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Dr Amanda Waller's "Suicide Squad" DC Comics Relaunch Makeover Upsets Fans...

by Tambay A. Obenson
September 15, 2011 2:20 AM
20 Comments
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Comic book enthusiasts will already be well aware of DC Comics' relaunch of its entire line; although the rest of you should know about this, since it's something we covered on this site in 1 or 2 previous posts, given our interests in the black characters that inhabit the DC Comics universe.

The relaunched/revamped series of titles have been gradually unveiled, with the most recent being yesterday's publication for sale of Suicide Squad - a team that's run by Amanda Waller, a character of more than a few affiliations, most recently appearing in the live-action Green Lantern movie this summer, played by Angela Bassett.

Some fanboys/girls who already purchased copies of Suicide Squad #1 since yesterday's launch, have lamented one very significant change from before the series was revamped/relaunched - and that change is in the Amanda Waller character.

Words like "Fail" and "Radical" have been used to described Waller's makeover from, as you can see in the diptych above, shall we say full-bodied, rotund, and not particularly *hot,* to younger, rather svelte, and quite boobilicious.

From Comic Book Resources:

Another casualty of DC’s New 52: Amanda Waller’s weight... Since her introduction in 1986′s Legends #1, the tough-as-nails congressional aide turned Suicide Squad leader turned Checkmate’s White Queen, has been depicted in comics as short and overweight, her size varying from artist to artist. Co-creator John Byrne tended to exaggerate Waller’s features, with her large frame supported by stiletto heels. In more recent years, she’s sported a slimmer look — although she’s never been “thin.” Until Suicide Squad #1, by Adam Glass and Marco Rudy, Waller was one of the few prominent heavy-set characters in superhero comics. Rarer still, her weight wasn’t used for comic relief... or somehow connected to superpowers. In a sea of ageless and impossibly thin and tall figures, Waller stood out as a squat, middle-aged force to be reckoned with. Now, however, “the Wall” is... like much of the DC Universe …

So, the argument there is, in the past, score one for the *normal* looking character in superhero Comic book-dom; but, post-relaunch, point taken away for now blending her in with the rest of the hard-bodied, slim-waisted, voluptuous, if unrealistic-looking hotties that rule comic book pages?

From Racialicious:

What made Waller unique was that she really did look like a regular person – she just had enough of an iron will to maneuver herself into a position of power. For DC to seemingly transform her into one more skinny gal seems to be a particularly arbitrary choice in a company-wide relaunch that has already divided its’ existing fanbase. Or, if this move was made in order to entice new readers to give the new Squad a shot, then who does this company exactly want to attract?

Pretty much the same argument.

So, where do you stand on this, especially if you're a fan of the comic book and character?

By the way, Warner Bros is developing a movie adaptation based on the Suicide Squad comic, so, if it ever comes to fruition, how will Waller be portrayed? As the new or the revamped?

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20 Comments

  • Ann | November 19, 2011 7:06 PMReply

    I just finished reading Suicide Squad #1 and once I saw the new Amanda Waller I couldn't help but become annoyed. In a day and age where girls spend most of their lives trying to live up to impossible standards set by film, magazines, etc this change just seems like DC further contributing to this. It is a very rare thing to have non white characters ( of the human kind) in comics let alone ones who physically represent a percentage of the readers. I hope that the characters personality and intelligence will not go down as her waistline has.

  • rosie | September 29, 2011 9:13 AMReply

    I feel like everyone here is missing part of the point.
    The thing about Amanda Waller is that she is not a sexualized object to be revered and leered at, she is a force. She is called Amanda "The Wall" Waller for a reason. While I respect the fact that DC can do whatever they want, this decision is sort of random. She is an older non superhero originally, I believe her children are grown and gone in the original continuity. Most women in particular put on weight later in life. There was also the fact that she was short, so her weight made her stout. She was this short, big, black woman who looked like all she may have had going for her was her will, until she beat the crap out of someone like Batman. That was part of her "intimidation factor" to me.

