Darkseid’s Daughter is Everything Wrong with Comics Today
Since the very beginning of the New 52 at DC Comics, writer Geoff Johns has been teasing the Darkseid War, an epic battle between the villainous Darkseid and the equally villainous Anti-Monitor. They are two of DC’s biggest bad guys, the sorts of villains who could threaten the entire universe, and Johns is going to send them to war against each other — with the Earth and the Justice League likely caught in the middle. As a comic book fan, that sounds incredibly awesome.
But I cannot abide by the utter garbage that is a key player in this war: Darkseid’s daughter. Introduced this past week in Justice League #40 and DC’s Free Comic Book Day prologue, Darkseid’s daughter is everything that’s wrong with comic books today.
Prepare yourself, this is definitely going to be an angry geek ranting about comics on the Internet.
Look at her, just look at her! The very sight of this character makes my skin crawl due to annoyance. Has DC learned nothing from their own success? Does the massive fan support of the new Batgirl comic mean nothing to them? I see this new character and I roll my eyes at how much of a colossal step backwards she is for comic books. It’s not 2011 anymore, DC! And it’s definitely not the 1990s!
If their upcoming summer rebranding is a sign that DC actually has learned a few lessons and is going to change for the better, Darkseid’s daughter is their one last hurrah for idiocy.
And if you need further proof that this character is ridiculous, her name is Grail. Yeah, exactly. She is a work of zero creativity.
Join me after the jump so I can actually explain why I’m ranting at you today.
We don’t know a how lot about Grail yet, and I suppose there’s always time for DC to change my mind. What we do know is that she is the daughter of Darkseid and an Amazon, born on Paradise Island around the same time as Wonder Woman. At some point, she became the prisoner of A.R.G.U.S., the government agency responsible for keeping track of metahumans.
When Darkseid attacked Earth in the first Justice League storyline of the New 52, he was doing so in search of his daughter.
So clearly Johns has been planning this since the very start of the New 52.
Then in a random issue of the Vibe comic, we learned that Darkseid’s daughter had escaped A.R.G.U.S., keeping the breadcrumb trail going.
In this weekend’s Free Comic Book Day issue, we learned her origin on Themyscira.
And in Justice League #40, we learned that she is allied with the Anti-Monitor in the upcoming war. That is all we know about Grail at this point. But I contend that we don’t need to learn her backstory, her personality or anything else about her to hate her.
This one time, I’m telling you that it’s OK to judge a book by its cover. Take another look at Grail.
She looks like every single ‘badass warrior woman’ who has ever existed. She looks like any female superhero created in the 90s, all super model looks and exactly zero personality. Her entire look is a cliche. She’s got a super model’s body, a super model’s face, super model hair, and her costume is not only pedestrian, but it’s designed to show off as much cleavage and skin as possible.
Are we really still designing female comic book characters to show off that much cleavage in 2015?!
Here is a collection of female superhero costumes and redesigns from the past couple of years. You should notice some very obvious trends, and these trends are at a major discussion in the comic industry these days.
These women look like real women dressed in practical clothing that actually covers their bodies. This represents real forward movement. The days of bikini costumes and Escher Girls are supposed to be over! Even Wonder Woman is trading in her classic skin-baring costume for something more conservative and realistic.
But not Grail, nope! She knows the value of showing skin.
Take a look at Grail’s father, Darkseid. He is arguably one of the most iconic and legendary super villains in all of comics.
Now that is a look! Darkseid is a monstrous, halting figure, with an iconic look that chills you to your bone. Here is an evil, intergalactic demon king, ruling over lesser beings as if its his divine purpose.
So why couldn’t Grail have been given even a fraction of his character?
Yes, she’s got his gray skin, but it might as well be baby soft from what we can see. Give her a human skin tone and she could be anybody’s daughter. Heck, give her a caucasian skin tone and she’s just an evil Wonder Woman.
And let’s consider her name for a moment. Grail? What the hell is that supposed to mean?
Modern day superhero naming conventions are all about taking a cool-sounding noun, tangentially related to the character, and just using that. Gone are the days of ‘Batman’ or ‘Spider-Man’ or ‘Wonder Woman’. Despite those being some of the most classic names in comics, that’s just not how comic book characters are named in this day and age.
These days we’ve got Silk, Quake and Manifold, classics like Cable and Spawn, all of the Secret Warriors, almost all of the Young Avengers. The X-Men are filled with such names, but then one could argue that the original X-Men started the trend with guys like Beast, Angel and Cyclops.
‘Grail’ is one of the worst ones. Who names somebody ‘Grail’? The name doesn’t make any sense whatsoever for the character — unless, obviously, you know that the ‘Holy Grail’ is a popular thing and that when you take away the ‘Holy’ part, you’re left with a word that sounds slightly badass.
That is the extent of the thought that went into her name. Forget something as cool and as menacing as ‘Darkseid’, or as complex as ‘Orion’ for Darkseid’s son. Just pick a random, cool-sounding word and go with that for his daughter!
Grail is a character who was clearly designed by committee, designed to fulfill some backwards, no-longer-revelant view of female characters in comics. The least amount of thought possible went into her character design, and it frustrates the heck out of me.
Last Fall, DC gave us a new Batgirl (which they were reluctant to do), and its success is going to change the fact of their entire publishing line. But before all of that happens, somebody at DC really wants a cleavage-baring, warrior woman cliche to be the face of the company.
She was the focal point of the Free Comic Book day issue, for crying out loud! Grail is the character that DC wanted to sell to everybody who picked up their free issue.
Ah well, whatever. Ranting gets me nowhere. Maybe she’ll have a nice personality.