Move over Batman and Superman, there's a new foundation for the DC Universe.
ComicsAlliance has always been on the forefront of the "impassioned, angry blogger" crusades fighting injustice in the comic book industry. While I respect the heck out of them and usually casually agree with what they're saying, sometimes they go a bit... extreme in their use of hyperbole. Take for example their latest editorial "So There's an Attempted Gang Rape in the First Issue of Amethyst", written by blogger veteran Chris Sims.
Now, I had heard about the attempted gang rape from message board posts and was curious to see what the comicsphere thought of a woman writer writing a rape scene in a comic starring a female hero. Well, the first salvo isn't pretty.
Rape and rape threats have become a cornerstone of the DC Universe.
A bold claim. Here's another one.
[DC has] once again shown themselves to be the Lucy Van Pelt of rape comics, pulling that football away just as soon as you hand over four bucks for the privilege of trusting them not to.
Well there's an analogy that I wasn't expecting.
Anyways, Sims' point is that such a female/young girls franchise probably shouldn't feature attempted gang rape in its first comic. On the other hand, he admits that the comic that hooked him in as a child was an issue of Batman which featured Robin murdering a drug dealer after he drove his girlfriend to commit suicide.
Personally, I do agree that rape is an overused cliche in comics. Alan Moore can't write a comic without rape and (according to Chris Sims) neither can Mark Millar. I'm also not going to defend the retconning of rapes into stories or the overuse of rapes in female origins. However, in the case of Christy Marx and Amethyst, which as Kurt Busiek pointed out had a rape scene in the original first issue twenty years ago, I'm not so sure that this was a typical instance of gratuitous rape for rape's sake.
It's not like sexual assault doesn't happen in high schools and colleges. For example, one of my former girlfriends was sexually assaulted in the confines of our high school and I had to "rescue" another from a overzealous frat boy in college (that rescue attempt involved me calling the cops and having them escort me to the bathroom where she had holed herself up at). Sad as it is, this shit does happen. In my eyes at least, it's good to see a strong female character stand up to sexual assault and prevent it from happening, even if she uses "excessive force" as Mr. Sims puts it. Now, I haven't read the issue, so maybe it's all cliched and poorly written, but as Sims says that 95% percent of the book is good, I sort of doubt it.
Now, did rape need to be used as a way to define Amethyst's character and personality? Probably not. Is it sad that rape is now a cliche in comics? Absolutely! However, if rape is going to appear in comics, I'd rather it be used in this matter instead of the gross, overvictimized bludgeoning that we've been exposed to in comics like Identity Crisis. I'm not going to say that this is an attempted rape scene gone right in comics, but I think that this is certainly preferable to most of the tripe we've been exposed to over the years.
All in all, I can't help but feel that this is an excuse for ComicsAlliance to stir up the blogosphere into a frenzy and use the word "rape" twenty-one times in an article (we tied them in our rebuttal. Go us!) I can only hope that people recognize that in this instance, a character prevented someone from being victimized by sexual assault, which is something we've seen countless times from the likes of Batman, Daredevil, Spider-Man and every other hero who lives in a metropolitan area. Of course, if we acknowledge that point, then we can't say that rape is the foundation of a major publishing company's line of comics.