    I agree with some of the commentors on here that she helped provide a diversity of body types. She was not meant to be a non-powered photocopy of Vixen(a black sexy female in her own right). I understand why some people ask "Why is the black woman another stereotyped fat chick" I counter with "Why does the black woman have to be another sex doll?". I don't want sexy, though it is nice, I want strong and powerful! I love Wonder Woman for her strength as well as her beauty, but Amanda Waller was not like her. She was not meant to be seen as sexual but powerful.

    Wow so all large black women are mammy's, or have "sass". News to this thick black woman right here.

  • Orville | September 16, 2011 12:58 PMReply

    I think the criticism is a total joke so a black female character in a comic book can't be sexy? I personally like the new version of Dr. Waller. Most women in comic books are attractive so why can't Dr. Waller be pretty too? I think the change should have taken place a long time ago. Yes, Dr. Waller looks a lot better now!

  • VichusSmith | September 16, 2011 9:31 AMReply

    To answer the question, no female superheroes that come to mind are obese. A few villains, however, are obese or are of a large frame, and some male superheroes are as well.

    Amanda Waller can be obese not just because she's black, but more because she's not an a-list character. I don't think Marvel or DC are interested in having an overweight hero. Comics, like most other things, are selling sex, and that's why you wont find a woman drawn in a believable way until you pick up an indie comic.

    When it's done, I think I'll share the final tallies for the top Marvel and DC characters, as voted by readers. It's safe to say that none of these characters count as "thick." Well, maybe Power Girl.

  • Mec | September 16, 2011 9:04 AMReply

    I personally, think the "new" Waller looks wayyyyyyyy better. Why can't more women of color in comics look like this? We are so use to seeing white women portraying the desirable sex symbol on TV, in movies, novels, comics etc. I don't see the major concern here I support this.

  • David H. | September 16, 2011 8:22 AMReply

    if Jennifer Hudson could do it so can The Wall:
    http://suicidesquadtaskforcex.blogspot.com/

  • misha | September 16, 2011 4:11 AMReply

    Hmm...something tells me that if this were a black male character, AV would be singing a different tune. :P

    "Since you are a comic book fan, let me know - how many white and asian female characters are also obese? Or is it just the sistas who gets to ‘represent’ with that type of role?"

    Speak on it, A! :)

  • VichusSmith | September 16, 2011 3:20 AMReply

    No, that's not the point, Orville. In these superhero comics EVERY DAMN BODY is attractive and slim. Amanda Waller was not that, but she was not a mammy stereotype either.


    In the end, what matters is if the character is well written, but if Dc wanted to appeal to a new audience and be diverse, then why would the old look of Amanda Waller totally not fit into that?

  • Orville | September 16, 2011 1:01 AMReply

    And another thing I noticed is in society there seems to be this attitude that an obese or overweight black woman is more palatable. I think it is the whole mammy complex. I think this has to do with the success of Precious. Why can't there be more attention given to slim, beautiful black women. I feel like the pretty black women in great shape tend to be ignored. So I don't see a problem with Dr. Waller becoming a babe.

  • AccidentalVisitor | September 15, 2011 9:59 AMReply

    It doesn't really matter. But I will say there were already enough hot women of all races in comic books. So much that it could give female readers a complex in trying to meet the standards of the drawn bodies of female characters. There was no need to change Amanda Waller, especially since now she will no longer stand out amongst the other fantasy chicks of that medium.

  • A | September 15, 2011 7:06 AMReply

    @ Jennifer -

    I certainly am, and happy about it - I was reading Racialious from the begainning- I bounced a couple years ago, and I haven't looked back.

    Their take on this issue surprises me not at all and does NOTHING to change my mind.

    Just because the person running the site now has dark skin does not mean I have to agree with her – the woman who runs BET is black too. In fact, if this Latoya is the same who used to write for Jezebel . . . . . . . this post isn’t about me, but I don’t agree with her on a few issues, and I’ll leave the issue at that.

