When you think of the Ame-Comi line of statues featuring DC’s most famous heroines and villainesses one thing comes to mind: fan service. These anime-inspired maquettes usually see Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Batgirl, etc in skimpy, tight costumes posed in some alluring fashion. They are not what you first think of when you’re looking for a feminist voice in super hero comics. They’re cheesecake, right? Maybe, when they’re only statues you place on a bookshelf to, uh, stare at; but give them some life, a backstory, an adventure all their own and the Ame-Comi girls could transform into some of the most female-friendly depictions of these characters, yet.
DC has begun a digital only, weekly comic that is doing just that. Called Ame-Comi Girls and written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, the weekly series is exploring the origins of five Ame-Comi figures: Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, Power Girl, and Duela Dent. Existing in a universe not held by the continuity of New 52 in where the heroes and villains are all women, it’s a project that could very easily have become another comic where female characters are portrayed as sexy objects with fantastic racks. Thankfully, Gray and Palmiotti are handling the Ame-Comi girls with finesse and have actual interest in telling an engaging story with these characters.
The first arc featuring Wonder Woman has just wrapped and I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. It’s a fun reimagining of the Amazon Princess’ first visit as ambassador to the U.S. This Wonder Woman is tough, headstrong and tempestuous. She’s a much younger character than the Wonder Woman of the New 52 and therefore more reckless. Yet even when dressed in the revealing and at times ridiculous outfits common in the Ame-Comi line she demands your respect. I believe Gray and Palmiotti have really honed in on a definitive version of Wonder Woman that fans young and old will recognize and love.
In fact, what’s kind of interesting, particularly in this third issue which features a brawl between Wonder Woman and Cheetah, is you get a sense this is closer to what Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston, had envisioned for the character. He had this view of woman as the dominant sex and in a world filled with only female super heroes, well, yeah, they’re clearly more powerful and could be in charge. Marston also had a kink for bondage which is why Wonder Woman’s most famous weapon is a lasso. In that fight with Cheetah, Wonder Woman finally defeats her by restraining her with the lasso of truth, and it’s so easy to imagine such a scene playing out in any classic Wonder Woman comic.
Now, for a series all about busty, beautiful women the art is really, really important. Right away the artwork will tell you whether or not you’re in for a book that is treating these characters like sex dolls, or, y’know, like characters. There is no need to worry with art from Amanda Conner and Tony Akins. For one, Conner is the artist who took Power Girl, drew her with her iconic bosom but never let the breasts take over the design. What she brings to Wonder Woman and her revealing outfits is much of the same. She’s one of those few artist who understand sexy and being objectified are not the same thing.
On this third issue the pencils are taken over by Tony Akins and while he never treads into cheesecake territory the art does suffer from Conner’s absence. She has a stronger grasp of Wonder Woman, particularly when it comes to her face, than Akins. Every few panels Wonder Woman looked like a different person in the third issue, as if Akins wasn’t really sure she should look. Had Akins been drawing all three issues this might not have been such a problem, but when you transition from Conner’s fantastic work on the first two the change in artist, and therefore quality, is really noticeable.
If you’re looking for fun comic where the ladies play part in all the action you really need to check out Ame-Comi Girls. Sure, it’s kind of silly because it’s based on statues with outrageous fashion, but they’re presenting these characters with care and with craft. With Wonder Woman’s origin wrapped they’re moving on to Batgirl, which brings the promise of more action from villainesses Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Duela Dent – a character I’m really interested to see more of. Will she be like the Joker, Harley Quinn, the original Joker’s Daughter, or something new and all he own? Gotta be reading to find out, and for a buck an issue it’s one of the best deals out there.