Category: Comics

Riddle Me This: When is a Spoiler Not a Spoiler?

When it's on the damn cover.

Robin, RIP

"Spoilers" follow. If, you know, you looked at that cover and found yourself scratching your head wondering what could possibly happen in this comic.

As I may have mentioned once or twice last week, I've been laid-up with a cold. I wasn't up to leaving the house for comics last Wednesday. I knew there was some big "One of these characters will die!" thing going on in Batman Inc #8, that comics sites like Bleeding Cool were filling their headlines full of spoiler warnings, and that non-comics media outlets like the New York Post were blithely covering it with no such concern for spoiler warnings.

And then, on Thursday, one day after the issue hit, I ran across a headline on Robot 6 that spelled it out. I was pretty pissed-off at the breach of etiquette.

Up until I finally made it into the comic shop yesterday and actually saw the issue in question.

At which point I realized that yes, all this spoiler-warning nonsense really was nonsense. It's not a spoiler if it's on the damn cover.

The issue itself wasn't bad. Had some good moments; I particularly like Damian telling Dick he was his favorite partner.

The ending -- well, there are some fantastic reaction shots of both Batman and Talia, but ultimately the whole thing actually felt a little anticlimactic considering how much it'd been built up.

Plus, it's comics. Odds he'll actually stay dead? There is a comic book called Batman and Robin. To the best of my knowledge, it is not being cancelled. I suppose they could make Tim Robin again, or there could be some other Robin, but...well, I'm pretty sure Damian's going to get better. Lazarus Pits may be involved.

(There's also the point that the cover is based on one from the Batman: RIP arc a few years back. Batman, of course, also did not actually die. And "RIP" turned out to stand for "Rot in Purgatory". Which, I guess to be fair, is an apt way to describe all the benched DC characters.)

Snyder's Batman

I'm increasingly of the opinion that Scott Snyder has some great ideas about Batman but his stuff's just not for me. That one-off issue with Becky Cloonan on art was the best Batman story I've read all year, but Death of the Family was some good ideas wrapped around a needlessly violent and decompressed story. (My favorite part: you can show people dancing until their feet bleed, you can show a tapestry made of sewn-together still-living people -- but if you want to say "ass", you'd better use comic-book symbols to bleep it out.) I think both the setup and the resolution were solid. I just think there was too much dithering in-between. Even without the half-dozen tie-in books.

Gail Simone recently responded to a reader who was put off by the grimness of Death of the Family by saying, "The bat-verse in general IS in a pretty dark place right now, but I do believe some lighter stories are coming." Here's hoping. Snyder's already done some great work -- but great work where Batman smiles now and again would be more to my tastes.

Crass Commercialism

Recently, there was a post on Gail Simone's Tumblr. A reader said:

I'm all for the new surge in gay/lesbian characters in the DCU. So when I ask this, I don't wanna sound like I'm against it, but is there perhaps too much of it? I just kinda feel like it's being thrown everywhere. Even though now it's totally cool to have that stuff in comics (God knows we've needed it for awhile), it just seems like now that the gates are open, let's throw as much of it out as possible.

Gail responded with a well-deserved "WTF?" (I'm paraphrasing). But I got to thinking about it. I don't know what the fan meant with his "being thrown everywhere" comment, but I do sometimes find the introduction of gay characters to be sensationalistic. And I think it comes down, as so many things do, to the collision between art and commerce.

Standard disclaimer: I'm a straight white male. I'm speaking from a position of privilege and I have the good sense to know I am. When I see something as sensitive or insensitive to a group I'm not a member of, well, I'm quite clearly observing as an outsider with an outsider's perspective. If anyone thinks I'm off-base, well, I acknowledge that's a distinct possibility.

But from where I'm sitting, anything that appears in a press release just feels crass. It feels manipulative. When a company introduces its new gay character in the exact same way it introduces an upcoming storyline where Spider-Man/Batman/Johnny Storm dies and the series starts over at #1, then it feels like it's the same kind of thing -- a cynical marketing exercise that is meant to boost sales for a few months but will ultimately be meaningless in the scheme of things.

A creator can introduce a minority character for all the right reasons, out of a legitimate desire to thoughtfully and tastefully increase the diversity of a universe that desperately needs it -- but when the marketing machine gets ahold of it, that can be hard to tell.

