Published on ComicVine this week, along with no prior warning about the graphic content it contained (consider this a warning that the same images appear below), was a preview of Lobo #9, from DC Comics and the creative team of Cullen Bunn and Cliff Richards. In the preview (first brought to our attention by forum poster Cavemold), this happens:
Now, granted, this is a Lobo comic, and beyond that a NuLobo comic, and not even my love for Cullen Bunn can get me to read one of those, so I'm not sure if there's some prior context here. But it certainly looks as if Lobo is being raped in these pages.
When rape happens in a comic, it's usually a big deal in the Twitterverse, but I'm not seeing a lot of noise about this on the internet. Is it simply a matter of no one knowing about it because it's Lobo? Is it because Lobo is a man, and there's still a widespread misconception that men can't be raped despite RAINN statistics saying that one in six men will experience sexual abuse before adulthood, and rape being every bit as serious no matter the sex of the victim?
I don't know the answers to these questions, and we don't know what happens later in the issue or what will happen in future issues. In general, when rape is used in a comics story, we hope that it's for a good reason and that its repercussions will be explored later in the story, rather than a shock tactic or plot shortcut. In this case, Lobo is the main character in the book, so at least it's not likely to be used just to affect another character. Hopefully it won't be brushed off as comedy (though Lobo quipping, "it's gonna be hard to top our first date" might be a bad sign). We'll have to wait and see, and hope that the creative team plans to make this count.
If not... well, that counter hasn't been reset in a while, has it?