Monday, 05 June 2006

Comic Book Rape; or What Would You Like Me to Title It? This post isn't a direct response to "Comic Book Guys Are Stupid," but it is a response of some kind. Let me walk you through this one: The year is 1988. I'm a recent transplant to Louisiana and am thus a tad on the introverted side. I spend endless hours reading comic books. I may have like 'em liked some girls at this point, but I see no evidence of it in my fourth grade yearbook. (My fifth grade yearbook is an entirely different, hearts-circling-pictures story.) Point being, I distinctly remember not thinking about nor even knowing what rape was. But I mow my lawn every day—my father having decided to instill the value of hard work by allowing me to earn $4 whenever I want by re-re-re-mowing what my work ethic transformed into a mangy lawn—and so have plenty of money to blow on X-books. So I'm spending my afternoons blissfully unaware of anything which doesn't involve the X-Men or X-Factor or The New Mutants or, if I was desperate enough, Alpha Flight. One late October afternoon I'm holding in my hands X-Men #236. On the cover Wolverine and Rogue are hung by their on a scaffold, flanked on both sides by grinning fools in military garb. (This picture disturbs me more now than it did then.) What happened? The X-Men sacrificed themselves to save the world, only in the end they were granted a reprieve: they would be dead to the world but would live undetected and undetectable in the Australian outback. They were invisible to all forms of electronic recording devices. They were able to move throughout the world invisible to all by the naked eye. (You want to privilege presence? I'll privilege you some presence.) Then a fascist state called "Genosha" clashes with the X-Men. Shit hits fans. Wolverine and Rogue are captured. For those unfamiliar with the comics or the films, Rogue has the power to absorb the memories and/or mutant powers of whomever she touches. So naturally, she doesn't touch anyone for fear of knocking them unconscious and draining them of their "life energy." (Stop sniggering. I was in fourth grade.) Her entire life Rogue has wanted nothing more than to touch someone without hurting them. To be loved. But she's come to accept the fact that this will never happen. This self-sacrifice moves the fourth-grade mind. I sympathized with her despite having no clue as to what she sacrificed or why. I only know that it pained her and, being the good sympathetic identifier, felt her pain by proxy. So without really knowing why I want Rogue to able to touch people. After she's captured by the Genoshans, she's stripped of her mutant powers. Now she can touch people without having to worry about killing them. For a moment I'm happy for her. If only she can get out of this jam she'll be able to touch someone! That's all she ever wanted! Then I hit this panel: And I'm confused. That's Rogue...
The Mirror of Flebotinum; or, Medieval Buffy (Sadly Sans Trolls) [Welcome readers of Whedonesque. For more entertainment, click here and here.] The Little Womedievalist forwards an item of interest to medievalists and Buffy fans alike: For those of you who haven't spent the past two quarters in an intensive paleography seminar, that paragraph opens Hoc est speculum fleobothomie . . . The rough translation reads "this is the mirror of flebotomy." Now a phlebotomy is nothing more than a venous extraction of blood by a trained phlebotomist. But if we pretend medieval manuscripts adhere to some code of regularized spelling, "fleobothomie" almost sorta kinda puns Joss Whedon's infamous "flebotinum." Since he only revealed the existence of this mysterious substance in the commentary track to the first episode of the first season of Buffy, its orthographical heritage is about as pure as what one likely finds in medieval manuscripts. You know, pure as whimsy. Almost every appearance of the word demurs in ignorance. But no one challenges the definition: Whatever technological or mystical or manuscriptical explanation the plot requires. Giles finds a book or Willow hits the web or Xander trips over an ancient relic which just so happens to be the key to resolving whatever conflict the Scooby Gang happened to encounter. Easy enough. But what would "the mirror of flebotinum" be? The dark designs of the writers' collective unconscious reflecting their creative inadequacies and daring them to put pen to paper? Would it challenge writers: "You can't write Buffy's way out of this one!" Or would it whisper the limits of audience flebotinal gullibility? "You can have Willow fall in love online . . . but if you turn her lover into a cyborg demon they'll all laugh at you." I just don't know. Bonus points to the person who can identify the best flebotinum in canonical literature. I have some candidates, but since my memory's now notoriously unreliable, I'll let you have the first crack at it.

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