    “ To me, there is nothing particularly ground breaking about hot black women, made to act just the way hot white women act. “

    What exactly is that supposed to mean?

    How are black women, hot or not, ‘supposed’ to act?

    Was this Amanda Waller’s personality changed? Is she less intelligent? Less strong? Or did she simply lose the weight? It’s a serious question – if they turned her into a stupid, incapable woman, than that would be an issue. But if she has the same personality in a nicer package, I think that’s a good thing.

    A woman (of any color) can be attractive and bad ass at the same time.

    Since you are a comic book fan, let me know - how many white and asian female characters are also obese? Or is it just the sistas who gets to ‘represent’ with that type of role?

    I would bet that there are other fit comic book female characters of other races with strong, forceful personalities.

    It’s not just for the ‘fan boys’ that someone mentioned – it’s not just them - these kinds of movies are about fantasy. I don't read these comic books, but if I’m going to an action/comic book type movie, part of the experience is the special effects, and the beautiful people.

    Who goes to see Spiderman or Green Lantern looking for 'realism' anyway? Hell, I can go see all the real people I want at the mall.

  • Jennifer | September 15, 2011 5:44 AMReply

    @A You are behind the times with Racialicious

    Latoya Peterson is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García is the Managing Editor. You can email us at team@racialicious.com. The founder of Racialicious is Carmen Sognonvi, who has moved on to other projects.


    Latoya and has actually been around for a pretty damn long time. In addition to which, I am not sure what on earth you are talking about re: your idea that they think all black woman are Celie and Precious.

    As for the "make her sexy look", lawdy. Ya know, being fat does not equal being a Mammy in an of itself. There is a set of behaviours that go with that, all of which Amanda Waller did not exhibit. There are not a whole lot of black woman in the DC universe, but all of them that I was aware of were thin and sexualized like everyone else. Amanda Waller didn't need to be another sex object. And if they had made her thin and kept her "don't fuck with me vibe" it would have been better.

    To me, there is nothing particularly ground breaking about hot black women, made to act just the way hot white women act. There is nothing particularly ground breaking about sexualized women in the comics universe, period. Being a badass normal who could face down the superpowered, now that was something to pay attention to. And I really wish that people would stop saying "fanboys" so damn dismissively, completely ignoring the rather large amount of girl comic geeks, who I am quite sure are among the chorus of "WTFs!!!" arising from this nonsense.

    In any case, I long ago lost all faith in the big ones and am looking for indie stuff to present a picture of women that is more rounded than than "sex object."

  • Jug | September 15, 2011 4:43 AMReply

    I'm with SonofBaldwin, I'm split. I vaguely know of the character but I understand the debate on a general level. Why does the black female always have to be "fat"? Can't tell you the number of breakdowns & scripts I read where they have a Black female character that is overweight, chubby, "tough as nails", pretty much any adjective you can think of that is just this side of "manly" or unattractive-especially in comedy . But then she's super smart or strong willed, super-talented or has a "good heart" (GLEE anyone?). RARE where they have a Black female that is a Joan Cusack or Zooey Deschanel type. Comics are no different.

    I don't mind the character being Black, female & overweight or having any of those attributes-that gives depth. I also don't mind if she's now Boobalicious (Misha had me cracking up LOL). What I DO mind, is that there aren't enough characters to the contrary, and CERTAINLY no white female characters that are overweight. Because let's be real, there are FAT people all over the place, regardless of color. So give that as a representation, that there are more female characters of other colors that are just as big or "regular".

    I get the whole revamp tho, it serves a number of purposes. Tries to ease or dispel the BS that came before, gives horny fan boys something to look at & it actually plays better for film/tv adaptations. We have to acknowledge the synergy of comics with film/tv, Sam Jackson was the prototype for the new Nick Fury & I'm sure Angela being cast as Amanda Waller in GREEN LANTERN was not lost on DC comics-may have even been the impetus for the change. It's easier to cast a relatively slim Black woman in Hollywood than it is an overweight one...the Gabby's of the world exist, but not represented at the major agencies-which most people connect with talent level. Trust it'll be the new, revamped Waller in the movie. Sucks that the stereotype has persisted for so long, it actually has caused a reaction that stifles creative & interesting choices.

