Superman/Wonder Woman is the upcoming DC series that's already being bombarded by negative press across the Internet. We here at the Outhouse are refusing to take a stance on the series, mainly because it's written by Charles Soule, who may or may not be the greatest thing since sliced bread. However, we have commented on how cringeworthy the marketing for this book has been, and last weekend was no exception.
Last weekend, at Toronto's Fan Expo, DC held an All Access panel discussing their slate of upcoming series. Tony Daniel, artist for the series, and Brian Cunningham, DC's VP of Marketing, were among the panelists and briefly discussed the book. Here's Daniel's thoughts on the book (bold emphasis ours):
It’s funny, because in Chicago I was talking to Bobbie Chase and Bob Harras about making a book, I wasn’t referring to creating this book, but I mentioned maybe, can we create a book that targets a little bit more of the female readership that’s been growing. And maybe a book that has a little bit of romance in it, a little big of sex appeal, you know, something that would, for lack of a better example, that hits on the Twilight audience.
You know, millions of people went to see those in the theaters because it has those kind of, you know, subject matter. The drama, the characterization with love triangles and forbidden love and things like that. Literally a month later they asked me, “Hey, what do you think of Superman/Wonder Woman?” And I think it took all of maybe three seconds for me to say, “Yeah, that’s great. Let’s do that.” Because that’s exactly what I was describing that we need.
So the big takeaways there: Daniel thinks DC needs more books that skews towards the female crowd (good!) and the way to do that is by making a book that harkens back to sparkly vampires and dysfunctional romance (bad!).
We're not going to knock on Twilight here (although feel free to do so in the comments), but it seems a little...cliche? one-dimensional? that DC feels the only way to get women to read their books is to make it like a young adult romance novel that's been heavily criticized for the way it portrays its female protagonist .
We weren't the only ones whose red flags were raised by that statement. Liz, a contributor at io9, had this exchange with the panel during the Q&A session:
Liz: When you were talking about Superman/Wonder Woman, what caught my ear was, you’re making it romance and romantic to catch the women. My question is, that’s not all you’re doing, right? [Laughter and applause from the audience]
Daniel: Are you asking if you’ll see like, Superman butt shots? I’ll be sure to keep it even.
What? Let's hear that one again, this time in slow motion:
Daniel: Are you asking if you’ll see like, Superman butt shots? I’ll be sure to keep it even even even even ....
Daniel has a history of seeing if he can fit all the feet into his mouth, so I suppose I can't be too surprised about that comment. And I think that it was intended as a joke, just one that fell flat.
What's worrying about this whole exchange is that DC seems to think that the only way to get female readers is to make comics that focus on romance. And that the best way to make a romance comic is to ape Twilight. And frankly, I don't know if that's something female readers are interested in.
On the plus side, Daniel said this about the series as well:
You’re going to be really surprised. I mean, that’s if, you know, that’s what you’re not expecting to be blown away or something, I think you will be blown away. [Wonder Woman]’s very strongly written, she’s not, you know, I mean she holds her own. And you’re going to like the interaction between Superman and Wonder Woman and as well as their private lives, Diana and Clark. I mean, we have a lot of fun with their interactions and we’re going to have that drama.
And on different levels, there’s a lot of layers to it that make it, you know, a little bit more of a more enjoyable book for me to draw and I’m sure for Charles [Soule]. We’re both doing something kind of new with this so it has a perfect recipe I think and it’s something I really want to do. I really think you’re going to like it a lot. Let me know. Just get on Facebook, let me know.
Why couldn't he just say that in the first place?
We're going to do our best to give this comic a shot. And we're already lining up a cross-section of female readers to see if Superman/Wonder Woman has any appeal to the demographic DC is (allegedly) trying to reach. However, we're to the point where DC just needs to STFU and let the book speak for itself, rather than keep building negative press before two months before the book launches.