Posts Tagged ‘Comics’

So… for those of you who were expecting me to talk about poetry and ran into that spinning buzzsaw yesterday, I think I should explain what happened – the technical part, and what it meant to me, without rehashing the actual argument.

This all started last Friday night, after Capital Slam, when I sat down to read my weekly comics. In the pile was Avengers 1959 #3. I read it and didn’t like it. (As I said, I am not going to go into the whys. If you want that, feel free to read the last few posts on this blog).

I put it on top of the pile (I rank the books as I read them for Ruthanne. She likes to save the best ones for last. It is just something we do.) She saw it was on top and asked if there was more of the ‘hero as whore’ thing from the last issue. (The previous issue I had been annoyed about the portrayal of a character.) I said nope.

Then I started trying to track down an e-mail address to write a letter of complaint.

When she got to the page in question, with no prompting from me, Ruthanne exclaimed, “Rape jokes?!?”

That was enough confirmation for me that I wasn’t imagining things.

It took a while to track down the e-mail address. First, it was the weekend, so when I went to twitter to ask, those who could answer were not there. On Monday I tried CB Cebulski and he give me what he thought was the right address. It wasn’t. I tried Axel Alonso and he suggested asking Tom Breevoort (as did Cebulski). Breevoort came up with the mheroes address so I wrote my letter and sent it in.

I then blogged it.

I have some readers on this blog, but as I said, they are expecting poetry discussion. Still, I had something to say and I said it.

I figured that was probably the end of that. (I was hoping Marvel would respond to my letter. They have not.)

Later that evening (Tuesday), I read an article on Bleeding Cool about Marvel changing the name of a Deadpool collection so it wouldn’t have the word Balls on the cover. I felt it odd that a company that wouldn’t include the word Balls on the cover of a comic (a MAX comic, by the way, meaning it is for mature readers only) would have no problem with the exchange of a rape joke in a comic that was NOT labelled for mature readers. I decided to point this out to Bleeding Cool, thinking that Rich might like to do one of his mini-features on it. Rather than write out my position on it again, I included a link to my blog so he could read about it there.

Oh boy.

He responded, thanking me, and said he would include it the next day. I assumed he would put up a little post pointing out the hypocrisy (or at least inconsistency).

Nope. Instead the morning ‘round-up’ (a collection of headlines etc. from around the web) included a link to my blog (without the Deadpool Max reference, which is what I thought made it a point of interest to Bleeding Cool in the first place.)

The insults started on a couple of message boards. Had I touched a nerve? More likely I think that some people are so protective of what they like that they had a knee jerk response.

Then the hits to my blog started racking up.

The conversation that happened here upset me a lot more than the morons tossing the insults, because for the most part they did not expose their ignorance with such blatant stupidity. (For the MOST part…)

Instead I saw people defending the comic and claiming it was perfectly okay to make comics in that manner in a book aimed at the general populace. (Again, I do NOT want to rehash the argument here. If you want to argue the point, go back to the last few posts where the dartboard with my face on it is all set up…)

It made me very sad.

There were points when I had trouble putting into words what I was trying to say because it seemed so OBVIOUS to me. It felt kind of like arguing with a racist. How do you explain to someone the damage that is caused by casual comments when they don’t seem to care about that damage?

When REALLY made me sad is that I guarantee that not a SINGLE person defending that stance thought they were doing any damage. (Well, maybe a single person. Some people are just assholes…)

In the end, my blog, which had previously had a maximum number of daily hits of 74, reached 1,520 yesterday… and the vast majority of them (based on the sample I could seen) were there to tell me that I should just shut up and stop caring about the damage done by an industry that I love.

And I do… love the industry, that is.

I am just finding that I don’t love the bulk of the people who READ those comics very much.

(Of the people who took my side of the argument, I believe that only one – Ruthanne – actually reads comics. I still love and respect the people who stood up for me when I stood up…)

This is not all about the reaction to a single panel in a single comic. I understand that not everyone feels the same way about things that SEEM (to me, duh) obvious.
It just made me think about some of the other things I have read on the comic message boards in recent times.

People complaining about the creation of Miles Morales as the new Ultimate Spider-man – saying he was a ‘token’ and that it was all about ‘political correctness’ and (a true low) why can’t ‘they’ have ‘their own’ characters instead of ruing ‘ours’.

People constantly complaining about Jessica Jones (a character who is portrayed as a ‘regular’ person who gained super powers, who later had a baby with Luke Cage and then got married). They call her ugly (because she isn’t drawn like a stereotypical super hero, I assume), they call her a whore (because she had sex with Luke Cage, I assume), they call her… well, they call her a lot of things. Oh, by the way, she is white and Luke Cage is black. Do you think that has anything to do with it? (No? Bullshit.)

People fawning over the art of people whose only ‘skill’ is ass shots, boob shots and crotch shots of female characters. (To clarify, I have no problem with artists who draw sexy women well. Adam Hughes, Terry Dodson, Amanda Connor… The problem is with the Deodatos and Beneses of the business who draw cookie-cutter people but do so while making the women ‘hot’ so they stay popular…)

Anyway… the point is, I love the medium and strongly dislike the community.

So, what do I do about it?

I could just ignore the larger community and just buy and enjoy some comic books. That is a pretty good solution, but I LIKE discussing stuff I like with people who have similar interests. There is nothing odd about that.

So, what am I going to do?

I’ll start by removing Comic Book Resources from my bookmarks. It was my primary news site, but it contains the forum where I saw all of that stuff above. I am not blaming the site, but once the well is poisoned…

I’ll still read Comics Should Be Good (which is affiliated with CBR, but much better…) and Bleeding Cool. I don’t like the forum on B.C. so much either, but I can separate it from the news, which is generally solid.