Here's an example. When I saw all the fanfare leading up to Batwoman's debut, here's what it looked like to me: a token character introduced to generate press and free media publicity. Oh, and she's a sexy redheaded lipstick lesbian in spiked heels -- that didn't look to me like a character designed to appeal to the LGBT community, it looked like a character designed to appeal to the very worst stereotypes of the comic book fan community. And she's Renee Montoya's ex? Of course she is! How could there be two lesbians in Gotham City who didn't sleep together at one point or another?

I was delighted to find my initial impressions to be pretty much dead wrong. While I wasn't sold on Batwoman's original arc in 52, by the time she headlined Detective it was clear that Rucka and Williams had crafted a complex, interesting character, who owned her sexuality but didn't exist simply to satisfy some marketing push for More Sexy Lesbians. (Plus, she ditched the heels for much more sensible boots.) In the years that have followed, Detective and Batwoman have been consistently excellent comics, and Kate Kane is one of the best new characters to come out of DC or Marvel in the new century. I was wrong about her and I couldn't be happier.

But that introduction, with all the fanfare and press coverage, didn't make her inclusion feel organic, in those early days. It felt like a marketing stunt.

By contrast, I was four or five issues into Cornell and Neves's Demon Knights before it actually hit me that this was a superhero team that included a disabled character, a Muslim, and a transgendered character -- Cornell and Neves included them without fanfare, without promotion; they never felt like tokens, it was just a case of "Here are these characters, and here's their background."

There's a downside to that, of course. Comics is, after all, a business, and there's an argument to be made that if you don't promote the diverse lineup of your book, you may very well fly under the radar. People looking for a book featuring a disabled, Muslim, or transgendered hero might very well have no idea that Demon Knights even exists -- and that's bad for them because they don't know that such a book is out there, and it's bad for DC, Cornell, Neves, and everybody else who stands to make money from the book, because that's a sale they're missing out on. Marketing a book based on the presence of minorities in its cast may seem crass -- but it does what it's designed to do, which is to sell the book. A sensitive, thought-provoking book with a diverse cast is a great damn thing -- but if nobody reads it and it gets cancelled, then not only does it fail to reach an audience, it also sets a bad precedent -- like, say, both Static Shock and Mr. Terrific being among the first books cancelled in the New 52 has got to have DC thinking twice about books with African-American leads. Which of course misses the point -- those books sold poorly because they were bad, not because people don't want to read comics about black people.

The press can be complicit, too -- last year, when the new Alan Scott was introduced as a gay man, lots of readers accused DC and Didio of sensationalizing it. But that's not really what happened. James Robinson decided to make the new Alan Scott gay as a genuine effort to maintain diversity in the DC Multiverse; Dan Didio, when asked point-blank about new gay characters, teased that there would indeed be a big-name character reintroduced to the New 52 as a gay man. From there, it wasn't DC that sensationalized the story, it was comics news sites.

At any rate, I do think that more diversity is an inherently good thing; I don't always agree with the way the publishers go about it, or the way the press covers it, but I think most creators' and editors' hearts are in the right place. I don't think there's "too much of it" -- I just hate press releases.

The Walking Dead: The Game: Initial Impressions

Some friends got me Telltale Games' The Walking Dead for Christmas. Today I finally got around to firing it up.

And it immediately bluescreened.

As I've mentioned before, I've got serious fucking problems with the GTX 570 in my Mac Pro. Could be a voltage issue -- still trying to figure it out. But I get a fuck of a lot of BSoD's when I'm gaming. Never could get past the opening cinematic of Bioshock. At this point I actually keep my DS or PSP handy so I have a game to play while I'm waiting for Windows to reboot so I can try to play my game again. (Today it was Dragon Quest 6.)

Anyway. I suffered through four more bluescreens over the course of the next few hours, but the play in-between all the bluescreening was pretty sweet.

I like the cel-shaded art style. The art credits in the intro are Art Director Derek Sakai, Lead Animator Peter Tsaykel, and Lead Cinematic Animator Eric Parsons -- no sign of Charlie Adlard's name, but they've done a damn solid job of reproducing his style. They also prove that you don't need a realistic art style for a good, scary Walking Dead game -- they opt instead for thick black lines, big expressive eyes, and the occasional "ink-splatter" shading. I've spoken about simple, iconic images in video games before, and this is a damn fine example. I've never seen a game that looks quite like it, even in Telltale's recent oeuvre.

Some spoilers follow -- mostly simple, early-in-the-game ones.

