I have to admit, there is nothing more inspiring and empowering than seeing millions upon millions of people uniting all over the world for the same cause. For the first time since Brexit and the US election, I was actually feeling hopeful and optimistic for the future. Just as I was getting ready to give up the fight, feeling that everything we've done has been futile, millions of people reminded me that no, I am not alone in my sentiments, and that we are all in this together. Even though the US government has been usurped by a regressive, racist, misogynist, and homophobic minority that empower the likes of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party, there are still millions of people out there who will stand up and say "no, we do NOT accept this outcome."
Well, I got inspired today. I got inspired to finally put into words what I've been wanting to say for a whole year, and it took a freedom march to finally come up with the right words to say. I've written Geoff Johns a letter officially petitioning for Helena Wayne's inclusion in Justice Society Rebirth as well as the revival of Legend of Wonder Woman Vol. 2 with Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon as the creative team. Unfortunately, in detailing my reasons for wanting both things, I couldn't be keep the letter short, but I hope that it will make a difference all the same.
I will be dropping this off in the mail tomorrow. I don't know if Geoff Johns will see it, or even read it, but I hope he will. Like every DC fan reading Rebirth right now, I hope that this year and every year after, we will finally get back the the Helena Wayne and Justice Society we want to read about, and I hope too that DC decides to keep publishing Legend of Wonder Woman, especially with her movie about to come out in a few months.
Below is the letter I will be sending to DC President and CCO, Geoff Johns.
January 21, 2017
2900 West Alameda Ave.
Burbank, CA 91505
Dear Geoff Johns:
First, I would like to say Happy New Year and congratulations on your promotion to DC president and executive position on DC Films. I also want to congratulate you on the success of DC Universe Rebirth. As someone who obsessively tracks direct market sales, I know for certain DC Universe Rebirth has successfully pulled DC’s sales back up to a better place than what they were in 2015. I would like to say thank you for getting things back on track and for making us all feel excited for DC again.
The purpose for this letter, Geoff, is to petition for Helena Wayne’s inclusion in Justice Society Rebirth this year and for DC to revive Legend of Wonder Woman Vol. 2 by Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon. I admit, it’s pretty serendipitous that I would be writing this petition to you because it was your work on Justice Society of America Annual #1 that made me fall in love with the character of Helena Wayne, her friendship with Power Girl, her world of Earth-2, DC’s Golden Age continuity, and ultimately the Justice Society.
Your work on JSA Classified, Infinite Crisis, and Justice Society of America (2007) were the stories that made me a DC fan for life, a huge collector of DC’s pre-Crisis comics, and most importantly, they were the stories that meant the most to me as an individual. They got me through the darkest times in my life and continue to inspire me as I continue to sail through the seas of life and all of its complexities, especially as a bisexual Latina woman who is now living in an era of Donald Trump and Brexit. Like many others in my position, the next four years won’t be easy and I’ll be actively fighting to keep the progress we’ve worked so hard to achieve. But one thing I am strongly looking forward to is Justice Society Rebirth, and with it, hopefully a return of the classic Helena Wayne Huntress, along with Power Girl and Fury with their more classic origins reinstated.
Among the reasons I feel Helena Wayne needs to come back to Prime Earth for Justice Society Rebirth are as follows:
- She is the daughter of the Golden Age Batman and Catwoman. We don’t have anyone representing that Golden Age Batman legacy on Prime Earth and that is one of Helena Wayne’s major selling points.
- She brings gender diversity to an exclusive male line of Batman successors on Prime Earth. At the moment, we only have Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, and Damian Wayne—all sons of Bruce—in line to continue that legacy. He has zero daughters. Helena being Bruce Wayne’s daughter with Selina Kyle (DC’s second most iconic couple right after Lois and Clark) is another major selling point of her character, and one that is bound to attract fans of Batman and Catwoman, which are as massive as the ones for Superman and Lois Lane.
- She is a member of the classic Justice Society and an important part of their legacy. (She was, after all, their lawyer during the events of America vs. The Justice Society by the amazing Roy Thomas).
- She is best friends with Power Girl, which makes her and Kara the second generation World’s Finest team on Earth-2, and the World’s Finest team that’s unique to the Justice Society. Her pairing with Power Girl also provides a nice contrast to the Super Sons (Jon Kent and Damian Wayne), which I feel is another reason to revive their World’s Finest book on Prime Earth for the Rebirth era. It has also been my personal observation that LGBTQA fans of DC Comics responded very strongly to their relationship in the New 52 Worlds’ Finest series and would like to see more done with this pair.
