Last summer, I attended a thesis presentation by one of my classmates. It was on the portrayal of women and minorities in comic books. I wasn't the only girl there, but I was the first one to arrive. As we waited for kick off and were casually discussing the topic, one of the other students piped up, "Hey, let's ask her -- you're a girl who reads comics, what do YOU think of Frank Miller? Is he a misogynist or what?"

Yikes. And I've since learned that no man or woman ever expects you to say "No" to that question. If you say "No, I really don't," jaws will drop and everyone will say "But what about that Vicki Vale thing?" Damning, to be sure -- but 95% of comic book writers and illustrators do the exact same thing. But, to make a long story short, I always point to Elektra, and we all begrudgingly agree to disagree.

Well, over at the official website for The Spirit, Miller has posted a new production blog. While he never specifically addresses the charges against him (and may not even be thinking of them as he posted this), Miller nevertheless has written a spirited defense. "I love writing tough, powerful women." And he has set out to do just that with one chick specifically -- Ellen Dolan, love interest of the title character. The character has proved to be a challenge, a weak stereotype of the age in which she was created. Miller calls her "a lousy character" and complains, "[The Spirit] even tossed her over his knee and spanked her. And she took it. Ellen Dolan made Donna Reed look like Angelina Jolie."
So he has set about changing her, trying to make her into a worthy love interest and the kind of heroine we can watch without cringing. He's given her a job, for one -- she's now a doctor, and one who can use her scalpels with deadly efficiency. I can't imagine what kind of commotion this will cause among Spirit fans. The fallout is not going to be pretty. Will they actually embrace a blade-wielding Ellen Dolan? But if Miller had left her untouched and accurate, would everyone have shrieked that he succumbed to his misogynist tendencies? Or will the new Ellen Dolan be something along Vicki Vale lines, and become just so much fuel to the fire?

I'll give Miller the benefit of the doubt. I always do. He created Elektra.