The choice to give Lee a leg injury right at the beginning of the game is a clever one -- the first two zombie encounters are intense. Lee limps and stumbles and fumbles; his hands shake and he drops the shell he's trying to load into the shotgun -- the point-and-click adventure genre is not known for its pulse-pounding action, but Telltale shows it can be done. A hard time limit and impending horrible death make even clicking on icons and repeatedly pressing keys tense. (Bill Amend made a similar point in Fox Trot some two decades back but I can't find the strip offhand. Myst with velociraptors; you have to solve the puzzles quickly.)

I do find that it gets a little too cute with the cameos -- Lee runs into both Hershel and Glenn? Separately, before the two of them ever meet? That's a bit much.

(There's also a Lilly, but the lettercol in the latest issue of the comic Word-of-Gods it that she's not the same Lilly from the comic and spinoff novel.)

But on the whole I'm really quite impressed with it so far. It's a smartly-made game; well-written, well-crafted, well-animated, well-acted. And I'm just getting started -- I'm looking forward to seeing the long-term consequences of my split-second decisions.

Some Good-Natured Ball-Busting

Last August, Mark Waid and Jeremy Rock at The Gutters treated us to Mark Waid's 4 Panels that Never Work. It included some funny bits like the following:

A speech from the Times Square Jumbotron!  The jumbotron doesn't have speakers.  You know this, right?  You don't?  GO FIND ANOTHER CAREER.

It's a good point. I laughed. But here's the thing. It opens up Waid to his own share of good-natured ball-busting when he does shit like this, from Insufferable #29 (art by Peter Krause):

Funds Transfer 85% Complete

What the fuck is that, Mark Waid? Why is the funds transfer at 85%? Is it transferring the money one dollar at a time?

Mark Waid, you are a tech-savvy man. I am confident that you have, at some point in your life, done some online banking or purchased a product from Amazon. You know financial transactions over the Internet do not work like that. They either succeed or they fail. There is no such thing as a partial transfer, and it does not actually take longer to transfer a million dollars than it takes to transfer one dollar.

Now, there are things that might make your connection to another site slower -- say, if the character was using some kind of Tor-like program to cover his tracks -- but even still, while he was waiting he'd just be seeing a spinning ball or a "Please wait..." dialog or something like that. It wouldn't have a percent with it, because there is no such thing as partial completion for such a request; it's either finished, waiting to finish, or timed out waiting.

(Now, I suppose that if the money were being sent to multiple different locations, that could be done through some kind of custom script that would update a percentage-amount every time it completed a transfer. But #34 seems to imply that is not what is going on here and the money did indeed all go to one place.)

Insufferable is Awesome

I got a Nexus 7 for Christmas. As you might expect, the first thing I did was root it. The second was to get all my usual apps -- E-Mail, RSS, emulators -- set up and working. The ones I'm used to from my phone.

But the third thing? Comics.

I've been very excited about Mark Waid's digital comics endeavors for years now. He gets it. Release your books in DRM-free standard formats, and treat pirates like they're potential customers instead of treating your customers like they're potential pirates.

In a nutshell, I'd been waiting to get a tablet just for the opportunity to see what it was Waid was up to.

Well, for starters, his books up on thrillbent.com are just straight-up free downloads.

Want to download all of Thrillbent's marquee book, Insufferable, by Waid and artist Peter Krause, for free? (Hint: yes. Yes you do.) Here's a simple, handy bash script to do it:

for((i = 1; i <= 9; i++)); do wget http://www.thrillbent.com/cbz/insufferable/Insufferable_0$i\_Mark_Waid_2012.cbz; done for((i = 10; i <= 34; i++)); do wget http://www.thrillbent.com/cbz/insufferable/Insufferable_$i\_Mark_Waid_2012.cbz; done

And presumably next week #35 will be out with a "2013" in place of that "2012" in the filename and it'll go on from there.

From a nuts-and-bolts storytelling perspective, Insufferable is a perfectly compelling superhero book. It's a Batman pastiche, but I happen to like Batman pastiches. (I often say that my all-time favorite Batman comic is Astro City: Confession.) The setup here is, loosely: What if Nightwing was a total douchebag?

It follows that moment of the sidekick -- named Galahad, in this case -- striking off on his own, no longer able to work with his mentor (Nocturnus). And Galahad isn't the class act that Dick Grayson is -- he's an insecure, spoiled celebrity. Nocturnus, meanwhile, has seen better days; he's something of a has-been and is now superheroing on a budget.