- In addition to being a part of two iconic DC legacies, Helena Wayne is also a character with her own superhero identity, personality, and life that’s very different from those of her iconic parents. The fact that she chose the name of “The Huntress” to honor both sides of her heritage instead of becoming “Batwoman” or “Catwoman II” is one of the things that stands out about her and makes her unique. She is also optimistic, snarky, and full of life and isn’t full of anger and pain like her father was, which makes her similar to the Prime Earth Dick Grayson in personality. She is also a lawyer with her own law firm, her own career goals, and motivations, which in itself is inspiring to women who want to create their own legacies instead of basking in the shadow of their family legacy.
- Her publication history was cut very short (and while she was at peak popularity) due to the Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot. This meant my generation (the one that grew up with the post-Crisis continuity) didn’t get a chance to read her stories until the pre-Crisis comics were collected in trade in 2006, until she appeared in your JSA run in 2008, and until she made something of a comeback with The New 52 in 2011. Many young fans (especially women) are highly interested in her character and would like to see more of her, especially with Power Girl. There are also older pre-Crisis Justice Society fans who have literally been waiting three decades for the character to make a proper return to the mainstream comics. (That’s a long time to wait for a character to come back, Geoff!)
- Since the start of the New 52, neither Helena nor Kara (Power Girl) have been fulfilling the roles for which they were originally created in the 1970s. From the beginning, both Huntress and Power Girl were removed from the Earth-2 narrative and prevented from continuing the legacies of Batman and Superman (as originally intended) in favor of men who are not immediate successors to their father and cousin respectively. When they did return to Earth-2, marketing for both Kara and Helena (and their overall visibility) was significantly reduced to make room for a new Batman and Superman. Taking into account that both Kara and Helena were originally created to bring gender diversity to both the Justice Society and the Batman and Superman legacies, reversing this progressive development in the 21st Century sends an unfortunate message about how women are valued as successors to Batman and Superman at DC. I have a feeling that’s not the message DC wants to be conveying to its readership, especially since it’s been one of DC’s long-term goals to reach a larger female readership for decades. If Rebirth is looking to course correct the Justice Society franchise by reinstating their original concept and history (what fans loved about them in the first place), I feel the same needs to be done for both Helena Wayne and Kara Zor-L in order for them to have a stronger shot at success. On that note:
- Interest in the New 52 Earth-2 is at an all time low as a consequence of Earth-2: World’s End, Earth-2: Society, and to a lesser extent Earth-2, essentially removing these characters from their more iconic roles as the Justice Society. While current writer Dan Abnett is at least leaving the Earth-2 characters in a better place than where they have been in the last three years for a new Earth-2 relaunch, I’m also not confident—based on recurring sales trends and overall fan reception—that it will be enough to make a difference on the front of future sales and mainstream visibility. It’s been my personal observation that Justice Society fans have not been able to connect with these new versions of the characters post-James Robinson and long to reconnect with the characters attached to the names of “Helena Wayne,” “Kara Zor-L,” “Alan Scott,” “Jay Garrick.” etc. In the end, fans want to read about an authentic Justice Society who resemble the characters they were originally conceived as. I strongly feel all of these characters—including Helena Wayne—will have a stronger chance to succeed with Justice Society Rebirth on Prime Earth and with their more iconic histories and character developments reinstated.
On the whole, Geoff, I feel that there is plenty about Helena Wayne that his highly profitable for the company and she is a fan favorite character that is long overdue for a proper (I should say stronger) return. I think more should be done with her character for the reasons listed, and also because there are fans like me who are highly invested in her character who would like to see the character’s journey further developed from the foundations Paul Levitz, Joe Staton, and Bob Layton originally established. Her story, however, needs to pick in a much stronger place than where Earth-2 currently is and I strongly feel Justice Society Rebirth is that place.
If the post-Crisis Superman and his family were reintegrated into the mainstream DC continuity thanks to Convergence and thoughtful storytelling, I have a feeling the same can be done with the pre-Crisis Earth-2 versions of Huntress, Power Girl, and Fury with Justice Society Rebirth. As you said in an interview with The Nerdist, Geoff, the DC Universe is “way beyond rules,” and you’re right. The DC Universe is a constantly changing, constantly evolving entity, that nothing has ever been off-limits. The fact that anything can happen is a huge part of what makes the DC Universe interesting. All it takes is a solid creative team, a solid direction, and thoughtful execution, and the best story can still be told even in seemingly “impossible” circumstances. (Imagine the difference it would make if a Huntress and Power Girl World’s Finest Rebirth comic was solicited with the names “Geoff Johns” and “Jerry Ordway” on the title, for example? I can accurately predict based on a decade worth of sales that the book would sell as high in numbers as Batman and Justice League!)
