For those who don't remember, Pandora was the first human woman created by the gods (specifically wise Athena and smithy Hephaestus, under instructions from Zeus). She was forged from the dirt of the Earth, and delivered to the world of man as retribution for Prometheus' earlier theft of fire; Zeus intended her to be a "beautiful evil," whose descendants would torture humanity for untold eons. Long story short, Pandora arrived on land, opened a jar she shouldn't have, just because she was curious (as well as deceitful, 'cause you know, WOMEN, amirite?), and thus unleashed a multitude of sins meant to plague the planet.
After reading this tale, I put the book away for a good month. Even at eleven years of age, I remember disliking the idea that a lady might be the cause of all humanity's problems, through no extreme fault of her own. Of course, this wasn't the first time I'd heard such a story. Eve ate some forbidden fruit after being talked into it by the devil, and corrupted Adam. Just taking one bite led to original sin, Cain and Abel, and all the pain women experience in childbirth. Geez, ladies can't catch a break when it comes to hypotheses about where sin comes from, eh?
Fast forward to last week. DC released Pandora #1, as part of its exploration of the "Trinity of Sin" that apparently might end the New 52 (or something?). I've already expressed my thoughts on one part of the Trinity, i.e., Phantom Stranger, otherwise known as Judas -- so I believe it's safe to bluntly admit I didn't have high hopes for Pandora as a character. First off, there's the name, which carries all the victim-blaming baggage you could ever want. Second, she's been creepily appearing in panels all over DC's comics line, leading many to believe she caused the universal reboot, and exists merely as an editorial reverse rip cord, to be pulled if DC starts making less money on their books than projected. However, Pandora #1 promised to shed a little light on this woman as a flesh-and-blood character, so I felt duty-bound to put my judgment aside, and embrace whatever DC wanted to do with the lady.
Here's where DC adds a little flavor to the myth. See, after a while, it gets tiring to witness what the sins are up to (eating people, inciting the Crusades, stuff like that), so Pandora decides to act, rather than accept her terrible reputation. One intense combat training montage later, she's equipped with a pair of magical guns that she starts whipping around in modern-day Aleppo.
Let's think about that for a bit. Two years ago, DC revamped its line of books to be grittier tales centered around the alienation of heroes from humanity. That, I can accept, even though I believe the company's characters work better as aspirational icons, not money-grabbing cynics. What I can't accept is the company's tone-deaf approach to interacting with the real world. It's already a pretty stupid move to alienate female readers by retreading an outdated "women bring about evil through no choice of their own" idea. It's an even dumber one to bring a magical character into a conflict as in-progress as what's going on in Syria. Especially given what happens there:
If so, Fawkes and company move us along too briskly to pass judgment. No sooner has murder been committed than Pandora is given the keys to her salvation; she must get Superman to open a box that will apparently solve her sin-wrangling problem. So all the questions and concerns just raised don't matter. I'm supposed to move on. But how can I when my intelligence and heart are being completely pushed aside in favor of plot and forward momentum? I'm already being told on a daily basis I don't matter to DC because I'm a woman. I'm not going to sit by and accept bullshit like this because it's edgy. And if you wanted me to care about Pandora and her redemption, you failed, DC. On any number of levels, you failed. I am not even sure you understand redemption as a concept, since "Man of Steel" makes Superman into Jesus, when Superman's arrival on earth has nothing to do with redeeming humanity, but inspiring it. With this killing, you reveal yourselves, though. The truth is, you are a corporation that doesn't give a shit about people, which shouldn't surprise me, except you keep finding new ways to cash in on insecurity, tragedy, and female-bashing.
When folks tell me comics are childish, I counter with examples that prove it is a medium that can be child-like in its imagination and wonder, while pointing out more mature work that explores complex emotions and ideas. Is it any wonder I have no real recommendations from DC these days? Most of its books right now are the very definition of childish -- silly, thoughtlessly consequential, and simplistic. Just like that Pandora myth I read so long ago.