While Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice and Man Of Steel writer David S Goyer’s bizarre screed against nerdkind and She-Hulk in particular is getting the derision it deserves – not least of which from She-Hulk co-creator and Marvel Comics svengali Stan Lee, who chipped in to The Washington Post that “Only a nut would even think of that.”
Just to get you up to speed, Goyer, a man who clearly knows his comics because he wrote the embarrassing Nicky Fury: Agent Of SHIELD pilot and directed the dreadful Blade Trinity, said (as captured by those bastions of quality pop-culture journalism The Mary Sue), “I think She-Hulk is the chick that you could [sexually explicit verb] if you were Hulk, you know what I’m saying?
“She-Hulk was the extension of the male power fantasy. So it’s, like, if I’m going to be this geek who becomes the Hulk, then let’s create a giant, green porn star” who, as a character, serves to service the Hulk.”
David S Goyer is wrong about female comic creators
As any comic fan knows, this whole line of enquiry is mutually assured destruction. Goyer’s mostly correct when he asserts “at the time in particular I think 95% of comic book readers were men and certainly almost all of the comic book writers were men.”
He does however fudge the issue by narrowing the field to “writer” in an medium where artists and editors have just as much of a role in creating characters and creating storylines.
She-Hulk first appeared in 1980, not as he seems to want you to believe, some sort of Don Draper era of Stan Lee puffing a fat cigar and shivering interns posing naked for Marvel Girl centrefolds.
Goyer’s narrative wants you to ignore women creating comics in the Thirties and Forties like Timely’s Violet Barclay, Wonder Woman co-creator Elizabeth Holloway Marston, DC editor and Kryptonite co-creator Dorothy Woolfolk and Phantom Lady creator Ruth Roche.
Goyer’s narrative wants you to ignore women creating comics in the Sixties and Seventies, such as Marvel’s Marie Severin (co-creator of Spider-Woman) and DC’s Ramona Fradon (creator of Aqualad and co-creator of Metamorpho, The Element Man).
David S Goyer is wrong about male comic creators
Equally insidiously, Goyer’s narrative tries to get you to ignore the fact that so many male Sixties and Seventies creators of superwomen were genuinely trying to create female characters who would advance the medium.
This includes the object of his ire She-Hulk in Stan Lee and John Buscema’s Savage She-Hulk (and more so its later John Bryne run), but also the likes of Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum with the openly feminist Ms Marvel and his powerhouse run Uncanny X-Men (reinventing the dull Marvel Girl as the messianic Phoenix), Gerry Conway with Power Girl in All-Star Comics and his own run on Ms Marvel, Steve Englehart reinventing romance comics stalwart Patsy Walker as the street-fighting Hellcat in Avengers and inducting a new-look Valkyrie into Defenders.
Heck, even Denny O’Neil and Mike Sekowsky’s on-the-nose flower-child-about-town reboot of Wonder Woman deserves some credit.
The first decade of the Bronze Age of Comics was very much the birth of modern comics. It’s where the relevance of the Sixties became more real than ever before, where Dark Knights became really dark and the antihero was born, where government stooges became counter-cultural icons and space heroes became trippy cosmic demigods, and where male dominated team-books gained female characters with roles beyond love interest and kidnap bait.
Sure, there’s a lot of straw feminism going around, but a lot of successes too and to have that whole period reduced to “male creators making masturbatory aids for male readers” is a slap in the chops.
David S Goyer is wrong about She-Hulk
Sadly, this has nothing to do with Goyer’s ham-fisted comic-book criticism and everything to do with the sort of DC vs Marvel partisan shit-flinging that the internet delights in.
The truth is that as much as the history of comics is progressive in a way that mainstream culture would often race to catch up with, it’s also filled with appalling sexism, racism and a wheelbarrow full of other isms. But is She-Hulk a skin-flashing male power fantasy?
It’s worth noting that in 1980, when she first appeared, David S Goyer was 15.
Does describing her as a big green porn star that has the endurance to take on a night with the Hulk sound like something a 15 year-old would have said? Yes, it does. It sounds like something a particularly vulgar 15 year-old who have dwelt on at great length, and it’s obviously left an impression on one former 15 year-old in particular.
The truth is that She-Hulk’s recent Ally McBeal-style adventures as a lawyer are nothing new – that’s how the character was originally depicted. That she was invented as a rights-protecting exercise in the wake of The Incredible Hulk TV show doesn’t change how the character was used – as some detractors seem convinced that it does.
Real name Jennifer Walters, She-Hulk fights mob corruption and most importantly, both in the courtroom and out, sexism – much of it stemming from her frequent sparring partner District Attorney Buck Bukowski.
In early strips she loses her cool at Bukowski’s sneering and runs from the room to avoid him witnessing her transformation, but as the character evolves – especially under writer/artist John Bryne – she becomes much more comfortable with her gamma-irradiated identity – almost uniquely so.
Indeed, She-Hulk – while not as celebrated as Wonder Woman or Catwoman – is a feminist icon which makes Goyer’s criticisms all the more insensitive, disrespectful and plain wrong.
Or as Gail Simone put it:
That’s right. Grow up, Goyer.
Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice will be released on 6 May 2016, read our defence of Ben Affleck’s casting here and Gal Gadot’s casting here. Man Of Steel is out now – get it on Blu-ray for £18.50, DVD for £12.75 or 3D Blu-ray for £20.50 from Amazon.co.uk and find out more about the comics that inspired the film with new digital magazine Uncanny Comics.