DC Comics


    Mera Tidebreaker Interiors HR nocrops 168 d64ce

    During the dawn of comics we usually learned the origin story of female characters through the point of view of their male counterparts. Lois Lane exists in relation to Superman, and the same goes for other famous women in comics—it has taken a long time for female characters to have their own autonomy. 

    DC Ink is changing this in a large way. The new imprint geared towards YA audiences has launched an entire series of graphic novels with all-new origin stories, written by women, starring women.

    The first to launch the entire series, is Mera, written by Danielle Paige, the New York Times-bestselling author of the YA series Dorothy Must Die. Paige’s book is one of the rare times we have seen a graphic novel entirely focused on Mera’s origin from her point of view—which is kind of crazy when you come to think of it, since Mera may be even more powerful than Aquaman. Aquaman can speak to all the fish in the oceans, but Mera can control any liquid. Any. Liquid. 

    Paige’s take on Mera’s origin story is focused on her being heir of a throne that has been colonized by Atlantis. The Princess of Xebel, Mera is trained to speak politically and fight like a warrior. However, sea monarchies seem to be as outdated as land monarchs. Princess Mera is seen as a “the future wife” of the ruler of Xebel’s, instead of its rightful heir and ruler.

    She overhears her father offering his throne to whomever can bring down (murder) the prince of Atlantis who lives on land, Arthur (who will later become Aquaman). Of course, he overlooks his own daughter Mera. She decides to take her fate in her own hands, leaving the ocean in order to bring down Arthur and become Xebel’s rightful ruler. 

    Paige has written an epic worthy of any hero. Of course, murder is easier said than done: Mera finds herself grappling with ethics of killing someone she barely knows in order to gain her throne. 

    Mera Tidebreaker Interiors HR nocrops 14 ddc78

    When Paige was first approached by DC Comics, she pitched an Aquaman “Little Mermaid” story. The editors at DC felt Mera’s story may have been a better fit, since Paige wanted to tackle colonization under the sea and Mera came from a colony. (It is also super important to note the latest author of the Aquaman series is female comic author Kelly Sue DeConnick who also wrote Captain Marvel). 

    Mera is targeted towards a YA audience, but Paige doesn’t shy away from real world politics and little bit of Game of Thronesinspiration. “When I was writing this story, so many political things were happening in the world and I wanted the world under the sea to reflect our world,” Paige told BUST. “I wanted Mera to have to deal with those things. Also, I love building worlds like that.”

    Many outside of the YA community may think this is radical, but for YA audiences, this is not surprising. By focusing on real world issues, Paige was not only writing about the world, but was also acknowledging the role young people have been playing in shaping our politics.  

    “I think that kids are very concerned about the future right now. They are very active, and they’re activists, even. I think that [Mera] reflects what’s going on in our world, under the sea,” Paige tells BUST.  

    Paige is also setting an important trend with the Mera story. Prior to this book Mera was mostly known as Aquaman’s girlfriend, but Mera has her own struggles and is a badass, too.

    “Mera has a lot of agency, and usually when we look at the Aquaman story, in the versions I’ve gotten to read, she’s always the catalyst of his story. So I think having her as an assassin in this case and doing it for her own land made a lot of sense,” Paige tells BUST.  

    Mera Tidebreaker Interiors HR nocrops 14 27e36

    It is also a hero’s journey from the perspective of a woman, which we so rarely get. “I gravitate towards strong female characters. With Dorothy and Amy in my books I want to empower girls, but I also want boys to see how powerful women are as well. Also, when I was growing up and I was reading comics I never thought there would be a place for me in comics. And on a very personal note, the fact that women can be the writers of comics is special.”

    DC Comics have recognized the power and importance of girls and women in the industry. We are buying movie tickets, selling out merch, and hell yes, we read comics. We want more female-centered, feminist stories. “I literally think of it as the creation of a superhero, and finding who you’re going to be. And I feel like it’s something kids are doing right now. That’s part of the arch of adulthood,” Paige says. 