On Legend of Wonder Woman Vol. 2, I won’t talk about the fallout between the company and the creative team. That is the business of DC Comics and the creators involved, and I feel that creators Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon successfully addressed fan concerns in a professional manner. Instead, I want to talk about what their work on the first volume meant to me as a huge fan of DC’s Golden Age continuity, as a human being, and why I feel their work on the character will help make Wonder Woman’s story more accessible, even potentially foster a future audience for the mainstream Wonder Woman comics currently written by Greg Rucka with Liam Sharp and Nicola Scott on art.
Starting with that last point, one of the things I loved about the first volume is that Renae De Liz wanted to make her story accessible to all ages, which I think is very important for fostering a larger readership. (I also think it’s important for helping to jettison that harmful public image of Wonder Woman as “a sexualized cartoon character” that resulted in having her honorary ambassadorship in the UN unjustifiably revoked.) With a larger audience in mind, I felt De Liz made thoughtful decisions as a storyteller, about the themes she wanted to explore, and the larger message she wanted readers to take away from her story. She specifically wanted to bring Wonder Woman back to her Golden Age roots and re-explore the initial concept of Wonder Woman as a feminist icon who embodies gender equality and fights for truth and justice, just as William Moulton Marston originally envisioned her. This resulted in De Liz writing a fun and exciting narrative fronted by a very diverse cast of characters that embodied those very ideas. This mission statement reflected in her artwork as well, given that each character was presented with integrity and personality. (Not to mention the pages themselves were gorgeously illustrated!)
I also really loved De Liz’ take on the Golden Age Etta Candy, who was every bit as feisty and full of life as the character Moulton himself wrote in the Golden Age. De Liz’ Etta hasn’t tackled anyone yet and didn’t reveal a more overt obsession with candy like the Golden Age original, but the original idea of Etta being a woman of a larger body size who is very self confident, determined, and with a strong sense of style are all present. I think Etta is a very important character that equally contributes to Wonder Woman’s positive message about women and even challenges the fact that society often evaluates women on their appearance by presenting Etta as a well-rounded personality that doesn’t subscribe to stereotypes. De Liz captured all of that very eloquently in her story. I also loved how she developed Etta’s friendship with Diana as one consisting of mutual respect, acceptance, and always being there for one another. I know I definitely found myself wanting to see more adventures with Diana and Etta when I finished reading Legend of Wonder Woman Vol. 1.
Another thing I enjoyed about the first volume was the story itself and the themes it explored. It’s rather serendipitous that De Liz chose to focus on World War II, and with it, explored the themes of violent oppression, patriarchy, and liberation both literally and symbolically. It’s serendipitous because all three factored into both the Brexit referendum in the UK and the 2016 US election, getting us to where we are now in 2017. Both especially affected me personally. Brexit hurt my plans for graduate school in Scotland and if current British Prime Minister, Theresa May, is to be taken at her word following her speech this past Tuesday (January 17, 2017), the United Kingdom has a turbulent road ahead. Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, already responded quite passionately to May’s Tuesday speech, specifically addressing the part about May continuing to ignore Scotland’s interest in staying in the European Union when she implied that the whole of Britain voted to leave the Union. So in addition to Westminster needing to develop new laws and regulations for trade and immigration in the two years following the formal exist from the EU (known as Article 50), Sturgeon is now implying that a second Scotland independence referendum is on the horizon (the first one was in 2014), further complicating things.
On our side of the pond, Geoff, we fared no better. Not only did a combination of Russian interference in the US election process and the Electoral College facilitate Donald Trump’s successful usurpation of the most powerful office in the country, but he also ran his campaign on stoking the fires of bigotry in this country. This egregious human being was so obsessed with winning at any cost that he actively disrupted civility in America. He empowered the wrong groups of people (the American Nazi Party and the Ku Klux Klan), consistently tried to delegitimize US intelligence and media, mocked a disabled reporter, attacked various women who opposed him (including ones he abused and/or sexually assaulted), exploited the Orlando massacre at the Pulse nightclub to further antagonize Muslims, and even went as far as to call Mexicans criminals and rapists while saying he will make Mexico pay for that “great wall” we wants to build at the US-Mexican border. This is just the tip of the iceberg with Trump. Nonetheless, his entire campaign has been a repeat assault on American democracy, human rights, freedom of the press and speech, and environmental conservation that none of us have any reason to believe he will change course now that he has taken office. I’m pretty sure we’re all going to be spending the next four years minimizing the damages that Trump’s impulsivity, narcissistic personality, collective ignorance, and authoritarian policies will surely bring to us. Just like I’m sure the British will be fighting strongly to minimize the damages that May’s “Brexit means Brexit” government will bring to Britain in the next two years.