    But the dust up is silly. Fan Boys are notorious for "don't change it, keep it how it is". Even though the characters in comics NEVER age & go thru multiple incarnations visually. Many hated the new look Superman/Superboy, the new Wonder Woman etc etc.

    Can't make everybody happy.

  • A | September 15, 2011 4:27 AMReply

    @ Misha -

    LOL - Girl I don't know - I had to stop reading Racialicious ( same with Jezebel)- I have never read an article there about black women that I feel like is accurate.

    And when the issue of media images or marriage or fashion images or almost anthing come up . . . . . let's just say I usually disagree with their stance. The website is run by an Asian woman, which is fine, but I feel that's the reason her views (and interests) do not align with mine.

    According to Racialicious, every black woman is Precious or Celie from the Color Purple. It paints a depressing, beaten down picture of black women that is just not true.

    Some of us are happy, fit, in relationships and living life to the fullest, you know what I mean?

  • VichusSmith | September 15, 2011 4:23 AMReply

    For once I am with the "this is not hat I'm used to!" comics crowd. The point about Amanda Waller is that despite her weight, she wasn't a "sassy" stereotype, which usually goes with that weight. She was not to be fucked with, and her nickname, The Wall not only had to do with her size but her unwillingness to stand down. Batman? She'll take him on!

    DC has tried to be diverse in their relaunch, but how diverse is your world when all your heroes and villains look like they work out 10 hours a week?

  • misha | September 15, 2011 4:09 AMReply

    Oops, typo...meant she not see.

    @A I totally agree with you. Well except, I actually like the commentary on Racialicious...most of the time. LOL

  • misha | September 15, 2011 4:05 AMReply

    Hmm, I understand why some take issue with this decision. But frankly, why does this one character have to be the poster child for "regular" people? Why can't see be boobilicious like all the others? :D

  • A | September 15, 2011 3:57 AMReply

    Her new look is great! Hello? I fully support this change. Esp. if they are going to be making a film – Plenty of black actresses don’t fit the frumpy stereotype, and are looking for work.

    Can't stand Racialious – it’s a black women hating website - they take the wrong stance on everything concerning black women – but that’s too long to get into here.

    If they truly want different body types, (which is a good idea) I think someone could make the argument that a fat, frumpy white woman would be groundbreaking - how many times do we get see that? And it would give a role to a talented actress like Kathy Bates (who isn't even that big) or the girl from Hairspray. There are plenty of excellent heavy set white actresses out there who need work.

    But can someone tell me what is groundbreaking about yet another mammy? I feel like I see that all the time. It is much more 'groundbreaking' to have a slim, sex symbol type black woman.

    Why is it always black women who must add to this 'diveristy of body' types? For some reason they're always happy to give black women those roles . . . . . ever wonder why?

    I am all for getting white full figured women in movies or frumpy white maids or ghetto/trailer park type white women - I would have no problem with that at all. I would fully support it in the name of diversity. And it would actually BE groundbreaking, because it would be different from the usual.

    But how much do you want to bet that will never happen?

  • Neziah | September 15, 2011 3:41 AMReply

    I agree with sonofbaldwin, Waller dispelled her stereotypical appearance with grace and intelligence, which carried on in the JLU animated series.

  • sonofbaldwin | September 15, 2011 3:06 AMReply

    I'm split on this:

    This is kind of sad because Amanda Waller, despite having the stereotypical appearance of a "Mammy," actually did a great deal to dispel the stereotype. She was an overweight black woman who was smarter than everyone in the room and could hold her own amongst some of the most dangerous people on the planet. Sad to see her go.

    I can also see how Waller added to a diversity of body types in an industry that idealizes one particular look.

    On the other hand, I can see how DC Comics might want to move away from any images that can be interpreted as stereotypical or influenced by a Mammy paradigm.

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