DC Comics hasn’t been doing so well lately, but denying Batwoman her happy marriage pales in comparison to the recent news. What news is that? Maybe you heard about a contest recently for new DC artists. That’s right, you too can be an artist for DC Comics! What’s the catch?
You have to draw Harley Quinn committing suicide. Naked. Yep, you heard that right.
DC Comics recently stated that they will be releasing a free essentials guide to their graphic novels. This guide will be sent to fans, comic shops, and libraries. It is also notably lacking in women.
Certain characters have received multi-page spreads in this book. Most of these characters are the ones that you’d expect, such as Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, The Flash, and, weirdly, Green Arrow. Perhaps Green Arrow was given his very own spread because he is currently a popular character due to the TV show Arrow, but Green Arrow has never been a part of the main lineup of DC superheroes.
You know who is, though? Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman, who is an Amazon, member of the Trinity, and one of the main leaders of the Justice League, does not get her own multi-page spread with her fellow superheroes. Neither do any other female superheroes—not even Batwoman, who is one of DC’s top selling female-led comics along with Batgirl and Wonder Woman (source).
So where are the women in this “essential” guide? In a two-page spread called “Women of DC”. The only women featured in this section are Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Batwoman, Catwoman, and Huntress. Yes, the ladies have been screwed over.
Furthermore, no women or men of color are being featured. There’s no sign of Cyborg, Cassandra Cain, Mister Terrific, Static Shock, Katana, or Vixen.
This book says a lot about who DC Comics are trying to promote and sell to. Remember, this guide is going to be used not just by fans but by comic shop owners and libraries to determine what graphic novels they should order. It has often been said by creators and companies alike that ‘for some reason’ the comics which don’t feature white heterosexual male characters don’t do as well. Well, maybe that has less to do with what DC’s readers want and more to do with how they promote their characters. Just a thought, DC.
Simone eventually released a statement on her tumblr saying how grateful she was to work on Batgirl and thanked DC for the opportunity. You can read her statement here.
The dismissal of Gail Simone from Batgirl is confusing, infuriating, and altogether disheartening, especially when it affects a beloved character and reveals how DC seems to show so little regard for their female employees.
DC has not stated why Simone was removed from the Batgirl title, nor has it been mentioned who would be replacing Simone, or if she would be writing on any other titles.
It’s very strange indeed that Simone is being removed, especially from this book. Simone, herself pointed out how her run on the current Batgirl was praised twice in the New York Times and had many sell-out issues. Furthermore, Gail Simone and Batgirl go together like peanut butter and jelly. There is no one better than an author who has been writing Barbara Gordon’s character since long before the reboot. Her writing on Birds of Prey and her interpretation of Barbara as Oracle moved many people, and has made Simone, in my opinion, one of the greatest and most well-known comic book writers in the industry.
Okay, first I want to explain a few things about Poison Ivy so that we can better understand her sexuality within the context of her character development.
Poison Ivy is an ecoterrorist and a straw feminist. A straw feminist is a character who is labelled as a feminist only in a effort to ridicule or prove feminism wrong.
I should also mention that there is such a thing as an ecofeminist, who believes that the oppression women have suffered is similar to the suffering and oppression inflicted on the environment. This form of feminism, like most other forms, dislikes a hierarchy that puts one group above another, whether it’s men over women or humans over the environment, and recognizes more of a symbiotic relationship of all things.
So, Poison Ivy, at her worst, is probably a straw ecofeminist. She hates all men and cares only for plants, but in later years, maybe in an effort to down play her original straw feminist bent, Poison Ivy starts to hate all of humanity. In current incarnations Poison Ivy herself has morphed into a plant like human and she believes that humanity should be wiped out since they harm nature. Despite her hatred of all humanity, there is one person Poison Ivy does seem to care about, Harley Quinn.
It would be easy to simply claim Poison Ivy is asexual since she seems completely uninterested in people. Despite often seducing them to achieve her own ends, Poison Ivy never seems to have genuine attraction or affection for anyone. It would also be easy to claim Poison Ivy is a lesbian since she only seems to care about Harley Quinn, but things are much more complex than that.
Before she was Poison Ivy, she was Pamela Lillian Isley, a botanist working with Dr. Jason Woodrue who seduced her and turned her into the plant-human hybrid she is today. Woodrue is the reason that Poison Ivy hates all men. And though I stated that eventually her story is changed to hating all people, Poison Ivy still has a special hatred for men. Batman, Two-Face, Woodrue, and especially the Joker are targets for her wrath against men. That doesn’t, however, mean she’s not attracted to men. As mentioned earlier Poison Ivy’s hatred of men is there to paint her as this straw feminist character, but she is still obviously interested in men. She liked Woodrue before he betrayed her, and in season two of Batman: The Animated Series in the episode “Home and Garden” Poison Ivy married her very male doctor. Yes, he’s later revealed to be a plant, but she could have made a female spouse if she was more into that.
So, I really think that Poison Ivy isn’t necessarily a lesbian. She has just been given this male-hating persona, which somehow equates to lesbian, sadly. Even in recent years making her hate all people hasn’t changed the fact that she defiantly hates men more.
Later, Poison Ivy is often paired with Harley Quinn when the two form an unlikely friendship. Harley is the only person Poison Ivy seems to like or care about. Though it’s never explicitly stated that they have a sexual relationship it is heavily, heavily implied.
They are often shown scantily clad, or naked together, and even Batgirl has questions about their relationship. They both seem to really care about each other too. It has often been remarked that if it wasn’t for Harley constantly intervening, Poison Ivy would have killed the Joker a long time ago in order to protect Harley. And though much of their relationship could easily be attributed to a male lesbian fantasy in comics, I tend to think that they actually have something.
Poison Ivy seems to be stuck in the friend zone with Harley. I do think that Harley and Poison Ivy have maybe experimented sexually, but Harley if anything is more Joker-sexual than bisexual and her devotion to the Joker won’t allow her to make any commitment to Poison Ivy. Harley is beaten and almost killed by the Joker and then runs to Poison Ivy’s comforting arms, Poison Ivy then wants to kill the Joker to avenge Harley, but Harley stops her and goes back to the Joker–and the cycle continues.
There is no concrete evidence for their relationship, but I think there is a lot of circumstantial evidence that shows Poison Ivy loves Harley Quinn, maybe even despite herself, but Harley is too involved with the Joker to see Poison Ivy as anything but a friend, thus bringing about the central conflict in their relationship.