So where does Legend of Wonder Woman factor into all of this? Well…everything, Geoff. Not only are the themes explored in the first volume very relevant to the events we’re experiencing now on both sides of the pond, but I also found De Liz’ story empowering. I especially related to Diana’s observation of human suffering and cruelty that it empowered her to become Wonder Woman. I related to Diana’s love of life and humanity, as well as her strong desire to protect the things that are actually good in the world such as love. I especially related to Diana advocating for the human right to choose her own path instead of choosing a life of servitude to an oppressive ruler when she confronted Zeus in Legend of Wonder Woman Vol. 1. That last one really spoke to me, Geoff, because that is literally what is at stake with a Trump USA and Brexit: the right to choose our own paths in life, the right to have control over our own bodies, the right to have access to the same resources, and the right to exist.
Considering how we’re starting 2017, I know I’m feeling like US soldiers did during World War II when they read those original Golden Age Justice Society comics to feel empowered in a time of violent political conflict. I know I want to keep reading about the heroes who inspire me the most (in this case Helena Wayne Huntress, Power Girl, Wonder Woman, and the Justice Society) and I know I want to keep reading stories that empower me like De Liz and Dillon’s Legend of Wonder Woman. In a normal year, I would be reading DC Comics purely for entertainment. In 2017, I’ll now be reading them to help me get through the dark times ahead for the next four years. I know that probably sounds hyperbolic but that’s literally the life of a queer Latina woman like me whose parents are Colombian immigrants. Prior to 2016, I didn’t fear for the lives of my family and their safety. In 2017 I do. I have a feeling many Americans and Britons will be feeling this way because we’re all very diverse people, living in a time of violent assault on our existence. But fiction and love of comics is something that unites us all and allows us to build meaningful relationships with one another and even inspire us to become better people. We’ll always be fallible, but we are also smart enough to make a difference.
I know I advocated for Helena Wayne’s inclusion in Rebirth and for the revival of Legend of Wonder Woman with De Liz and Dillon as the creative team in this letter because these are the characters and stories that mean the most to me. But I hope everyone at DC Entertainment is thinking of all of us, and all of our favorite characters and stories as we move further into Rebirth and a new era of DC Comics. I know that my friend in Greece will continue advocating for Poison Ivy to be developed as a more heroic character with stronger mainstream visibility, and I have a loyal reader of my blog (helenawaynehuntress.com) who would like to see Val-Zod given another chance at success and to be given more meaningful character development.
I doubt I’ll ever become Wonder Woman to fight for the rights of everyone, and I don’t have what it takes to be a successful lawyer like Helena Wayne to defend those rights, but I do have a psychology degree, a voice, and a love of comics that I can share with other people. My goal as a DC fan and blogger is to help foster stronger fan interest in Helena Wayne, Power Girl, the Justice Society, and DC’s Golden Age continuity, and to help create a stronger DC fan community that can help DC achieve greater success in the future. If nothing else I do in life matters, I hope that my long-term contribution to the world is to inspire hope and optimism through a love of art. I was born drawing, writing, and enjoying the art of others, I’m pretty sure I’ll go out the same way.
As for real life? Well, I’m pretty sure I’ll never become the Flash through accidental exposure to water vapors like Jay Garrick or acquire a power ring like Alan Scott or Hal Jordan to help fight the good fight, but I can join marches, sign petitions, and donate money to organizations committed to protecting human rights, endangered animals, and environment conservation. I spent the days of Brexit and the US election feeling like Dr. Manhattan wanting to isolate himself on Mars feeling disillusioned with humanity. Then came the Women’s March around the world on January 21, 2017 to inspire me not to give up hope. All over the world, Geoff, millions of Wonder Women stood up against fascism and sent a clear message to Donald J. Trump: that we will not regress from the progress we’ve fought so hard to make and that we will always fight to move forward and achieve equality for all. Some of these women included writers who have written for DC and Marvel and women who are involved in DC’s television projects like Melissa Benoist. The Women’s March drew in an historically larger crowd than Trump’s inauguration. It was powerful to see the streets flooded with so many diverse faces around the world marching for the same cause. I now feel like the Golden Age Etta Candy feeling awe and inspired by the power of millions of diverse people who stood up in the name of progress, and now, I want to stand up as well.
So how about it, Geoff? Helena Wayne to be reunited with Power Girl for Justice Society Rebirth? New volume of Legend of Wonder Woman with De Liz and Dillon to continue to inspire us and give the general public more exposure to Diana’s story? Can we strive for a bigger, more inclusive, and hopeful DC Universe to inspire everyone in 2017 and the years ahead? Can we continue to break new grounds as comics always has since the days of World War II, the American Civil Rights movement, and now an era of Donald Trump and Brexit? What do you say to all of us—professionals and fans alike—paving these new roads together and aim for a creating stronger DC Comics future?