That, by itself, is enough for an intriguing, human superhero yarn. Insufferable would be a thoroughly enjoyable book on the strength of good old-fashioned traditional comic book storytelling.

But instead, it innovates. Waid and Krause make a point of doing things with a digital comic that can't be done on paper. Frames appear one swipe at a time; characters' facial expressions change. In one case, Nocturnus does the classic Batman entrance -- in one panel, the room is empty; swipe your finger and suddenly he's just there. As Galahad rides off after the bad guy, he receives a tweet making fun of him. Swipe and a few retweets appear over the scene; swipe again and the screen starts to fill with them.

Waid discusses these techniques in a recent Robot 6 interview. He cites the master, Bernie Krigstein, as his greatest inspiration in thinking of panel composition as a tool for pacing.

Waid's got the right idea, and it almost always works. As I read Insufferable I keep thinking of how smart he and Krause are in their use of these techniques, how they're not flashy and they're not there just for the sake of Doing Something Different; they actually serve the story in a way that -- while original -- has its roots in decades of traditional comics.

For my money, there is one example where it doesn't quite work: repeating the same panel exactly. I get what they're trying to do -- hell, where would Bendis be without that technique? -- but while you can repeat a panel exactly on paper as a pacing tool, it throws me to see it in a digital comic. There's a simple UI design reason for this: when a user interacts with a program, the program is supposed to do something. If I swipe a page, I can't tell the difference between "the same panel repeats" and "nothing happens". My first thought isn't "Oh, that's a beat", it's "Did I not press hard enough?"

There's a simple solution -- just change something, anything, in the panel. Make somebody blink, or change a facial expression slightly -- anything at all to give the user some sort of feedback that yes you turned the page and now this is the next image.

But you know, the occasional false note is the price of innovation. Yes, I found something small that, in my opinion, doesn't quite work in Waid and Krause's book. But there's so damn much that does work, and works astonishingly well.

I've said before that now is the best time to be a comics fan. Insufferable is one more example of why. Go give it a read -- it won't cost you anything and I think you'll be glad you did.

I haven't gotten around to the other Thrillbent books yet, but I intend to. But first -- well, it's Wednesday. I've got some traditional, paper-and-toner-and-staples comics to go pick up.

Concerning Tolkiens

A few weeks back, Tom Spurgeon had this to say:

[F]or some reason I ended up with this Christopher Tolkien Le Monde interview in my bookmarks folder. It's instructive to read something about a family wanting certain rights returned or better rewarded when most people really like what's been done with those rights as opposed to their either not caring or actively hating the result. One of the reasons a lot of our comics-related issue discussions remain unsophisticated is that we frequently choose to fight our battles along fundamental "I like it"/"I hate it" lines and then kind of furiously stare at the other issues involved until we can find a way to make them comply to our initial impression. It's no way to move forward.

He's not wrong. Given my established stance on creators' rights -- and creators' heirs' rights -- I'd be remiss in not confronting this conundrum.

Now, I like the movies. They're not perfect (The Two Towers, in particular, completely botches the narrative arc, overemphasizing the importance of Helm's Deep and an inexplicable new Osgiliath subplot while shunting the two actual climaxes of the book to the first act of the third movie -- and in one case, removing it from the theatrical cut entirely), but on the whole they're really pretty good. But yeah, there are some uncomfortable facts surrounding them.

To reiterate: my stance is that copyright law lasts far too long; in my opinion The Hobbit should have been public domain by now. But given that it isn't, we should respect the rights of the creators -- and given that, in this case, JRR Tolkien is no longer with us, we should respect the rights of his heirs. For legal purposes, the Tolkien Estate is JRR Tolkien.

But there are a couple of other factors at work here, too.

It was JRR himself who sold the film rights. Willingly, and with the intent to make sure his heirs were cared for financially.

That said, he was taken advantage of. Ever hear of the first ever Hobbit movie? It was made in a month, ran 12 minutes, and was only screened once -- because Tolkien's lawyers were incompetent, and left a loophole allowing the studio to retain the rights to Lord of the Rings as long as they produced a full-color film by a given deadline. Length and distribution were not specified; a 12-minute movie screened once satisfied the contract.

It wouldn't be the last time lawyers worked to game the system. Forty years later, Warner would produce the blockbuster Lord of the Rings film trilogy, and, through the usual Hollywood creative bookkeeping tactics, claim that it had not turned any profit and therefore they didn't owe any money to the Tolkien Estate. It took a lawsuit for the Estate to receive any money from the films.

