On January 13, Ben and I attended the DC in DC 2018 event. The writers of Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, Julie and Shawna Benson, attended and spoke at the “Wonder Women” panel about feminism and more. Ben and I were able to sit down with them in the press room to talk about their work.
The sisters were asked about how far the think feminism has come in the industry.
“It’s empowering. I’ve never been a shy flower. I speak my mind to my own detriment. But now at least other women are doing the same thing and feel empowered to support each other and to talk about how much we make behind the scenes so that we all are informed, because if we’re not educated and keep everything as a secret we’re never going to advance. We can’t get past it. We’re surrounded by so many good men too. We’re lucky that we’ve had a lot of good peers and good support in comics and TV,” Julie said.
I thanked the sisters for making Barbara Gordon become Oracle again. I told them it was like a comic book version of a hug. They seemed genuinely touched.
“I think it was something we kind of evolved into. I don’t know that it was necessarily in our original game plan. It was sort of this idea of ‘lets have a new Oracle and see what happens.’ And we thought ‘that’s fine, but Barbara Gordon is Oracle, so let’s all agree on that.’ I think that being able to come to that and there being support for that [from] DC [with them] saying ‘yea this is right, you should do this,” Shawna explained.
“They’ve been one board with almost every decision. It’s been really great. ‘Can we have Ivy, can we have Catwoman’. They check, ‘yea yea’. You have to be careful about continuity, but we steal whoever we can all the time,” Julie said.
A Poison Ivy fan asked a question about her role in the Birds and Julie said “She [Ivy] needs her own title”.
“We were really excited in the Manslaughter arc giving her, she got the win. She got to come up the potion that saved everyone. And to us that was so important because she can be seen as the villain and giving her a heroic moment, I think, is important for hero or villain to understand that at the base level she is a human,” Julie continued.
“It was also a heroic moment that didn’t involve her superpowers. Her other superpower is her intelligence and her scientific knowledge. It’s that which got them across the finish line solving the problem and curing everybody. So I think for us it’s always like if we can find a way to indicate that it’s not always about how hard you can punch somebody or tying them up in vines or whatever it is. You can win through other means and usually your wits. That was a very ‘Barbara as Oracle’ thing. That was pretty much what she had, except for the couple of times she attacked people with nun-chucks from her wheelchair which was bad-ass. Generally you want to hone in on many different ways of portraying the character. We like being able to give Ivy that,” Shawna said.
“I hope she has a book someday, that would be pretty great,” Julie followed. Would you read a Poison Ivy title? Sound off in the comments below.