Words such as "iconic" and "prolific" are thrown around a lot in the digital age. What used to take decades of tedious work building one's career can now be accomplished in half the time thanks to critical and social recognition being amplified across the globe through the click of a button. What's tragic is that people in any industry can become a household name with only a fraction of the talent of superstars who have come before them; this is not the case with Gail Simone. Not only has she broken through the proverbial glass ceiling in a male-dominated industry, she has become one of the most well-respected members of her craft regardless of gender. Her name is synonymous with comedic genius, female empowerment and agency for the underrepresented, be they disabled, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or otherwise singled out for being different. That is why it is utterly mind-boggling that she would be so carelessly discharged from her position writing Batgirl. I'm sure many readers, myself included, have daydreamed about Simone penning Batgirl well into her twilight years, as impractical as that may be. While we may have expected her run on Batgirl to come to an end eventually, for her exit to occur after only two years on the book comes as an abrupt and frankly, frightening turn of events.
I've mentioned before in "Batgirl: Gay Icon?" and "Batwoman: Triple Threat", that DC Comics has had a well documented history of questionable, if not outright deplorable representation of female characters. Gail Simone's own observations through her web site Women in Refrigerators is what led to her breakthrough into the comic book medium, which has proved to be a critically and financially successful career. This raises so many questions, such as why would such an accomplished writer (and one of the regrettably few female writers in comics) be so readily dismissed from one of the world's most iconic characters, especially considering she has already proven her merit depicting Barbara Gordon in Birds of Prey? However, for the sake of argument, let's just forget her critically acclaimed runs on Marvel Comics' Deadpool or DC Comics' Secret Six as well as Birds of Prey. After all, politics and sociology aside, DC Comics is a for-profit organization and whether we like it or not, the bottom dollar is the variable that speaks the loudest in editorial or executive decisions. Since the relaunch of DC Comics' New 52 in 2011, Simone's run on Batgirl has generated an estimated two million in sales (and I'm rounding down) starting with issue #1 (September, 2011) - #13 (October, 2012). Granted, that figure is not nearly as large as sales for the likes of Justice League or Avengers vs X-men, but it is not scrapping the bottom of the barrel either. Factoring in all the information presented above, this editorial mandate makes absolutely no sense. Social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr are aflame with repremands for DC Comics, as readers far and wide furiously hit their keyboards in defense of Simone.
As much as writing this article feels like writing a eulogy, I have to knock some sense into my own head by acknowledging Simone's career is far from over. If the overwhelming support from her Kickstarter project Leaving Megalopolis is any indication, she'll be at the forefront of the comic book industry for years to come, even if she never pens for a major publisher ever again. I am far less optimistic however, about the future of Batgirl, DC Comics, female writers and the readers they hope to inspire. God help the poor soul fated to write Batgirl following our Lady's departure.
Last Updated: Jan 1, 2015 - 15:08 Join the discussion: