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No Girls Allowed.

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She-Hulk has had series starring her cancelled three times. Manhunter and Spider-Girl fought a give-and-take battle against cancellation which both recently, once and for all, lost. Even stalwarts such as Wonder Woman and Supergirl aren’t setting the sales charts on fire.

This could all be considered proof of a long held belief that any comic book featuring a female lead simply won’t sell. The cancellation of Birds of Prey could be pointed to as further evidence.

But is this really the case? Are female lead characters a death sentence to any book? Do fans really not want to read the adventures of women heroes? And if so, why not? The answers to these questions are not as simple as many make them out to be.

One of the most common arguments for the lack of success of female books is that women simply do not read comics. This is at best a gross oversimplification or at worst downright wrong.

If you need proof of the fact that women do read comics, you need to look no further than your local comic book convention. Granted, the men still outnumber them, but the women are there in numbers too large to ignore. And they have been for a while. The success of manga and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman can attest to that.

But it is a fallacy to think that a woman would read any book with a female lead as it would be that a man would read every book with a male lead. To think that women should automatically lean towards books because the main character has the same body parts that they do is faulty reasoning. It’s just not that simple.

It is also not as simple as men not being willing to read female character driven books. Using myself as an example, I had five out of the six properties listed in the first two paragraphs in my pull list, and I am a man. Could there be some men who have no interest in reading a Birds of Prey or She-Hulk? I suppose. But that is not exclusively the case.

Every person is different, be they male or female. But, if you were to make a sweeping generalization about this whole thing, then you can say that readers are attracted to stories that speak to them in some way, stories they find interesting. It doesn’t matter if the characters are men or women. If the hook is powerful enough to catch your interest and the story is good enough to keep you interested, then you will read the books.

Taken on a case by case basis, the books above could have other reasons for the lack of success other than having female leads. Manhunter was a hard sell because it was essentially a brand new character, which is hard to get fans interested in (see Simon Dark for instance), and it really wasn’t promoted well. Spider-Girl was a bit too anachronistic, a throwback to the Marvel of the 80s and 90s. And She-Hulk and Birds of Prey never really recovered from losing Dan Slott and Gail Simone respectively.

So, while it would be easy to make up pat excuses for why books with women characters don’t sell, it really isn’t at all that simple. But it might become a case where the myths around the topic keep it from being properly addressed and corrected. Instead of trying to create interesting female centered books done by top-name creators, we might end up with no new female starring books at all.

Also out this week:

Ultimate Fantastic Four #60:

Ultimatum raises its dirty little head as the first of the line-wide cancellations hit. The FF was one of the last Ultimate books to arrive on the scene, but they have the “honor” of being one of the first to leave it.

I wish I knew Marvel’s thought processes behind this big shake-up. It seems the general consensus is that the Ultimate continuity has become just as twisted and convoluted as the mainstream Marvel continuity, but this big event won’t address any of that. All indications are that the line will not be rebooted when it comes out of Ultimatum, which was what was originally expected. So, essentially, this is all a great big ado about nothing. What? They couldn’t pare down the line without a big event?  

Joe Pokaski(W), Tyler Kirkham  (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Final Issue.

Robin #183:

Well, if the information out of the recent New York Comic Con told us anything, it was that there will still be a Robin in the post “Battle For The Cowl” era. Two books featuring a version of the character are scheduled for the summer—Batman and Robin and Red Robin.

But who will be the Robin in those books? Just as nobody really wants to see anyone besides Bruce Wayne in the Batman outfit, we have become hesitant to see anyone other than Tim Drake as his sidekick. The character has become one of DC’s most interesting and tragic and was able to support its own series for over 15 years.

However, we must remember that there have been three other Robin’s besides Tim Drake, so it is not unheard of that a replacement could have a similar success.

Fabian Nicieza (W), Freddie E. Williams II (A), DC Comics, $2.99. Final Issue.

Sabrina #100:

You have to hand it to Archie Comics, they have been willing to try things with their characters. And not just with their recent spate of books drawn in a more realistic style either. Their experimentation began with this title, which took their popular Sabrina character and reinterpreted her in a more manga style.

That experiment ends this week as the Sabrina series ends with its 100th issue. Any title that reaches 100 issues is a success, whether it is a mainstream book or not. It will be interesting to see what Archie brings us next, and new directions it allows creators to take their famous characters in the future. And I wonder when Sabrina returns, in what incarnation will she come back in? 