    Making sure that Mera had a strong story was essential to Paige, but what was equally important was the need for the pages to be ethnically diverse. 

    “It was very important to me, and we worked very hard with the artists and the colorist to make sure there was color on the pages. As a woman of color, I think that it’s really important that there is representation,” she says.

    This representation also mirrors who gets to become a creator. What’s amazing is that Paige, an author who never thought she’d be able to write comics, now has a book that’s launching an entire series of comics written by women and starring DC’s most famous females. 

    “This entire line is very female driven and the more you see yourself on the page and in a powerful position, the more you’re going to feel there is a place for you behind the page. I think DC is making a huge effort to reach out to writers of color and to women,” she says. “When I was kid, I used to never think of myself writing a comic. I loved reading things and watching things in the comic book space but I never imagined that there was a place for me, and now there is.” 

    Mera is currently available in bookstores and comic shops. 

    Photos courtesy of DC Comics

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  • classic wonderwoman1 e1498305169640 84b80

    Like any superhero, Wonder Woman has a pretty complicated origin story. Born out of both feminism and misogyny, Diana Prince was the creation of psychologist Dr. William Moulton Marston. The good doctor had been bought in by the famed comics powerhouse DC to create a female superhero that would silence critics who called DC sexist and overly masculine.

    Wonder Woman first appeared in 1941 and her unique brand of red, white, and blue heroism seemed like just the superhero feminism DC needed.

    original concept art for wonder woman 1941 e1498242304120 66422Original concept art for Wonder Woman

    Dr. Moulton Marston was a self-confessed staunch feminist…just, you know, the kind of ‘feminist’ that might happily crack, ‘get back in the kitchen and make me a sandwich’ jokes. (We’ll get to that!)

    For his era, Marsten was a new type of man. He talked about gender equality and believed in things like female contraception. He also had some pretty radical feminist theories: that is, he believed that women were the superior sex, held back by a societal duty to be housewives.

    He also led a progressive life for the time, living with both his wife, Elizabeth Holloway Marsten, and lover, Olive Byrne. To avoid scandal, the trio told outsiders that Olive was their widowed sister…who just happened to give birth to Marsten’s kids.

    gasp gif 79783Yeah, I'm sure that excuse totally flew.

    Olive and Elizabeth were children of the suffrage movement, with Olive’s mother having both opened the USA’s first contraception clinic and been the first woman in the US to go on hunger strike as part of the fight for suffrage. Elizabeth, meanwhile, was 1 of just 3 women to graduate in her law class.

    oliver byre elizabeth holloway and thier partner and wonder woman creator dr william marsten a69dfOlive, Elizabeth, and Dr. Marston test out a lie detector.

    On top of living with two incredibly strong women and holding some strong feminist views, Marsten was pretty sexually liberal (which you probably got from the whole living with both wife AND lover thing) and an ardent member of the BDSM community.


    wonder woman tied up 197ff

    Believe me when I say, Wonder Woman spent a lot of her time tied up, manacled, chained and gagged. Though she used her lasso of truth to pin down bad guys, her main source of weakness was being captured and tied up…because…reasons.

    Marsten was always hands on with his work, BUT he was particularly specific around art work that showed Wonder Woman bound (no idea why…).

    His heroine was seen trussed up and tied in almost every issue, with Marsten enthusiastically telling his editors:


    But not all women did. Dorothy Roubicek, the first female editor at DC, took issue with Wonder Woman’s treatment. Marsten shrugged off her concerns, explaining that:


    eye roll fe9d8See what I meant about the sandwich jokes?

    But despite all of this, Wonder Woman’s origin story remained revolutionary for the time.

    Okay: yes, part of the reason she leaves her home and comes to America is because she falls in love with a man. BUT she also goes because she’s heard that America is one of earth’s last hopes for female equality and that there’s a whole bunch of men trying to fuck that shit up; so, naturally, she needs to stop this through the medium of ass-kicking.

    wonder woman justice league gif b476aA whole lot of ass-kicking!

