DC Comics , Suicide, and Misogyny

The latest bit of organised insanity from DC Comics is this competition where drawing a picture of the character Harley Quinn in several situations may get you published. Here’s the description of the last of four panels DC would like people to draw.

Harley sitting naked in a bathtub with toasters, blow dryers, blenders, appliances all dangling above the bathtub and she has a cord that will release them all. We are watching the moment before the inevitable death. Her expression is one of “oh well, guess that’s it for me” and she has resigned herself to the moment that is going to happen.

This has caused a wee bit of a kerfuffle as well, it’s such a fucking awful idea. DC have effectively tried to sexualise the actual act of suicide in a way to get what is a bit of cheap publicity which yes, involves people like me pointing out the problem with doing this. It’s a perfect bit of marketing if one has not got ethics or a soul to worry about.

Taken in isolation it doesn’t seem too bad, but when you consider that DC changed the character from this…

To this..

There’s nothing essentially wrong with sexualised superheroes if used in the right context  as I’ve explained before, but this is different. This is cheap and pandering to a certain large part of the customer base who see female characters as gratification only, which in this context is dubious and wrapped round a sexualised image of suicide is morally dubious at best, or pandering to the worst of people.

Coming around the same time as their decision to refuse a lesbian marriage in their Batwoman title, and just before Suicide Prevention Week, you have to think that DC is run by people who have no idea of the world beyond their own cynical worldview. You’d probably be right. These joyless decisions to ensure that DC closes out a larger readership confirms what the likes of Karen Berger have said about the company that it’s given up on dealing with anyone that isn’t in their current core readership, even if that means alienating people and generally making themselves looking like enormous arseholes.

4 thoughts on “DC Comics , Suicide, and Misogyny

  1. Good points raised here, Glenn. To play devil’s advocate for a moment, Harley Quinn is insane, so it’s not too much of a stretch to have her in a situation like this …. AND I’m willing to give DC the benefit of the doubt and say that the flap over Batwoman is not about gay marriage, it’s just about marriage. But there my advocacy ends.

    There are some divisive issues going on in comics right now, and I see most of them as coming from DC Comics. This whole New 52 has been an ill-conceived affair from day one. Two years later, I still don’t know what the whole point of it was. Even prior to this, DC was moving in the wrong direction – especially with their female characters, and some odd trend towards dark and bleak storylines. I’m not against these kinds of storylines, but when you have such a vast library of diverse characters, it doesn’t make sense to move in one direction. Some characters fit, some don’t, but they definitely ALL don’t. DC’s product is all one-note stuff. There’s no wonder, no awe, no fun, no excitement. The DC universe is just a bad place to be … for everybody. Cynical is right.

    I also agree that sexualization in comics is perfectly appropriate in context – they do feature hot men and women in skintight costumes – but like with the usage of super powers, there is no real weight behind it. It’s just the big tits and muscles for the sake of it. I recall the issue of Power Girl by Pamiotti and Conner, where she directed the guy’s eye to her face, a knowing nod and wink to that aspect. Don’t deny it, but treat it accordingly – and have fun with it too if you can, or else it just becomes wank material for the lonely. All superhero-producing companies are guilty of it, but the New 52 has given DC the dubious top slot in that category.

    And I concur with Karen Berger. At this point in time DC have given up on making new readers. Dan Didio’s point about how marriage limits the storylines is false. It simply changes the kinds of stories you can tell. It also shows that DC have no interest in creating comics about superHUMANS, just bodies in costumes fighting an endless, abstract war against each other. It’s soulless and deeply uninteresting.


  2. Comics are just fine, superhero comics is a horrible nasty mess and Marvel are hardly innocent but the constant utter fuckups coming from DC are astonishing.

    As said, taken in isolation these things aren’t too bad, and the Harley Quinn thing might be ok, but in context it’s cynical pandering nonsense which manages to cross several lines to actually offend while genuinely be hurtful to a large section of readers, and potential readers.

    DC are perfectly happy just mining their current readership. That’s clear but they’re alienating too many people on both sides of the fence, and there will be a point where they make one of these mistakes too many.


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