Well folks, DC is restarting their universe all over again. With the conclusion of Death Metal in December, the Rebirth universe is no more; Starting in March, the company begins Infinite Frontier, in which the characters inhabit an omniverse rather than a multiverse, and everything is canonical, including any contradicting continuities from the past. If that sounds frustrating, confusing, and more than a little silly, welcome to comics!
This is the fourth major reboot for the company and the third since I started reading comics, and I’m back to bang the drum I always pounded in DC’s eardrums: where are the women? Did you hire her this time? Or do we see the same embarrassing inequality between the sexes as always?
The all-round coverage of Infinite Frontier # 0. Many of the female, BIPOC, and LGBTQ + characters depicted here are not confirmed in any comic.
To get those numbers, I looked at DC’s requests for March 2021, when Infinite Frontier officially launches. I looked at both Infinite Frontier and DC’s entire catalog of single issues for this month. Please also note that I am only including creators listed in the inquiries – writers, pencillers, and other cover artists – and have no information on ink cartridges, colorists, and writers.
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For all I can tell, 19 books will be published in the Omniverse of the Infinite Frontier universe in March starting with Infinite Frontier # 0, an anthology book with 21 male creators and only 3 women. This is a single book by two dozen authors, only 12.5% of whom are female.
This turned out to be predictive as I identified 80 men and only 12 women – 13% women – in the 19 Infinite Frontier books in March. If we look at all of DC’s books for this month, not just Infinite Frontier, that number is infinitely higher: 35 books with 116 men and 19 women makes a 14% female lineup. I also isolated the numbers for DC’s Black Label adult reader imprint to test my suspicions that prestige comics are even more male-centric than mainstream comics, and found that this is true when it is not is true enough to be statistically significant. nine books with 28 men and four women or 12.5% women. (While it’s worth noting that not only are more men getting jobs, the men who get jobs get more jobs too – there are as many Black Label books written by Tom King in March alone (three) as there are black label books by women (Katana Collins, G. Willow Wilson, and Kami Garcia each have one).)
Hmm, I thought there were more Infinite Frontier books coming out in April. Maybe some of them have female creators!
So I looked at the requests for April. There are four new books to be added to the Infinite Frontier series, with a total of 16 authors. Not one of these creators is a woman.
To the best of my knowledge, DC has no non-binary creators with a book in March or April.
The fictional representation may be less important than the diversity of creators, but it matters so let’s look at that too. Now DC 2021 is experimenting with more anthology books – Batman, for example, will have three books as headings that also include backup functions with different leads – so it’s a little difficult to say how many characters are starring in books. If Grifter has a backup feature in Batman: Urban Legends but neither his name nor his face is on the cover, is he still a star? (Also Grifter? Really?)
But let’s put it that way. Of the 19 Infinite Frontier books released in March, only three have a female headliner: Catwoman, Harley Quinn, and Wonder Woman. If we include backup features, Harley also has a slot in Batman: Urban Legends. In April this slot goes to Barbara Gordon. The male backup roles in this book (Red Hood and Grifter) and those of the ensemble (Outsiders) do not change.
There are five solo books with a male lead and no backup functions. There are four with a male lead and all male backup features (Superman stars Jon Kent and Jimmy Olsen, action comics stars Clark Kent and Midnight, and Batman and detective comics stars Bruce and Damian Wayne). There is Batman: Urban Legends, in which either one man (Batman) or three male leads, a woman and a team play the lead roles, depending on how you see it. And there are six Ensemble books, one of which (Batman / Superman) does not contain women.
April brings us three more male-led books, including another Batman book, and an Ensemble book (assuming Green Lantern isn’t necessarily all about Hal Jordan).
And while I’m not comfortable making assumptions about the race or sexuality of the creators and using it to create these stats, fictional characters are a fair game, so I can tell you there aren’t any Infinite Frontier books in March of solo There are color cues unless you count Nightwing and Catwoman, both of whom were occasionally but inconsistently depicted as POC. If you add backup functionality there is Damian Wayne who has been whitewashed on a regular basis as well. April brings us Tim Fox in The Next Batman and Damian in a new Robin series.
In terms of LGBTQ + leads, we have Harley Quinn and Wonder Woman, both of whom occupy an odd borderline of “canonically bisexual but occasionally from DC’s real cage.” And when you add backup capabilities, there is midnighter.
Not a supergirl, despite five successful seasons on television. No Black Lightning except in the Outsiders backup function. Not a Batwoman. No Constantine. The only look at any of the Batgirls is the April backup of Barbara Gordon. Stargirl gets a backup feature in Infinite Frontier # 0, but what then?
But hey! Grifter is back! Although nobody asks about him!
Infinite Frontier is a new universe, the first created under the direction of Daniel Cherry III, the new Senior Vice President of DC, and her new Editor-in-Chief Marie Javins. Both Cherry and Javins have spoken about the importance of diversity. This could have been the start of a new day that reflected the real state of the world we live in and the real diversity of comic book readers.
But these numbers look identical to the ones I wrote down last year. They look identical to the state of gender diversity at DC ten years ago, before the introduction of the New 52 saw the proportion of female creators drop from 12% to 1%. If it took DC a whole decade to return to the already completely unacceptable status quo, something is wrong. And there is no evidence that they deal with either gender segregation or the widespread sexual misconduct alleged by DC, let alone racial discrimination.
DC can restart at will with increasing frequency. But until they address their systemic problems of attitudes, management and storytelling, everything else is just window dressing. Universe, multiverse or omniverse, Infinite Frontier looks the same to me.