Monday, August 14, 2006

Supergirl's New Writer

Supergirl needs a new writer. One who understands how to write teenagers, particularly teenage girls. One with a proven track record of characters who were young and eager to help, maybe confused and over-come with hormones and distrust of adults. One who gets crushes and is more powerful than they realize.

I nominate Chuck Dixon.

In the pro-column:

He launched Robin and wrote it for 100 issues.

He launched Nightwing and made him cool.

He created Connor Hawke and wrote Ollie's best moment of the '90s, blowing up over Metropolis.

He created the comic and team Birds of Prey.

He created Stephanie Brown, a.k.a. The Spoiler.

In the negative column:

Um, Dorian? Do you want to take this one?

He's made some offensive statements about homosexuality not belonging in comics. (Though, I will say that his particular objection was in reaction to a miniseries that was going to reveal the Rawhide Kid was gay. A miniseries that, in retrospect, turned out to be a horrible immature run of wink wink sex jokes that NO ONE liked, so, just maybe, he might have had a point.)

He also has some pretty conservative politics, it seems. So I'm not sure I'd like to have dinner with him.

I don't care. I like the books he writes. He writes fantastic action scenes, and more bad-ass panels per page than should be allowable by law.

More importantly, I like the characters he writes. To take an example chosen completely at random, let's look at, I don't know, Stephanie Brown?

Stephanie could have been a girl completely defined the men in her life. Daughter of supervillain, girlfriend of superhero. Completely reactive to the world around her.

But she wasn't. She had a life of her own. A relationship with her mother that was probably the most important in her life. A desire to be a superhero, that may have started as rebellion against her father and infatuation with Robin, but it grew into an honest need to save people and be a better person. She trained, with Batman and with the Birds. She was smart and funny, but she was also flawed, impulsive and emotional. In short, she was a teenager.

And she was also a mother. Stephanie found out she was pregnant from an ex-boyfriend, refused to have an abortion, and then gave up the baby for adoption. And everyone of those choices were made by HER.

A lot of writers would give a girl an unexpected pregnancy. It's easy drama. And it would take a very brave writer indeed who would have a character have an abortion (name one!). But other writers would have employed the miraculous miscarriage or just saddled her with a baby, where she would suddenly learn to love and cherish it. Dixon went further, and wrote the scene where she gives up her child with enough emotion that the reader understood there was no good option, that any choice she made was painful, deeply painful. (Then, in true superhero fashion, she solves her problems with violence, by beating the ever-loving crap out of her no good dead-beat ex!)

And Dixon wrote all that. Stephanie's greatest moments, her most private pain, her obvious crushes and awkward attempts to become a trusted member of the Bat-team, basically every reason women were PISSED OFF that Stephanie was killed was because Dixon knew how to write her.

And that's what Supergirl needs now. RIGHT NOW. Less "more powerful than Superman," and more trying to be human and fit in and stand out at the same time. Less "where do I come from and am I evil," and more dumb crushes and bone-head plays for attention. Oh, and more butt-kicking, and less butt-grabbing.

In other words, more teenage girl, and more Chuck Dixon.

At least that's my opinion.


Anonymous said...

I totally agree, he could most likely make her likeable. I just noticed, though ... has Dixon ever written a solo with a super-powered hero (stuff like Canary's scream don't really count)? Would Supergirl be his first? I don't know if his usual plots would work with someone who's at Superman's power on a monthly basis...

Derek said...

"Oh, and more butt-kicking, and less butt-grabbing."

And in the case of her cousin Superman, much less butt-grabbing.

Marc Burkhardt said...

A good nomination. Is he out of favor with DC brass these days or what?

Andersen Gabrych may be a good choice as well. With all the Cassie controversies out there, I've picked up a few back issues of Batgirl and liked what I saw.

Brandon Bragg said...

Maybe I'm reaching here, but...Peter David?

Steven said...

Helen(anonymous posting policy here),

Y'know, I don't think he's literally written a solo series about Superman, but Power Girl was a regular in Birds of Prey. Besides, it would be interesting for me to see Dixon do something slightly different.


Dixon seems fine with DC brass. He has Rush City out now and the Connor Hawke miniseries later this year (plus Claw the Unconquered and Snakes on a Plane). And it wasn't like he left acrimoniously. He went to work exclusively at CrossGen, finishing out his arcs on the 4 or 5 books he wrote for DC, now CrossGen's shuttered and he's back.

Andersen Gabrych is a good suggestion too (but I like Dixon better. :P)


Peter David, on the other hand, seems to be having a blood fued with Dan DiDio (over Young Justice, for some reason). So for the foreseeable future, he's out.

And... I've read Peter David's Supergirl. I really enjoyed Peter David's Supergirl (I have a complete run). But I don't have need to read it again, or at least to buy it again. I'd like to see someone new.