    Marston said Wonder Woman was created for:


    Now, let’s all be in agreement, this is incredibly badass for the 1940s! Is it any wonder then that this new type of hero started to inspire girls to become real world heroes?

    But all of this amazing ass-kicking quickly stopped when, in 1947, Marsten died. His death was pretty much immediately followed by:



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    All this left Wonder Woman without a leader and easy prey to the super-dickery that was now gripping comic books.

    And so Wonder Woman spending a lot of the 1950s writing a love advice column and dreaming of marriage, babies, and a career as a model.

    img 2835 93176via Giphy

    But that wasn’t to say Wonder Woman’s initial radicalism had been forgotten! The little girls she had inspired in the ’40s were now all grown up and spearheading a new wave of feminism.

    Wonder Woman was the cover star of feminist magazine Ms. in 1972. Gloria Steinem explained how vital Diana Prince was to this movement:


    In 1975 Diana Prince set out to inspire a new generation of children, when she made her TV debut with hit live action series Wonder Woman.

    But Wonder Woman was more than a TV show. It soon turned into a national debate as to what exactly was proper attire for saving the world – a debate which has continued to this day… just now on a global scale!

    The most recent actress to play Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot, has faced plenty of criticism on her costume and physique – during a recent TV interview Gadot was told she was too skinny and flat-chested to play Wonder Woman (no, I don’t get this logic either.)

    Fortunately, Gal Gadot can read a bitch out, and told the reporter that Amazon women of old actually only had one breast so they could have more space for their bow and arrow.

    Sadly, this was far from the first time Diana Prince had to clap back. In 1942, Wonder Woman was actually banned for a short time, all because of her dress attire! Wonder Women’s knee high skirt, bodice and knee high boots were seen as incredibly skimpy and likely to induce wide spread ‘lesbianism’ among impressionable young girls. And Lynda Carter’s 1970s Wonder Woman was as known for her tiny waist and low cut costume as she was her feminism and world saving.

    In fact, just this year, Lynda Carter had to slam sexism yet again, after Wonder Woman lost an honorary UN ambassador role, following complaints the character was too sexualized.

    For those wondering, the UN Ambassador role Wonder Woman lost was to fight gender inequality…

    But if we can learn anything from Wonder Woman, it’s how to keep on busting walls down despite the adversity. Now with the mammoth success of her character on the big screen, it looks like Wonder Woman is set to become a hero to a whole new generation of girls.

    Born from both suffrage and misogyny, she opened the door for female superheroes in comics, sparked the imaginations of fledgling female leaders, and is now kicking the door down on the future of female-led blockbusters. She may be in her 70s, but Wonder Woman’s got a lot of fight left in her.

    This article originally appeared on F Yeah Historyand has been reprinted here with permission.

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  • FEMFUR 2 2 a0e6f

    When comic books first came about, they were supposed to be stories about heroes saving the day, and by today’s standards many comics from the golden period would be considered sexist, no matter how strong the central female character was. 

    Thankfully, in 2019, this has been changing. More women and marginalized voices are writing comics, and more comics are starting to address larger, societal issues. One such comic is Cecil Castellucci’s newest work with DC Comics, the six-issue mini series Female Furies.

    Set on the hell planet Apokolips, Granny Goodness (a well-known villain of the New Gods) is in charge of the Female Furies, an all-female team of villains. Granny was the only woman working on Darkseid’s team and she founded the Furies. (Darkseid is the tyrannical leader of planet Apokolips, and one of the most powerful evil beings in the DC). Granny, a product of her time, put up with sexual harassment—she saw it as a price that must be paid in order to get what she wanted. 

