Gendercrunching #DCRebirth Against DC You And The New 52

Posted by March 28, 2016 Comment

This is a Gendercrunching Special from Tim Hanley.

On Saturday at WonderCon, DC Comics announced the creators behind their brand new line up of mainline superhero comics, promising a return to the classic feel of the DC Comics universe that the New 52 relaunch had been lacking. While not a full reboot, it’s a sizeable shift for DC that will bring bold, new directions to their series. It’s also a contraction of the line; instead of 52 books a month, DC will put out about 30 different titles, many of which will double ship each month.

With the creators now announced, we can take a look at how the gender representation of the people behind the books stacks up against DC’s last two big initiatives, the New 52 relaunch in September 2011 and the #DCYou mini-relaunch from last June. DC’s only officially announced the writers and artists for their Rebirth titles (most of them, anyway; there are a few TBDs in the mix), and so I’ve adjusted the other numbers accordingly to reflect just the writers and artists. While some Rebirth cover artists were mentioned offhand and we can guess at several others, we don’t have all of them so we’ll go with only the official data DC’s announced. This is the result:

genderREBIRTHa

The numbers are definitely higher than the New 52, but it would be hard not to be. Rebirth is a big drop from last year’s #DCYou, though, with female artists taking the largest hit and ending up more than halved. Female writers didn’t fare great either, tumbling about a quarter, and the combined total fell well over a third.

But these are just for the announced titles, which isn’t quite reflective of what the actual line will be. With so many books double shipping, it makes sense to adjust the stats accordingly. So, rather than Tom King getting credited once for Batman, he’ll get credited for both issues he’ll write each month; Hope Larson, meanwhile, stays credited only once for the monthly Batgirl. For artists, I split up the numbers; for example, instead of counting Nicola Scott and Liam Sharp together on Wonder Woman, they each got credited in separate issues. This shook things up slightly:

genderREBIRTHb

Factoring in the double shipping results in an even bigger drop for female writers. Amanda Conner is the only woman writing a book that double ships; the rest have men at the helm. The art numbers improved very slightly just because of All Star Batman; rather than crediting the many artists who’ll be working over the course of the series as I did in the first count, I just went with John Romita Jr. for its monthly outing. All together, the combined percentage ticked down a bit with this count, making the already substantial drop just a smidge bigger.

After seeing such impressive growth for female creators at DC from the New 52 to #DCYou, it’s disheartening to see such a sizeable fall in representation with Rebirth. While there are a few new names in the mix, a lot of the mainstay female creators in DC’s superhero line are nowhere to be seen. It will be interesting to see how the numbers shake out down the road when we look at the full stats.

DC’s Rebirth line also shows a slight drop for female creators. Looking at the same three moments (and taking into account the shipping schedule with the various bi-monthly books), the number of comics headlined by male characters keeps moving up bit by bit, while the series led by female characters is down slightly from their increased #DCYou numbers:

genderREBIRTHc

The gains for male-led books are noticeable though not huge, but the drop for female-led titles is small enough to not be terribly statistically significant. Nonetheless, a revamp of the line that doesn’t increase the representation of female characters is a step back for DC.

When we combine the female-led books with team books that also feature female characters, women were in a starring or co-starring role in 50% of DC’s books in the New 52 and 47.9% for #DCYou. With Rebirth, that combined total has fallen to 41.3%. Again, it’s not a drastic shift, but the numbers are lower than they were just a year ago.

So on both fronts, creators and characters, female representation at DC Comics is lower with Rebirth than it was for their last big initiative. DC had made big strides for representation since the mess that was the New 52 relaunch, but they’re poised to move backwards now. At least the rest of the line will remain largely intact, so if the digital-first and Vertigo books continue as they are now then those areas should remain a decent bastion of female creators. There’s also a lot of time until June, and shake-ups always come. The names on the books a few months down the road way well have some surprises. However, this first look at Rebirth isn’t terribly encouraging.

To learn more about this statistics project and its methodology click here, and to see the previous stats click here. You can visit Tim at Straitened Circumstances and follow him on Twitter @timhanley01. His first book Wonder Woman Unbound is available now, and his new book Investigating Lois Lane: The Turbulent History of the Daily Planet’s Ace Reporter was just released.

(Last Updated September 28, 2016 7:18 pm )