Superman, a Kpop Idol who spends as much time worrying about his hair as he does saving the world? Flash, a teen-age girl with a serious crush on Green Arrow? Batman spending six issues searching for the perfect bra to wear while fighting crime?
It’s not your father’s Justice League, and that, DC Comics Editor in Chief Bob Harras says, is the point. “The white male super-hero thing is played out,” he said, during our conversation at the Manhattan Office of DC comics. “People are tired of that. But what if Superman, Batman and the others found themselves in an alternate universe where they were not just Kpop Idols, but female Kpop Idols?”
“For the first few issues,” Harras goes on the explain, “they were the men they’d always been, but now dealing with the pressures and lives of young women — 19-20– so there was a lot of adjusting going on. It was Batman having to get used to wearing skirts, Superman getting hit on by creepy older men. As the series progresses, though, we will see them all starting to think and act like young women, struggling to balance their careers and personal lives with their obligations as super heroes. Batman’s mother guilts him into baby-sitting his younger sister, for example, and he ends up having to drag her along when Joker kidnaps Green Arrow.”
Internet response has been mixed, to say the least. Internet trolls have railed against the series, calling Harras everything from a “politically correct wimp” to a “desperate attention whore.” Some feminists have complained about the portrayal of the characters, and what defines them as female. “It’s cute to see Superman supper shopping, rushing to the salon to get his hair done after a big fight, but this just re-enforces the idea that women are defined by shopping and narcissism. As Clark Kent, he was supposed to be kind of a nerd, why is so obsessed with fashion now that he’s Klarci Kenji?”
“Superman was successful,” Harras counters. “A successful journalist. This series portrays the reality that for him now to successful as a young woman and an idol, he needs to be stylish. That’s also why he spends so much time worrying about his make-up. It’s not genetic, but the result of societal pressures.”
The romantic tensions between the various characters have also raised some eyebrows. Flash finds himself with a girl crush on the now pretty and female Green Arrow. He goes to comic lengths to try and get Green Arrow’s attention, even breaking into her apartment and waiting for her in his bed, dressed in a Sailor Moon costume. Batman and Superman, meanwhile, have had several hot exchanges full of simmering and so far repressed sexual tension. Each of the characters has also met young men who have flirted with them and taken them out on dates. Green Arrow, in particular, has fallen hard for a young man from a wealthy and prestigious family.
“I love how sweet and romantic they have all become,” one reader who identifies herself as female, wrote on her blog. “I think they are all wonderful girls.”
Another writes that she feels they have all “found their true selves. They are free of phallic hangups and are now expressing their feelings.”
Many fans speculate that this is a publicity stunt intended to boost sales of the comic books, similar to previous gimmicks, but Harras denies the accusation. “We’ve signed licensing agreements with toy companies, video games designers. These obligate us to keep these characters as they are for years. And, if you haven’t heard, we are already in development with our parent company, Warner, to make a KPOP Justice League movie, starring Shin Se-kyung as Superman.”
“Superman is an Asian girl now,” Harras said. “And he will be for a long time.”