    The story dives into the world of the Furies and the sexual, emotional and physical abuse they face from their male colleagues.Granny Goodness was the only woman on Darkseid’s team, and as a result, she experienced sexual harassment as a young woman; years later, when the Female Furies are assembled, that harassment—and the expectation to accept it—continues.

    What makes the book interesting is that Apokolips is a hell planet where villains live and all the women are villains, but Castellucci manages to bring empathy to these characters who, at first glance, might not be so sympathetic.

    Castellucci came up with the idea after finishing her run on Shade the Changing Girl with DC’s Young Animal imprint. Castellucci says she was interested in doing something within the DC Universe and approached DC co-publisher Dan Didio with various ideas. “They were all very boy-heavy, and referencing ‘boy’ pop culture things and I said ‘ugh, well, where’s your Handmaid’s Tale?’ And he said ‘well, that is a very interesting thought,’” Castellucci told BUST at Chicago’s Comic Con C2E2. “And he said, ‘well, if you can crack Female Furies with that kind of lens, then you know we can talk.’”

    Castellucci went home and read Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus and was inspired instead to create a story relevant to the #MeToo movement. 

    “I already knew going in—and they already knew I was going to be talking about real world issues that we’re dealing with, and looking at the Female Furies through that lens,” Castellucci said. 

    Castellucci took a lot from Fourth World Omnibus. She says she was struck by how much of the story she was writing she pulled from Kirby’s book, which also focuses on the world of Apokolips. “I’m just turning up the volume on some of the things that are already inherent in that book. It’s not that Jack Kirby was sexist or anything like that—it’s just that he was a product of his time, and he was looking at things in a much different way,” she explained.

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    In the news and the zeitgeist, we seem to finally be reckoning with how widespread sexual misconduct and sexism is across industries. Industries that have been purveyors of sexism, whether on purpose or unintentionally, are rethinking the roles they’ve played in toxic cultures that modern movements are addressing. And in the comics world, this could mean either the characters and the content or the people working in the industry themselves.

    DC Comics fired editor Eddie Berganza in 2017 after allegations came forward of him forcebly gropping or kissing coworkers. In 2018, DC’s Vertigo imprint abruptly ended a very successful comic, Border Town, after sexual abuse allegations surfaced against creator Eric Esquivel. These companies are starting to believe victims and do the work to undo years of harmful thinking, whether that thinking relates to how women and marginalized voices are portrayed, who gets hired to tell these important stories, and which stories are being told.  

    “We don’t need to accept that [there’s] only way to tell a story. You know, with diversity with women, we have stories too, and we’re part of it. So when you look at the Fourth World, the Female Furies and the women are almost non-existent, they’re so much in the corner of that story. I’m just bringing them to the center of the story,” Castellucci said. “And I have to give credit to DC Comics for making it a mainstream comic. I feel like that’s number one. The more you make these stories not on the fringe but sort of the main titles, I think that’s going to help.”

    On that note, Castellucci said she hopes her work reaches audiences that might not necessarily know much about the world of comics, or the world of Apokolips. “I think that what I find with a lot of my comic books, like the Plane Janes, or Shade the Changing Girlor Female Furies, they are entryways that someone who loves comics can give to someone who doesn’t yet read comics,” she said.

    These comics are not only ways of engaging new people with comics, but also a tool to enable audiences to talk about issues including harrassment and sexism. Castellucci said she doesn’t want to just preach to the choir but, instead, give the choir a book to put in the hands of someone within the community who doesn’t know or understand the issue.

    “My goal [as a writer] is what I think our goal as women is: is to have agency,” she told BUST. “Self-agency and control over our bodies and our destinies so, you know, that’s where I’m hoping that we go.

    “I think what the Female Furies awaken to is that everything’s not fair, but it’s even more not fair to them, and all they want is for it to be equally unfair as it is for everyone else. I think that’s an [idea we can see] in the real world as well,” Castellucci told BUST. 

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    Female Furies issues 1-3 are currently available.

    Photos courtesy of DC Comics

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