(This is the point in any creators' rights debate where some corporate apologist inevitably explains to me that publicly-traded companies are beholden to their shareholders and therefore obligated to hoard as much money as humanly possible and do everything they can to avoid paying a single cent more than they have to. Why, it would be unethical for them not to try and get out of paying the Tolkien Estate! I welcome any such apologist to explain to me precisely how it was in Time Warner shareholders' best interest to expose the company to multiple lawsuits -- not just from the Tolkiens but from Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, who New Line also tried to stiff -- and trap The Hobbit in development hell for the better part of a decade, to the point where it appeared for quite some time that it wouldn't get made at all.)

And there's one more sad old saw that the apologists like to trot out: "Well, what did the heirs ever do?" That's one I see a lot in the conversations about the heirs of Jack Kirby, or Jerry Siegel, or Joe Shuster, et al.

I think it's a hollow argument. Creators do their work expecting to leave something for their families, and dismissing heirs outright effectively means giving luck-of-the-draw based on the age at which a person dies. (Do you believe Jack Kirby should have received money from The Avengers if he had lived to 95, and would have left that money to his children? If so, why do you believe his children don't deserve that money just because he died at 76? If not, then what the hell does it matter whether his heirs did the work or not, if you don't think the guy who did do the work shouldn't have been compensated for the adaptation?)

But even if you don't buy that line of reasoning, well, this is one case where "What did the heirs ever do?" is a pretty piss-poor rhetorical question. Because in this case the answer is "Assemble, edit, and publish about 30 of his books." Make no mistake -- Christopher Tolkien hasn't simply sat back and waited for checks to roll in; he has made it his life's work to get as much of his father's work into print as humanly possible. And it's not so simple as just finding old pages and retyping them -- many of the writings are fragmentary, and many would be incomprehensible without Christopher's extensive annotations. Without his work, Tolkien's body of published work would be far poorer.

Actually, that brings up another point entirely: the Hobbit movie isn't simply an adaptation of The Hobbit. It includes material from Unfinished Tales -- a book which I'm fairly confident Warner, MGM, et al do not have the movie rights to.

Now, I'm sure Warner's got very expensive lawyers on this. And maybe I'm misremembering -- it's been years since I read Unfinished Tales, longer since I read Lord of the Rings, longer still since I read The Hobbit. Maybe the LotR appendices have enough information about the Fall of Erebor, how Thorin earned the name Oakenshield, Gandalf's meeting with Thráin, and the White Council that Jackson, Walsh, Boyens, and del Toro can plausibly claim that they only adapted material from The Hobbit and LotR -- but if I were the Tolkien Estate's lawyers, I'd be poring over the movie right now looking for material from Unfinished Tales and any other posthumously-published Tolkien work that the studios never bought the rights for.

All that said? I like the LotR films and the Hobbit film. I'm sorry that Christopher Tolkien wishes they didn't exist, and I feel a little bad about that. I feel worse still about how the studios have treated the Tolkien Estate, and I believe it's genuinely unconscionable that they tried to stiff them out of compensation for the films. And yes, I suspect that the latest movie does adapt material from books it's not legally allowed to. (I'm also none too happy about the reports of union-busting and animal mistreatment, come to that.)

Stuff like this is personal. I believe that, for example, The Avengers hit a point where I couldn't in good conscience pay to see the movie; I believe that The Hobbit, despite the caveats above, did not. I believe the point that Tolkien's heirs do get a substantial amount of money from their father's work -- even if they had to go to court for some of it -- while Kirby's and Heck's heirs don't is a major reason for that. Spurgeon's point is intriguing -- but I really do like to think I've formed my opinions based on the circumstances of the dispute, and not simply looked for facts that made me feel good about seeing a movie I already wanted to see.

tl;dr I think The Hobbit was pretty great. There are some uncomfortable things going on behind the scenes and we should think about those. Personally I don't think they justify a boycott -- but everyone should be aware of them, consider them, and come to their own conclusions.

