Why I put back the Red Lanterns book.

September 25th, 2011 by |

To start off, I’d like to link to Laura Hudson’s excellent post at Comics Alliance.  She hits the nail on the head exactly when talking about male and female characters and their sexuality.  It’s worth a read, but for those of you with limited time, it can be summarized in three points.

1.  The ‘sexuality’ expressed by female comic book characters is not female sexuality but male sexual fantasy.

2.  In several important books male characters are shown as heroes first while female characters are shown as expressions of sexual fantasy first.

3.  That is really sexist, and makes her want to turn away from comics despite the medium being both her primary interest and her job.

The post focuses on Catwoman #1 and Red Hood and the Outlaws #1.  Catwoman I knew was not for me the moment I saw the cover.  Red Hood, though, had two characters in it I was interested in and one character in it I was unfamiliar with – but the  images that Laura shows of the male heroes juxtaposed with the female heroes are why I put it back on the shelf, feeling exactly as depressed and turned away from comics as she did.  I thought I’d add one more example.  Two weeks ago Red Lanterns #1 came out.  I thought the rainbow of lanterns corps was a stupid idea when I first heard of it, but seeing what DC did with it, I realized I was wrong.  I grew to love the idea, the wacky joy that it brought to comics, and the many different stories and characters it spawned.  I was excited to pick up the book.  Then I looked through it.

This is the introduction of Red Lantern 1

This is the introduction of Red Lantern 2

This is the introduction of Red Lantern 3

And I put the book back on the shelf.

On the plus side, I will have more money for Batgirl and Batwoman, since I’ve seen the upcoming Birds of Prey #4.

What is this, a Bratz doll catalog?  Even the Teen Titans cover looks more badass.  Why are they all twelve?  Why do they all have the same face?  Why is Barbara knock-kneed?

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19 comments to “Why I put back the Red Lanterns book.”

  1. Because David Finch, that’s why.

  2. Hire Kate Beaton and fire everyone else.

    Problem solved. You’re welcome.

  3. Haha! Silly Esther. You thought Ed Benes would tastefully draw a woman.

  4. Yet another incredibly well-written, rational piece that lays the issues people have about this stuff in easy-to understand terms. Yet another explanation of the problem with female characters in mainstream comics that’s just going to be ignored and misunderstood by people on the Internet and superhero comic writers.

    Not to take anything away from either your piece or the piece you linked, because they’re incredible. It’s just frustrating sometime that no matter how well this shit gets explained, people are going to misunderstand or willfully misinterpret it. The Internet sucks sometimes and I just made myself depressed, is what I’m trying to say here.

  5. @William George

    You mean hire Kate Beaton AND Collen Coover. Then fire everyone else.

    Now the problem is solved. I’ve take my thank-you check made out to cash.

  6. I meant, “I’ll take”

    Sorry, I hate grammar mistakes.

  7. @David Bitterbaum

    You mean hire Kate Beaton, Colleen Coover, and Sara Pichelli. Then fire everyone else.

    Problem: SOLVED

  8. According to Graeme on the Wait,What? podcast a few weeks ago, Colleen Coover and Chris Samnee both tried to get work at DC and were turned down. But Ed Benes and David Finch are DC exclusives? Are the editors at DC fucking idiots?

  9. I’m a guy who enjoys cheesecake art, but I found the first issues of Outsiders and Catwoman embarassingly bad.

  10. Oh my god I’m so glad someone else sees horrific brats dolls on that Finch cover. I was beginning to think I was going insane.

  11. You gotta feel bad for Peter Milligan. He’s writing a perfectly good story on Red Lanterns, the text does nothing to objectify Bleez – she’s actually one of the more active characters in the book, in a totally non-sexual way – and then they had to go and put Ed Benes on it.

  12. Munkiman you hit the nail on the head… and how dare everyone in this thread forget about the numero uno female superhero artist in the world who already has cred at DC AND with its fans…

    Where the heck is Amanda Conner?!?!?!?!?!?

    OK she’s on another planet fighting alien hordes with Jimmy Palmiotti while his clone is here writing All Star Western… lemme go to my second choice… she’s worked on a critically acclaimed book/series for DC and has a ‘clean’ style that would work well for superhero books

    Doesn’t DC still have Pia Guerra to an exclusive contract?

    I know a lot of people like Kate Beaton but to me she wouldn’t work well on a mainstream series just like a Fred Hembeck. It is just “too cartoony” in my opinion.

  13. Both Palmiotti and Conner have confirmed that Conner has not one, but two projects at DC that she is currently working on.

  14. Oh, man. The CAT has pants, obviously, but the woman doesn’t. The CAT has a uniform that covers its entire body except for its tail, EVEN THOUGH IT IS A CAT AND OBVIOUSLY DOESN’T CARE ABOUT CLOTHES, but the female lantern just has her naked butt hanging right out in our faces.

    Sure. That makes 100% sense.

  15. Eh, the Red Lantern thing I don’t think is really all that bad. It’s pretty cheesecakey, if for some reason you find a dead-looking alien that shoots blood out of its mouth sexy. The Catwoman and Red Hood stuff was amazingly terrible, though. Also, with Winnick writing, I wonder how long it’ll take before we find out Selina has AIDS.

  16. Thanks for the update Debaser.. Best news I have heard DC wise all month….

  17. @braak: Literal laugh-out-loud. Thx.

  18. I am really afraid of what the twelve year olds in your area look like.

  19. While I don’t like the whole gratuitous fan-service stuff (I find it offending *to men*, more so than I imagine it would be to a woman, which I do by imagining how it would be to have comic books sell based quite a bit on female-targeted fan-service. Not only offending, but I think it does no good for earning respect to comics), and I can indeed spot many things I find outright wrong by myself, I’m a bit troubled by where is the good middle ground.

    The comments cited Amanda Conner, among other female artists, but looking at some of their stuff sometimes I wonder if there’s a double standard. It’s ok if a woman draws that, but it’s wrong if it’s a man drawing. Not that I find Conner’s stuff just equivalent to the images shown here, I do think she’s definitely more close to the middle ground, and perhaps she adds the whole cutesy thing that attenuates the whole thing and make it more appealing to women too, if that’s not something somewhat prejudiced to say.

    My point really is, I think that one could fool quite a bit of people into criticizing the very same art one finds tasteful when drawn by a woman, just by redrawing it in the exact same pose, body proportions, facial expression and clothing, just changing the most superficial style as the one of someone like Finch or Benes. Somewhat as a very rigid draw-over, only “faking” it was their own.

    I may be mistaken though, perhaps it would still be judged in the same way, perhaps there’s always some subtlety making a very clear line, and it’s just a coincidence that only female pencilers were cited here as the ones who would do it right.

    I guess I got to look at more stuff from them to compare.