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Sunday, 04 June 2006


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This makes perfect sense to me.

I don't work on comic books, but I do like to read them. I enjoyed them as a kid, and I enjoy them now.

This post reminds me of Julie of the Wolves. My husband and I both read the book around 5th grade. We both didn't understand the rape scene at the time, but we understood that something bad had happened.


I don't recognize this issue because I haven't stayed that true to X-Men, but I agree whole heartedly with the sentiment, and have always defended, and will always defend, comic books as an art form.

Yes. Art form.

Now, yes, we've got the spandex-clad neandrathal violence-spewing blood-books, we've got the edgy anti-hero antics of Miller, and we have the kooky, accessible and yet still harsh world of Will Eisner, but all of these genres and many, many more are one more means of artists or writers or people telling stories to people. By whatever means. Comic books are tradition for me. My father read them, and he handed the tradition down to me.

I am incensed by those who view them as childish or useless. There is imagination and mythology still taking place in our society and the medium is still vastly underappreciated. So this blog cuts to the core of me.


Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel Percepolis is the Seattle Reads book for the Seattle Public Library.

I think it's a great choice. Like Pierce, I don't understand people who make fun of comics. (Blue Monday is a favorite of mine. I also enjoyed the Sandman comics when they were published in the 1990s.)


Personally, I'm a fairly late arrival to the world of comics, but I'll defend the value of the medium as vociferously as anyone. For one, I've just finished teaching Jimmy_Corrigan as part of a class surveying the history of epistemology, and I know darn well that the graphic element has added something substantial--not to mention fun--to the conversation.


Great post Scott. The "Comic book guys are stupid" post is I think dead on, though, in it's take on the new Bat woman. The post would be better titled, though, "Comic book industry execs take advantage of and encourage some of the worst traits of their male audience in order to make a greasy buck and thus defame the art form." With comics I feel like, I can say a relative has made a big mistake because I'm in the family, it's an insult if a stranger says it. Ditto things like the Bat woman thing, or fascistic elments in The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen - someone who knows and loves the art form is in a different place when making criticisms, as one can appeal to the better elements of the form rather than just dis the whole thing.
Anyway, great story and great example of someone using an undervalued art form to think about the world and stuff. I've had that experience with a lot of nonimpressive music, in a way that's harder (more embarassing, frankly) to articulate than if it had been, say, a Mahler piece or a Proust novel that had changed me.

Wax Banks

Great post Scott - that image of Rogue in the cell gives me chills.

I wonder what a young teenager in a similar situation, just coming into sexual consciousness perhaps, would think of the recent Identity Crisis miniseries from DC, in which - um, ***SPOILER ALERT*** for a year and a half old comic - it's revealed that the wife of Ralph Dibny (the Elongated Man) was raped and as punishment the JLA (I might be getting some details wrong) her rapist's mind was wiped clean. Batman walks in, sees the whole thing, cries foul, and - the hidden emotional focus of the series for fans - they wipe his memories too. And this hidden event then plays out years later when he gets his memories back or something.

The rape of Sue Dibny is played out partially 'onscreen' in the comic in flashback, after she's murdered by the wife of The Atom (for reasons I can't remember). It's a horrible scene.

When the miniseries came out there were, as I recall, complaints about its graphic nature, and the 'secondariness' of the female consciousnesses in the story - Sue Dibny is featured basically just to get raped and murdered, The Atom's wife goes crazy, etc. The tendency of comic-book writers - no strangers to prolonged adolescent fantasies of course - to set up even superheroic women as victims and loons (Dark Phoenix for fuck's sake!) generally flies in the face of any developing feminist sensibility, except insofar as these shabby characterizations enable the reader to engage sympathy first, followed only then by a proactive consciousness.

And sympathy isn't a generative emotion in my mind - empathy is. Your story is a moving one but to me it's a partial illustration of the failure of certain artists to provide an aesthetic framework for generative emathy rather than passive sympathy. i.e. 'I feel bad for her' can as easily provoke a bog-standard 'I must protect her in her spandex and sadness' reaction, no?

(Compare The Authority, or Joss's run on Astonishing X-Men, or indeed any Joss work, or Jeff Smith's Bone, or Dave Sim's early Jaka stories in Cerebus (still comics' vicious magnum opus). But how would a kid these days know where to find such things? I'm saying you were lucky to escape the tawdry world of superhero fantasy with an enlightened sensibility. It's not primary in the art.)

Overall I recommend the Identity Crisis books, by the way. But if you're not an Authority reader, run don't walk and pick up the first two volumes in TPB form.


"I stumbled into a realization: my feminist sympathies were first marshalled while reading a comic back in the Autumn of '88."

This resonated strongly with me.

I can still remember the thrill I felt seeing Wonder Woman and the Bionic Woman enacting physical heroism in the 1970s.

And I also remember the fear and anger I felt as I empathized with Edith Bunker in the episode of ALL IN THE FAMILY where she was nearly raped.

I recall these childhood moments as the times where I started to realize that, as a boy, things worked differently in society for me.

Those moments also helped me when, as a teen, the rowdier boys [today I'd call them abusive assholes in need of juvenile hall] would bully and literally molest me [although we never called it that at the time].

Sometimes one must experience the Other to understand their experience.

Mr. Obvious

Jesus. Get a life. All of you.


I bought this isue back in the day. The cover with Rogue and wolverine strung upside-down was actually petty eye catching. I don't see what's so disturbing about it.

Epoch Traveler

Rape is and has been part of our world. Watch the news. If you are a man you muscle the harshness and protect women. It is sad that this is an issue. Although rape is not something I support, it is however a reality. Yes, even in comics. Death is sad too but I didn't and don't sob about any of the Superheroes dying. It sucked yes but not enough to bust me up inside. The comic writers at least were writing their own ideas unlike the maggots we have writing and making entertainment today.

The point made in that comic was that she was raped and even the Genoshan Officers eyes. He decided punishment was going to be taken. The good guys beat him to it. Mutants are no different than any other race that has been abused because they simply are worthless in the captors eyes. I understood as a child what this was and I also understood why Rouge submerged and Danvers surfaced. You simply were sheltered. Sorry dude but its a fact. Blame mom and dad not the comic writers if you didn't catch a viewing of the news during this time or pick a newspaper. By the way those "feminist sympathies" are really called "common sense". I wish to the gods more people had it. Feminist Sympathies are a myth thinking that women are more empathic than men. Equality at it's best, huh?

Epoch Traveler

James T

Man, Twisty's article title was right!


And you've proven it definitively with your awesomely analytical answer, James. Good show, anonymous internet asshole!


I may be one of the few people who feel the late 80s stuff was Claremont's best writing. This story has always stayed with me, even though I haven't seen it in a few decades.

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