Digital Demand

Two weeks ago I talked about how now is the greatest time in history to be a comics fan. Among other things, I mentioned Comixology. I've got concerns about Comixology -- it uses a proprietary, DRM-encumbered format, meaning there's a risk of a monopoly, same as any time a single major provider uses a proprietary, DRM-encumbered format -- but ultimately, I think that shit will work itself out. That doesn't mean we shouldn't be concerned, shouldn't complain, shouldn't put pressure on Comixology and the publishers who use it to find another way -- but the music industry ultimately realized that a standards-compliant, DRM-free format was in its best interest, and the book publishers are beginning to get the message too; I think it's only a matter of time for comics. (TV and movies will be dead fucking last to get the message and will, like the music industry, wait until their bottom line has seriously suffered for their foot-dragging, knuckle-dragging stupidity, but they'll come around too.)

At any rate, those caveats in mind, I think that the recent announcement that Comixology is the third-highest earning iPad app of 2012 is a fucking good sign for the comics industry. It shows there's a big demand and it's getting bigger.

Moreover, while I've heard people express concern for years that digital comics will spell the end of print comics, they sure don't seem to be posing a threat -- which makes sense. The way I see it, people who get their comics through Comixology aren't any less likely to buy comics in print; if you've never bought a comic before, then you're not a lost sale, and if you have bought comics from bookstores or especially from specialty shops, you're not going to stop doing that just because you can get them on your iPad or what-have-you now.

For my part, I'm about to get a Nexus 7. For starters, the thing looks pretty small and I'm skeptical that it will even be satisfactory for reading comics on. Even if it is, I am confident it will not compare to the experience of reading a full-size comic.

That said, as I mentioned in that other post, there are a shitload of comics that are not currently in print, and if I find that it is comfortable to read comics on the Nexus 7, I will certainly start reading comics on it that are not available in my local comic shop.

That doesn't mean I'll stop shopping at my local comic shop. It doesn't even mean that I'll spend less money there. It just means I'll have one more way to experience comics (whether they're ones I've bought or acquired for free).

And while I love my local comic shop, it also means that people can make money selling comics to a niche audience without having to worry about print costs or Diamond minimum distribution numbers.

Ultimately, it's not a zero-sum game (except insofar as every consumer's entertainment budget is a zero-sum game). Digital comics doesn't mean the same audience gets the same comics from a different distributor, it means the potential for a new audience and different comics. And those are good things that make the medium richer for all of us.

Simone Wants to Stick Around

The other night I pondered whether Gail Simone would stick with DC or go off and do her own thing. Well, per her tumblr:

I am not giving up on the idea of a major trans character in an ongoing mainstream title without a fight. I want a clear, unambiguous trans character in a prominent, unambiguous and unapologetic role THIS YEAR.

Sure sounds like she's planning on continuing with DC. Or, if not them, moving over to Marvel.

As I indicated the other night, I have mixed feelings about this. There's a part of me, a big part, that loves seeing prominent creators leave DC and Marvel behind and go do their own thing.

But on the other hand, DC and Marvel are still important, their characters are still important, and they're still well-known and accessible (well, commercially, if not narratively). Simone's made a career of bringing more diversity to the DC Universe, and the American comics industry is legitimately better for it.

It bears adding that the most prominent transgender character in the DC Universe right now is probably Shining Knight in Demon Knights, by Paul Cornell, Diógenes Neves, and Bernard Chang. Cornell's done a great job of picking up the baton from Grant Morrison, taking Sir Ystin in a different but altogether natural direction following his introduction in Seven Soldiers. Demon Knights is, itself, quite possibly the most diverse book in the entire superhero genre, but Cornell has pulled off the rather neat trick of making the cast feel organic; each character fits and none ever feels like a token.

(And, per The Outhousers, Cornell's also been one of Gail's most vocal defenders since the announcement of her firing.)

I've got no idea what Gail's got in mind with a book starring a transgender character. I wouldn't bet against a Shining Knight solo book at DC, but there are plenty of other possibilities. Given the Big Two's penchant for recycling characters ("Green Lantern, but black", "Blue Beetle, but Hispanic", "Batwoman, but a lesbian", or, for that matter, "Shining Knight, but transgendered") I'd expect it to tie into an existing brand -- maybe someone from the Batman or Superman family, though I'm thinking it would really be quite appropriate to have it be a character tied into Wonder Woman -- not only has Gail written Wonder Woman before, but Wonder Woman's been the superhero genre's beacon for nontraditional sexual mores since 1941.

It'll be interesting to see what she's got up her sleeve and whether she can get DC or Marvel to publish it.

But in the meantime, she does have some creator-owned work in the pipeline: the Kickstarter-funded Leaving Megalopolis with Jim Calafiore, and something called Field Trip with Amanda Gould, to be published by Mark Waid's Thrillbent.