits and ass prior.


An image of anti-hero Red Hood gunning down baddies, but everything below his navel appears to belong to a man three times his size.

Is his lower half being refracted through water?!?! BODIES DON'T WORK LIKE THAT.




A chart showing that fewer women worked on DC's main line after the relaunch.

Yellow is before the relaunch, blue is after.











Tim Hanley’s column at also shows that those women on the Nu52 books are doing WAY more work than their male counterparts: While overall the percentage of credits for women didn’t drop much (9.3%), the actual number of women did, to 4.9%. So, about 5% of the staff is doing about 9% of the work… and they’re all women.

Were things perfect at DC before? Absolutely not. But progress had been made and relaunching their entire line was a perfect opportunity to make changes for the better. Instead, they shifted into neutral, popped the handbrake and let the whole damn thing roll back downhill. At this rate, it’ll be off a cliff and to the bottom of the ocean.

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  • Jnaughtynotnice

    In the third picture, REd Hood was wearing the bottom half of a fat suit.

    • Anonymous

      Ah, okay. That explains a lot. It’s not a badly-drawn picture of Red Hood, it’s a badly-drawn picture of Red Hood wearing half a fat suit. I’ll update with a correction. Thanks!

  • eairy

    Thoughts on Batwoman?

    • Anonymous

      At this point, unfortunately, I’ve only read the first one or two issues of Nu52 Batwoman, but I liked what I saw so far. I really should catch up, because the mini-series Greg Rucka penned was some of the best superhero comics I’ve ever read. It would have been very easy for the Kate Kane character to be caught in the gravity of tokenism, but she was written and drawn so well she achieved escape velocity. I can and should devote an entire post to everything that was amazing about that series – even the way the female characters *stand* in that comic was damned revolutionary compared to most of DC’s stuff. I think Kane looks more terrifying as Batwoman than Wayne does as Batman, and I fucking love it.

      I’m glad the new run still has J. H. Williams III on art – his work is gorgeous, with a powerful design sense and a willingness to play with the medium that appeals to my McCloudian sensibilities. And again, the first issue or two seemed to be on the right track. I do remember a scene where she and her new sidekick (okay, I’m not sure why she’s got a sidekick now, but that’s neither here nor there) change clothes in front of us, which made me think “Okay, this is realistic… but do you ever see Batman and Robin getting naked in the Bat-locker-room together?” But even then I don’t recall it being particularly cheesecakey… and honestly I don’t think the problem is that we see female characters doing such normal human things, but that we rarely see male characters doing it. Have we ever seen the Flash taking a hot shower and contemplating his day? Because we’ve seen just about every female protagonist in anything ever do so.

      Have you been reading the Nu52 Batwoman, then? What are your thoughts?

  • Adam Roger Kearley

    I don’t think I’m familiar with Amanda Waller, but I must say that redesigning her like that is absolute BS. They really need to take a page from Sam Kieth’s sketchbook as far as drawing women is concerned.