That gets me news but not much in the way of discussion.

So, here is what I am going to try. I am going to create a new blog (probably called ‘Rusty’s World’, which is what I wanted to call my hypothetical comic store back when I was a business student). On this blog I am going to write about and review comics. (I have enjoyed the ‘ranking’ I do of my comics for Ruthanne. I will expand on that.) Then, I HOPE that some likeminded people will read it and discuss the comics etc. in the threads.

I really HOPE that happens, because reading in a vacuum means you never hear about books you aren’t reading. If you love something and I’m not talking about it, let me know!

It needs to be a new blog, because the bulk of the people reading my poetry blog likely have no interest in reading about comic books. At least I assume that is true.

HOWEVER, I know there are poetry people out there who are into comics. The ‘likes’ I have been getting on Facebook when I list something as ‘Rusty’s Comic of the Week’ tell me that.

The TL/DR version: I’m making a new blog about comics. Come read it if you want. I’ll let you know when it is up.

For now, I am going to go back to being sad at the state of the world.

Rape and Comics

Posted: November 8, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

It is no shock to anyone who knows me that I am into comics. I have been a reader and collector for 27 years and have spent over a fifth of that time directly involved in the industry, mostly in distribution, flanked by two stints in retail. I enjoy comics for all that they offer, despite their occasional journeys into not exactly uplifting areas.

They are getting better, in some ways. Batwoman was a big step forward, as was the new Ultimate Spider-man, but they still lag behind in some areas.

This past week, I bought a comic called Avengers 1959 #3. It is the third issue (duh) of a five issue miniseries. The premise is that Nick Fury gathered a team of ‘heroes’ at the end of the 50’s to deal with a few threats. (The ‘real’ Avengers book was started in 1963, so this would predate that.)

It started as a feature in one of the modern Avengers books, written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Howard Chaykin. This mini is both written and drawn by Chaykin.

There were already problems in this series. A character called the Blonde Phantom is a female spy whose normal purpose appears to be to sleep with enemies to get information. This sterotype is not new and, as I said, comics are not always at the forefront of enlightenment. I didn’t like that, but I didn’t make a fuss either.

In issue #3, things got worse. Blonde Phantom needed to incapacitate two guards. She did so in the cliche fashion – acting flirty and then, when they dropped their guard, knocking them out. The issue here is that the guards discussed (in German, if memory serves) what they were going to do as she approached.

Guard 1: I’ll hold her down.
Guard 2: No, I had firsts last time.

The next panel they were knocked out, never to appear in the comic again.

What just happened there? The writer (Chaykin) used multiple rapes as a joke.

Now, because I have been over this with some people who think there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, let me explain. I understand fiction. I understand characterization. I understand the value of a nasty antagonist. If there is a major villain who they are trying to set up as a particularily nasty piece of work, I can understand why they would make him a rapist. Heck, make him a child murderer and a violator of puppies, if that is what you need to do to make the story work.

That is NOT what happened here. We are talking about two throw away characters that only appeared on two panels. They did not need to give us a reason for B.P. to knock them out. She was already going to do that. No. This was added for ZERO narrative advantage. It existed only so they could make a joke.

A joke about rape.

I have more that I would say but I would be repeating myself. Here is a letter I sent to Marvel Comics, letting them know what I thought about this little comic ‘joke’.

Everything in this letter is true.

I read Avengers 1959 #3 and I feel compelled to do something I rarely do, which is write in to express my disappointment.

I want to give you a little background so that you can understand where I am coming from.

I rediscovered comics at the age of 16 back in 1984. The book that hooked me and turned me into a comics fan was the Avengers. Since that time I made comics my career for a while, working in both retail and distribution. During that time Avengers turned into a quest of mine, as I tracked down every issue, all the way back to #1 in 1963. I now have every Avengers comic ever printed.

That will change next month when Avengers 1959 #4 is released as I will not be buying it (or #5).

What could convince me to stop now? Can you guess what is that comic that would anger me enough to make this decision?

I would HOPE that it would be obvious.

There were already some supect things about the series. I am not thrilled that the Blonde Phantom’s secret power appears to be the ability to have sex with people. That annoyance is hardly new in the industry, so it was not going to be any more than that.

But this issue, you fell to a new low.

A rape joke.

A rape JOKE.

This was not character development. There was absolutely zero reason to have these two guards making jokes about raping women. ZERO. This was not a method to show how heinous they were as their only purpose was to be knocked out one panel later.

Comments about holding a woman down while the other one has his way with her? Stated in a ‘humorous’ fashion mixing the image of sexual assault with an overly-polite ‘no please, after YOU’ comment.

There are IGNORANT people who DO make jokes like this. There are also people who make homophobic comments. There are also people who are racist. There is no shortage of ignorant people in the world… but that does not mean you should publish this sort of bile.

I am NOT saying you can never have a rapist in a comic. I strongly believe that comics can serve as any other sort of art: they can display many different things to get many different responses. If you do a story that includes a rapist, and he is portrayed as a horrible person committing heinous acts and he pays for his crimes… that is part of comics and part of all (crime-based) fiction.

That isn’t what you did here.

You made a JOKE.

If you can explain to me, in rational terms, what was added to this story by having these two THROW-AWAY CHARACTERS make light of such a terrible crime, I will acknowledge it… but you can’t.

How could anyone think that this was okay?

Someone should be fired over this.

Rusty Priske

Ottawa, ON, Canada


No response yet.

Interested in letting Marvel know what you think of that issue?

Sometimes you have to draw a line. Does it seem like intentionally leaving a hole in your collection is a small thing? Well I suppose it is, but not to a collector. (I have already been accused of lying on a comic forum where I stated I would be doing this.)

It isn’t much, but it is what I can do.