March is Women’s History Month and after what was arguably the best Black History Month the party cannot stop after Feb 29th. In honor of the hashtag #BlackWomenHistoryMonth, we will be celebrating our favorite black heroines and villains, continuing with our favorite anti-hero Amanda Waller. This is a space in which I often preach about representation for PoC and women in an industry that is predominantly run by white men. Because of the importance of this month for Black women and the necessity that they be seen, heard, and uplifted in comic books, film, and television, it is a personal honor to me that my Blavity fam, Joi, is taking over the column to tell you about this Black woman hero, and what she means to her. – Ira

Who is Amanda Waller?

Amanda Blake “The Wall” Waller, is a government official, well-known as being in charge of the Suicide Squad. She first appears in DC comics 1986’s Legends #1 and we get her origin story in 1987’s Secret Origins Vol. 2 #14.

What makes her super?

Waller has always played an interesting role in DC’s universe because she held power over superheroes and villains alike, but did not have any superpowers of her own. Waller experienced her own issues from being widowed and losing two of her children. However, through her sheer determination and willpower, she obtained her degree and worked as a congressional aide. Taking her knowledge and smarts underground, Waller proposed and ran the Suicide Squad. She also formed the Agency (later known as Checkmate), one of the many secret, smaller branches of government in the DC universe. It is Waller’s no-nonsense attitude, always pushing beyond people expect of her and ability to keep all the receipts that make Waller an important character in the DC Universe.

Source: DC wiki. Suicide Squad Vol 1. #10. This is Waller threatening Batman on the cover. Yes, that Batman.

Where is she now?

Unlike Ms. Knight, Ms. Waller has had many portrayals in both TV, film and video games. Her upcoming appearance will be in the film Suicide Squad, coming August 5th, 2016. She will be portrayed by Viola Davis.

Photo: giphy
Photo: giphy

Learning about Waller was a great joy for me because I naturally gravitate toward heroes, not anti-heroes or villains. Many describe Waller as a villain, but from reading some of her appearances in the comics, I have seen her more as an anti-hero. The obvious would be due to her line of work and who she works with. But it is also some of the decisions that she has made, like aligning with superheroes to act as her conscience, that I see glimpses of Waller trying to maintain her humanity. No matter how dirty or shady the job is, I have been resolved to see Waller as just a person who can shine in her position even if the position is not of good intentions.

I have found that my favorite thing about Waller is her nickname, ‘The Wall’. Often people do not put much mental stake in thinking about what a wall is. But when I sat down and thought about it, ‘The Wall’ really added more dimension to Waller’s character. By definition, a wall is a continuous vertical brick or stone structure that encloses or divides an area of land. It is a difficult thing to break down, and to get through it you better be prepared. Waller embodies this through her presence and aura. Before New 52, she served as that stone structure between the major government and the Squad. She went against orders for valid (and sometimes personal) reasons, making her superiors not pleased. On the other side, when working with the Squad members and some heroes, her word was law. Her existence demanded respect and attention.

The irony of all of this is that her appearance would dictate otherwise. Waller, in the comics, looks like your standard Black auntie. Created by John Ostrander, Len Wein, and John Byrne, she was a middle-aged, short and full-bodied Black woman. She was never limited by her appearance, however, on both the physical and ability-side. Having no superpowers and no advanced combat training (Pre-New 52), you would wonder how someone like Waller could take the daunting task of controlling these powerful and emotionally imbalanced supervillains to do her bidding and the bidding of the US government. The answer is simple: she was a badass.

Waller’s knack for taking new tasks and dominating them resonated with me. This is something I am currently experiencing right now, in writing this for Blavity. I never personally considered myself a writer by trade or skill, but I always appreciated the art of storytelling. The best pieces of work I have ever read were personable and relatable. As I forayed into the world of writing, I knew that those were the kind of stories I wanted to tell. But this was a new arena for me, being in the corporate world. I have been doing both for 6 months now, and I still question whether or not this is even allowed; whether I will either quit one, quit both or burn myself out completely to the point where I stop enjoying it all. But I’ve realized that sometimes the best thing you can do is take the Amanda Waller approach to it: be impossible in impossible situations.

Doing both corporate and creative has been impossible in my world. But I’ve been able to do and experience even more impossible things in this world because of it. In the future, when I face another ridiculous, unimaginable task I believe I will get better at being prepared for the difficult. And if not, at least I can start by asking myself “what would Amanda Waller do?”

Photo: tumblr
Photo: tumblr

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