Tania Del Rio (W/A), Archie Comics, $2.25. Final Issue.

Amber Atoms #1:

The idea of a resourceful human, taken out of their native element and forced to confront alien worlds with only their wits and natural resources is a plot that is as old as all popular fiction. It dates back almost a century to John Carter of Mars and is most commonly associated with Flash Gordon.

But seldom is it a woman placed in Flash’s or John’s shoes. But that is the case this week, as the decidedly female Amber Atoms must protect her world and family from an invasion of hostile aliens. It is a sci-fi adventure series much like many that have come before it, but with a twist. If you like space-faring excitement and resourceful female characters, then this series is for you.

Kelly Yates (W/A,) Image Comics, $3.50. Ongoing Series.

Ghost Rider #32:

It’s the battle to end all battles. On one side, Johnny Blaze and what’s left of all the Ghost Riders on Earth. On the other, his brother Danny Ketch leading the renegade forces of the angel Zadkiel. It has all been leading to this final confrontation. And after this, nothing will ever be the same.

I’m a big fan of Jason Aaron’s writing from his work on Scalped and he doesn’t disappoint here either. His Ghost Rider is one part Grindhouse horror, one part supernatural epic, which ties into the history of the character quite nicely as well. If you were in the least bit skeptical about Aaron taking over this title, you really missed out on something special. Lucky for you, it’s not too late to correct your mistake.

Jason Aaron(W), Tan Eng Huat  (A), Marvel Comics, $2.99. Ongoing Series.

The Warriors Official Movie Adaptation #1:

“Warriors! Come Out and Play!!!”

That is the most famous line to come out of the 1979 cult movie, The Warriors. The film focuses on the trials and tribulations of a gang by the same name, which, after being framed for the murder of a rival gang leader, must travel through all five boroughs of New York in order to make it home alive.

Now, coming just over a week after the 30th anniversary of the film, it is finally getting a comic book adaptation. It’s a wonder why it took so long. Director Walter Hill went on record in saying that comic books inspired the look of the film. And with every gang having its own costume, it almost begged to be made into a comic way before now.   

David Atchinson (W), Chris DiBari (A), Dabel Brothers Publishing, $3.99. Five-Issue Miniseries.

Solomon Kane #5:

Kane’s quest for vengeance has led him to the nefarious Castle of the Devil. The castle has an evil history and more than its share of dark secrets. The truth behind all the recent child slayings lay here and Solomon will not rest until justice is served. But that justice might just come at the cost of his own life. But will that be enough to stop the menacing force behind these bad deeds?

The first of Dark Horse’s adaptations of Robert E. Howard’s Solomon Kane stories comes to a close. Whether any more tales of the Puritan avenger are coming in the future, is anybody’s guess. But, odds are, this is not the last that we’ll see of Solomon Kane.  

Scott Allie (W), Mario Guevara (A), Dark Horse Comics, $2.99. Final Issue.

Zombies That Ate the World #1:

Zombies are hard to kill. I’m speaking not only about the flesh-eating characters themselves, but also the trend of zombie comics. Just when you think the craze is over and done with, it springs back up again from a whole new angle that you never before considered.

The current new take on the trend is from Humanoids, whose European perspective has added a dose of black humor to the concept. And when their attempt has gained rave reviews from horror legends such as Tobe Hooper and George A. Romero, then you know that what they brought to the world of Zombie comics really works. It looks like zombies might just be here to stay.   

Jerry Frissen (W), Guy Davis (A), Devil’s Due Publishing, $3.50. Ongoing Series.

New Exiles #18:

You’d think that Chris Claremont and the alternate reality goings on in this series would be a marriage made in heaven. After all, he has used that concept in many of his past works to good effect. But this time around, it felt like something was missing. Don’t get me wrong, the stories were still good, but just not great.

Well, I guess Marvel thought so too, as they are hitting the reboot button on the concept. Claremont’s tenure on the title is at an end, as is the series itself. The Exiles will return to basics with a brand new number one in just under two months. So, if you were an Exiles fan that was displeased with the new direction, be patient. Things will be returning to normal shortly.

  Chris Claremont (W), Tim Seeley (A), Marvel Comics, $2.99. Final Issue.

###

William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY and is expecting his first child with his wife Jennifer. He also is a comic reviewer for PopMatters and is the comic book movie editor for Film Buff Online. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

 

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