Amanda Waller Creator John Ostrander Writes About Character’s ‘Sexy’ Redesigns
Of all the redesigns that took place for DC's "New 52" relaunch, the one that was most disappointing to the staff of ComicsAlliance was undoubtedly the one that hit Amanda Waller. Rather than the short, stout, and impossibly tough woman who appeared in the pages of John Ostrander, Kim Yale and Luke McDonnell's Suicide Squad, the redesigned Waller was young, slim and sexy. She was, in other words, just like every other "idealized" body type in superhero comics, and lost a bit of what made her unique.
Well, it seems our disappointment has found us in good company, alongside no less than Ostrander himself. In a column at ComicMix that went up this week, the writer expressed both a love of the character he shaped for over 60 issues, and a dismay at how the character's redesign conflicts with his original intent.
Perhaps unsurprisingly to longtime fans, Waller has become one of DC's most prominent characters in recent years -- certainly among the non-superhero characters in their mass media projects, up there with Alfred, Commissioner Gordon and Lois Lane -- appearing in the Justice League animated series, the Green Lantern film, the CW's Smallville and Arrow, and even the Arkham series of video games. But while Justice League stuck close to the source material for her design, and Smallville cast the legendary Pam Grier, recent comics and adaptations, particularly Cynthia Addai-Robinson's portrayal on Arrow, have pushed her to what Ostrander accurately calls "model thin and young and, well, sexy."
As he says in his column:
I don’t control what happens with Waller or where she goes or how she looks; she is owned by DC Entertainment and Warners. I knew that going in. She is their property. That said, I think the changes made in her appearance are misguided. There were and are reasons why she looked the way she did. I wanted her to seem formidable and visually unlike anyone else out there. Making her young and svelte and sexy loses that. She becomes more like everyone else. She lost part of what made her unique.
It's important to note that what Ostrander says in his column is far from a "rant" about misuse of his characters. In fact, he likens Waller to a child who has grown up to become something that is appropriately beyond his control -- and who, in a great metaphor for his relationship as a creator of a popular character, "occasionally sends money home" -- and mentions that he looks forward to seeing her on television, even though the design is at odds with his original intent.
Still, that his concerns echo ours says a lot about where DC Entertainment has been taking the character in recent years, and raises the question of how valuable characters who don't have a typical look can be in superhero comics.
For more, check out his original column.