DC Comics: More reasons for concern.

Dear DC Comics,

Why is it that when I am planning a nice well thought out article that you must have a week with news I cannot just ignore?

Take for example this week. First there is news that Superman and Wonder Woman are going to be an official couple. That alone would require at least a mention.

But no, you have to follow it up with the news that Rob Liefeld has suddenly left your employ, and in a manner so close to the recent issue with George Perez that I cannot look away.

So here we go again.

First I want to take a look at the Liefeld situation. Rob Liefeld has become something of a joke amongst fans. His art style is off putting to most due to his odd ideas on how human anatomy works and his complete inability to draw feet. His writing style is also often under assault due to a lack of concern to character motivation or internal story continuity.

With that said Rob still gets a lot of work in the industry. From all reports this comes in part from being one of the honestly nicest people in the business. Although the back and forth happening on twitter this week may disprove that last one.

So I’m sure a lot of people were surprised when he announced his leaving DC comics despite being the writer on Hawkman, Grifter, and Deathstroke. His reasoning mirrors the reasons that George Perez gave back in June as to why he left Superman. Rob sites editorial incision, drastic last minute changes, and what he describes as “editor pissing contests” as his reasons for leaving.

This makes Rob the second high profile talent to leave the company for these reasons.

And while it may not seem like much of a segue this leads us to the pairing of Wonder Woman and Superman.

Let’s face it, this just reeks of being an executive “suggestion”

To be honest this is hardly the first time that the idea of a Superman/Wonder Woman pairing has been floated. I can name three different out of continuity stories DC Comics published that explored this idea. Kingdom Come, Justice League: Act of God, and Superman: Distant Fires.  Of course only the first of those was any good.

In continuity the idea was toyed with a couple of times. When John Byrne was writing Superman and George Perez was writing Wonder Woman during the early days of the post Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot you had the Man of Steel attempting to get a date with the Amazon Princess. She was not very receptive to the idea. They ended up on one date and by the end it was clear to Clark that she just wasn’t that in to him.

A couple of decades passed and thanks to actual character development Clark Kent actually had a relationship with Lois Lane that progressed to marriage. However poor Diana discovered that maybe she was a bit more interested then she first let on. Clark being the very role model of good behavior didn’t even consider cheating on Lois, not that Diana was suggesting that, more bemoaning the lost opportunity. Somewhere in there was also the idea that she might be attracted to Bruce Wayne as well. It got a little odd at times.

The point is that at no time was there ever any serious consideration that Superman and Wonder Woman would get together in the main continuity.

Then we had the reboot last year. Due to that, now you have a Lois and Clark that not only are not married, but have never dated and Lois is living with some other guy.  In fact in seems that the reboot was very anti-marriage as they did nearly the same thing to the Flash, even though his marriage was more or less the canon.

Oh and Steve Trevor is in love with Wonder Woman, but it is an unrequited love.

So this leaves the door open to a Clark/Diana hookup.

My problem is that it just doesn’t feel like a natural outgrowth of the storytelling that has been going on. In fact I would go so far as to say it is pure fan service designed to grab headlines.

In the Superman books Clark is clearly in love with Lois, but she is trying to set him up with her sister Lucy. This pairing seems to at least be a possibility, if for rom-com level antics if nothing else.

I’ve dropped the Wonder Woman main title, but when I was reading it there were no romantic plots of any kind being explored.

In the book they both appear in, Justice League, there is a romantic subplot, but it is the one I mentioned earlier involving Diana and Steve Trevor.

So I strongly suspect that this was a mandate from on high to capitalize on the publicity potential with no sight on the actual storytelling.

This is my biggest complaint about the current direction of DC comics. It feels like the bean counters are running the ship and making some really bad story telling decisions based on market analysis.

Time will tell.

Next week it will be one year since the reboot. I’ll be looking at how I feel about the individual titles. See you then.

A brief Guide to Convention Etiquette

Its convention time for me again. I will be attending GeekGirlCon this weekend to help at my wife’s vendor booth. Stop by the Twisted Kitten Creations booth and say hi.

As I prep for this con I find myself reflecting on a lot of things I have been noticing about the behavior of convention attendees. As such I would like to take the opportunity to go over some convention etiquette that I feel gets overlooked.

First off I would like to introduce you to a thing called situational awareness. The official definition is “the perception of elements in the environment within a volume of time and space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status in the near future.”  That mouthful is a very fancy way of saying being aware of your surroundings, and the people and events in it.

So why am I bringing this up when I want to talk about convention etiquette? It’s because I see a lot of situations at conventions where just a little situational awareness could make things a lot better.  An example is a group having a conversation at the bottom of a staircase blocking it off from people who need to go up or down, a person stopping in the middle of the convention floor to check their backpack and causing all the people behind them to have to stop quickly, or someone in a costume with protruding bits knocking over a vendor’s display. A convention by its very nature is going to be a crowded space, and as such it is really easy to end up tripping over each other. This can be made worse by some people who start to feel some crowd anxiety and start retreating into their own inner world to cope.

I want to be clear, I’m not saying be hyper vigilant. I am just saying make an effort to be aware of what is going and how your actions my impact the people around you.

This next one might seem like a no brainer, but in the environment of a convention can throw it off. The normal social standards of everyday life still apply. I’ll be honest; I am using this one as a catch all for a lot of issues that can crop up at a convention.

Yes, you are at a place where you are surrounded by people who share a particular interest. There are people dressed in a manner you do not normally see. You can meet, talk and bond with people over these shared interests. But these are still normal people and the normal social rules are still in effect.  Basically ask yourself this question, “Would what I am about to do or say be over the line at a mall or grocery store?” If the answer is yes, then it would be best to reconsider your actions. Also remember that people going to the convention may have shared interests, but other than that come from all walks of life. You may all have geek culture in common, but there will be a variety of different social, political, religious, sexual, and ethnic backgrounds.

Vendor and artist booths are another aspect of conventions that are prevalent, and can have some potential issues. Both are there in a business capacity. They are attempting to connect with a cliental that is unique to the convention environment. Unless it is specifically a promotional booth, they are there to make money, and even the promotional booth is trying to drum up business for whatever they are promoting. The one issue that can happen is if someone is really fascinated with whatever the booth is about, and hangs out trying to monopolize the attention of the vendor. It’s fine to come by and chat, just remember that these folks are there with a purpose and don’t distract them from paying customers.

There is one action that I want to point out, because I have seen it at too many conventions, and I do not know why this happens. It is something that if you saw it happen at store you would definitely go “WTF?”

Do not, I repeat do not touch a pregnant woman’s belly.

It feels weird that I had to write that sentence, but as I stated, I have seen it happen on several occasions. One friend while pregnant went so far as to have a shirt made up before a convention that said “You do not have permission to touch my belly.”

And with the topic of inappropriate touching broached, it is time I go right to the elephant in the room.

Harassment has been a subject of a lot of discussion in geek culture lately. When I wrote about misogyny in geek culture I covered some of it. And since then there have been tales of major lines being crossed at conventions. In particular the events at Readercon have brought the subject to the forefront. Go here if you would like to get the details.

Bottom line, don’t be a creeper. Yes there are attractive people at conventions, and yes they may well be wearing costumes that enhance that attractiveness. And if you are at a convention being held at a hotel there might be alcohol available.

None of that is permission to cross boundaries.

With everything I have gone over here the basics are simple. Keep aware of what you are doing. Be mindful of your actions and their consequences. Have a good time, just don’t have it at someone else’s expence.