Riding the Nudey Train All the Way to Nudesville to Sell DC Comics
Boobs sell comics. I realize this, I’m not a fool. Big, happy hooters have been at the forefront of superhero comics ever since Wonder Woman put on her first gold-emblazoned bustier. I have no problem with nudity and sex in comics. If it’s tasteful and serves a purpose, it can enhance the story or the character. But the extent to which DC Comics is trying to sell a lot of their female characters by putting them in the buff in their new #1 issues is making me feel leery about the whole line.
And the new Voodoo #1 this week may win the prize for the most exploitative.
Two-thirds of this issue take place in a strip club, where the title character is either on stage taking it off or in a private room giving a lap dance to a very sleazy guy. The fact that the guy is some kind of secret agent and the titular Voodoo is a space alien seems almost secondary. This is a comic about a strip club, and I felt as creeped out reading it as I did the last time I went to a strip club and got to sit next to a big, drunk guy who was not only really enjoying the show, but also had to keep telling me about it. DC Comics spends about as much time introducing us to Voodoo and the plot as it does telling us that there’s a good chance she’ll be naked or nearly naked in every issue!
So clearly all us lonely, geeky, basement-dwelling fan boys should buy Voodoo.
Full confession: I only bought Voodoo #1 because of the promise of boobs. I never read the character when she was in WildC.A.T.s, and I had no intention of picking up her new DC series that came out this week. But after my article last week on DC using sex and nudity to sell their female characters, I knew I wanted to follow up this week with Voodoo. My opinion remains the same: DC is exploiting their female characters in order to try and appeal to male comic book readers. This demeans both the character and the reader. It’s blatant and it’s obvious. Take a look at the very first page of Voodoo #1.
She is looking right at the reader, cleavage thrust out, with the word balloons declaring that “this is why you’re here! This is who you came to see!” They might as well put sirens on this comic declaring breasts.
Fortunately, while the art is pretty blatant, the writing isn’t as bad. I’m not so dense that I don’t see that writer Ron Marz might actually be very aware of the problem. This comic may even count as satire…to an extent. He’s not as exploitative to Voodoo as a character as some of the other comics have been, like Catwoman or Starfire. Yes, Voodoo spends a lot of the issue half-naked. But she’s sort of has a legitimate reason for it. She’s secretly an alien assuming human form. She discovered that all she has to do is flash this fake human body at men and she can learn a great deal about what this culture values. She’ll also make a ton of money.
Likewise, the scene set in the dressing room of the strip club has the girls explain that they’re doing this to support their kids, pay for college or save up to someday buy a bar at a beach. So the strippers and scantily-clad waitresses in this comic are not vapid, meaningless sex objects.
Credit Ron Marz, he handles the strip club with some class.
But it’s still a strip club and Voodoo is still naked through the book.
If this were any other month and any other comic with nudity in it, there wouldn’t be a big fuss. But this is DC’s big relaunch! They’re restarting all of their stories after 20+ years, with every series getting a new #1 issue to entice new readers. This is their sales tactic for attracting new readers.
And out of all of the 52 new #1 issues, Voodoo is the only comic that stars a brand new female character. Yes, she appeared in Wildstorm-published comics a few years ago, but I and a lot of other comic fans never read those comics. So DC is taking a very big risk in giving this unproven character her own series. Female-led books are a hard sell for both DC and Marvel. Obscure, unknown female characters are even harder. Other solo-female comics in this DC relaunch month include known brands like Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Batgirl.
I’m just eye-rollingly annoyed that DC thinks they only reason anyone would buy a Voodoo comic is if she’s naked. This is a good enough comic without that cheap titillation. Marz seems to have a good handle on the character and has a good idea where this is going to go storywise. This is a good first issue. We’re introduced to the main character, learn a bit about her and are presented with a bit of a mystery and a shocking twist ending that makes us want to keep reading. But none of that had to happen in a strip club with the main character half-naked all the time.
I’m going to buy issue #2. Not because of the possibility of nudity, but because I’m legitimately intrigued by the twist ending and where the story will go from here.
You don’t need to shove your boobs in my face to tell me a good story. In fact, if you do that…
I’m sorry, what were were talking about…?