DC Comics has canceled Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman, an ongoing anthology of one-shot stories featuring various incarnations of the princess of the Amazons.
When the digital-first series launched last August, DC set out to do something with Wonder Woman that it hadn't done in ages: deconstruct and explore the hero as a collection of ideas, voices, and images rather than focusing on her as a singular character. With each issue, a different artist and writer were given the opportunity to craft a unique kind of Wonder Woman that either resonated with them or spoke to what they thought the character symbolized.
In one issue, Diana moonlights as a rock star selling out stadiums in Athen's when she isn't protecting her fans from misogynistic men wielding shotguns. In another, the Amazon warrior is rendered with a thickly muscled, Silver Age aesthetic as she confidently flexes and announces that she can't be bound by the chains of men.
No two depictions of the character are alike, and yet in each of them there are recurring themes of strength, empowerment, and general badassness. Sensation's Wonder Women were more than just the "girls" on the Justice League who could go to to toe with Superman.
Their personalities, passions, and convictions were given the space to be deep and complex which, ultimately, made their stories some of the best Wonder Woman story arcs in years.
Now that's over.
According to Alex de Campi, a writer who worked for the Sensation run, this particular embodiment of Wonder Woman is likely done for good and chances are that the character won't translate over to the character's main books. The reason? Deep, infrastructural sexism within DC.
Sensation's Wonder Woman, de Campi explained in a blog post, thrived specifically because those books were handled by a special projects division with limited interaction with DC's larger editorial offices. The mainstream Wonder Woman comic, on the other hand, is overseen by the Superman office.
"Now, the Superman office allegedly employs no women, and a cursory glance over the mastheads of several Superman titles and Wonder Woman seems to confirm that allegation," de Campi wrote. "The reason, I’ve been told by several people who work or used to work at DC, is because one of the most senior editors is a sexual harasser with multiple incidents on his HR file."
De Campi goes on to detail a number of incidents involving the editor in which he both physically and psychologically abuses women in the workplace. His behavior, which she says includes grabbing a woman's breasts at a work event, is widely known throughout the company, and yet he's allowed to keep his position.
"It is not known to me whether the no-chicks-in-Supes-office diktat is the preference of the harasser," De Campi wrote. "Or whether it’s the HR department crossing its fingers and hoping to Jesus they don’t get hit with a liability lawsuit so big it’s visible from space."
When De Campi told me about her time writing for the Sensation books, she made a point of telling me that her experience was nothing but positive. Given how small and nuclear the special projects division is and that the team of creators writing Sensation's Wonder Woman was a diverse group, the books couldn't help but be better.
De Campi says that that same dynamic exists in other DC officers putting out titles led by female characters.
"Now, of course you don’t need women on staff to tell a great story with a female character," she said. "I am just positing that this situation in the Superman office may not be the best environment to foster innovative, compelling stories about DC’s foremost female character, in the way the Batman office has done so well recently with Batgirl, Gotham Academy, and even reaching back to things like Gotham Central and Batwoman."
In her post, De Campi brings up a much larger issue than one iconic character being robbed of the opportunity to speak with a progressive, refreshing voice. The same sort of institutionalized sexism that allegedly led to the Superman offices not hiring female creators can be seen throughout the entire industry beyond DC.
This past March, Valerie D'Orazio, a noted comics writer and editor, publicly detailed an account of being cyberbullied for three years by Christopher Sims, a fellow comics writer and blogger.
At the height of her harassment, D'Orazio was writing a Punisher one-shot for Marvel comics and Sims blogged comics news for Comics Alliance, a popular comics blog.
"I had several cyberbullies during that three-year span, but Chris Sims was one of the worst," D'Orazio wrote. "Not so much for what he said about me directly, but because he had a popular forum from which to direct harassment to me by many other people."
I never could figure out what I did to Chris personally to be singled out for this type of treatment. But week after week, he would have posts focused on me in which he would be a ringleader for others, who would then go off and harass me personally via my blog, social media, and emails.
D'Orazio chose to go public with her story because, despite her having voiced issue of her treatment by Sims before, Marvel moved forward to hire Sims as a writer for its X-Men 92 series that launched in June. Before deleting her account, D'Orazio published a series of tweets making it explicitly clear why Sims's hiring came as such a shock to her.
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"I knew I was being a jerk," Sims wrote in his personal blog. "I was the one doing the needling, the one leaving the douchey comments, the one who wasn’t just ignoring it and moving on, the one who had no idea what the other person was dealing with and what I was doing to compound it."
Axel Alonso, Marvel's editor-in-chief, claims that Marvel had no pre-existing knowledge of Sims's harassment before bringing him on board as a writer.
"In his formal public apology, Chris took full responsibility for his actions," Alonso said to Comic Book Resources. "While we condemn Chris’s past actions, we see his strongly worded apology as evidence that he now understands that verbal bullying and harassment of anyone is totally, unequivocally wrong."
Sims has stayed on as X-Men 92's writer and D'Orazio has gone on to launch her own comic book imprint Telekinetic Press.
Even in the wake of an incident as public as D'Orazio and Sims's, the industry doesn't seem to be in much of a hurry to address the fact that it has a serious problem when it comes to being hostile towards women.
For every instance where a woman calls out sexism in the comics world, she's seemingly chased away rather than given a platform to stand on.
"The irony is that nothing will be done by DC and Marvel about these harassers, but I will be blacklisted (even more than I already am) at the Big Two," De Campi wrote. "And I do not care."