Latest DC reboot controversy isn't the costumes: It's fat phobia!

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Dec 15, 2012

When you look at the numbers, DC's new 52 relaunch has been a huge success. That doesn't mean it hasn't been without its complications, though. Issues involving female characters seem to keep cropping up and raising eyebrows and questions. The newest controversy can be summed up in two words—no fatties!

Suicide Squad #1 was already primed to be a contentious comic. When people protested the DC 52 at San Diego Comic Con, one of the biggest complaints was the change in costume for Harley Quinn. People were upset because her old outfit was so classic and because her new one is, well ... kind of slutty. Now that the comic is out and people have actually read it, a much larger problem has arisen—DC has taken the squad's leader, Amanda "The Wall" Waller, from overweight to thin without so much as an explanation.

Amanda Waller, pre-relaunch, was a rare animal in comics. She was a woman who was older, of color, and large without being the butt of any jokes as a result. Like Batman, she had no super powers. She relied on her keen intellect when she went toe to toe with the spandex-wearing crowd. She came from poverty, she lost her family, but she picked herself up, got her doctorate, became a congressional aide and eventually took charge of an elite group of semi-reformed supervillains called the Suicide Squad

We don't know much about post-relaunch Amanda Waller. What we do know is that, in the one image in which she appears, she is young and thin. Even if all her other character traits remain, that's a very big change. How many women like Waller can you name in comics? They are virtually nonexistent, and, right now, it seems as though DC may be erasing women like her from the DCU completely, on purpose or not.

While it should be more important what Waller does than what kind of body she has, it's worth noting that our culture simply doesn't work that way. People are judged and valued based on how they look at least as much as on what they can do. Translating to comics, when we read works of fiction, we are attracted to people we can identify with, and physical appearance and background play a big part in that.

Changing Waller's age and body type will inevitably alienate some readers. Some people will say that taking characters like Waller out of the equation makes DC complicit in silencing and, effectively, erasing women like her in the real world. Others will maintain that what matters most is what this new incarnation of Waller does in the coming issues.

What do you think?

(via Comic Book Resources)