Anyone who listens to my podcast or reads my reviews and columns knows I have a strong interest in women characters and, in particular, female leads.
There’s a show called Deadtown being developed by Amazon Studios featuring deceased women that sounds tremendously engaging, and it should be turned into a comic if that isn’t underway already!
JUST WHAT IS ‘DEADTOWN?’
I recently came across this story at Deadline: Hollywood, and it sparked my interest, particularly since it would make a wonderful comic series. Here are a few important paragraphs from that news item:
Amazon Studios has stepped up for Deadtown, an Entertainment One and Grey Matter Entertainment script that will be developed for a pilot by Shauna Cross. Deadtown is an adaptation of the Catherynne M. Valente novella The Refrigerator Monologues, and the hour-long premise is a blueprint to create an original superhero universe set in the modern era with an underlying theme of female empowerment.
Five recently-dead women meet in Deadtown, a purgatory where they discover that their entire lives were merely in service to the superhero men they happened to cross paths with, resulting in each of their deaths. Or in comic book terms, they were ‘refrigerated’ – frozen out of the story once they provided emotional backstory for the men. Until now. They start to discover their own powers, tell their sides of the narrative, and decide to write their own damn stories. And a group of seemingly ordinary women discovers their own true power. It’s a subversive, kick-ass exploration of what it means for women to find their inner power – and use it.
This is one of the most fascinating and creative uses of women characters I’ve encountered, and it doesn’t even bother me that they’re all dead! They don’t sound like sidekicks, although I expect at least one of them will be.
This just screams Dark Horse or Image Comics to me. Are the folks at those companies paying attention?
WOMEN TAKING CENTER STAGE
It’s a great time for women characters, be they superheroes or not. I mean, we just got the second trailer for the upcoming Captain Marvel movie. Comics such as Catwoman and Batgirl are also doing an excellent job of showing women in varying roles, not just maternal ones. (I have some lady friends who believe a female lead should talk predicaments through, not ever resorting to violence. I find that restrictive, but that may be just me.)
Then there are comics creators such as Joelle Jones and Marguerite Bennett who are making wonderful books that are capturing the attention of fans regardless of gender.
The one thing I’d really like to see happen more often is giving female leads their own rogues galleries. I’ve often gone on previously about how disappointed I am when Supergirl fights leftover baddies from Superman. She’s a great hero in her own right, and that should mean she gets her own villains to tangle with. Really!
The question I keep running into, though, is whether a woman hero should be fighting female or male baddies. Frankly, I think both work well. Wonder Woman has foes like Cheetah and Dr. Psycho, for instance. No reason to discriminate here!
THE FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT
When I see creative storytelling like Deadtown on the horizon, I’m very encouraged. After all, good stories are good vehicles to promote a good future. Showing women in a positive light will never be a bad thing, I believe!
It’s interesting to me that when I interview women comics pros and ask them about how far the industry has come when it comes to female creators and characters, they often prefer not to talk about it. “We’re glad things have progressed this far,” they often tell me, and they don’t want to elaborate any further, whatever their reason.
Well, to me, anyway, it’s still a BIG deal!
Perhaps someday I’ll feel like we’ve finally arrived, and I won’t feel the need to talk about it, but we aren’t there yet! We’re definitely moving in the right direction, but I still think we can make big strides in this area in the upcoming months and years.