Mar 11

Rape Should Not Be Just A Plot Device

Aspiring comic writers can learn something important from Brad Meltzer’s Identity Crisis and the books that it inspired. Both Watchmen (which featured an attempted rape) and Identity Crisis (which featured a gruesome full-blown rape) were huge critical and commercial successes. This inadvertently created a strange correlation between rape and commerce and fostered a habit in the comics industry of using rape as a plot device to make female characters more sympathetic or the male characters who save them look more heroic. There is a problem when number of female comic book characters who have been raped since Identity Crisis was released in 2005 now has to be counted on more than one hand.

If you’re going to write a rape into your superhero comic book, be prepared to write it well.

Ask any superhero fan for proof that their genre of choice is to be taken seriously and you will suddenly find yourself holding a copy of Watchmen, which is a bit disingenuous because no other superhero comic is like Watchmen, which was written as a criticism of superhero comics to begin with. So, you’ll need to ask for a second example. Assuredly, it will be Identity Crisis, which is a bit more honest because it features recognizable DC Comics characters like Superman and Batman. And, for many fans, it is beloved in the same way as Watchmen: because it is a deadly serious story that ostensibly treats superheroes like real people with feet of clay…

It’s in the second chapter where the whole thing begins to crumble, via the stupidest, most offensive move in modern comics, where we find out through flashback that a minor villain named Dr. Light infiltrated the Justice League satellite headquarters years ago and raped Sue Dibny. But that rape is a mere plot point and an impetus for the Justice League’s real deep, dark secret…

But that’s not the insane part, nor is the way that the book basically opened the floodgates for a flurry of rape-crazy superhero comics to hit the shelves for the past seven years…

via Danny Djeljosevic at Spectrum Culture

4 Responses to “Rape Should Not Be Just A Plot Device”

  1. oneoflokis Says:

    As one would say in UK idiom: Rubbish belongs in the bin! For you Yanks: Trash belongs in the garbage can! &I hope all these kinds of comics soon find themselves there: rejected by a new generation of Revolutionary Millennials!!

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As a law-student legal clerk at New Media Rights, Shaun Spalding provides pro-bono legal assistance to artists, filmmakers, entrepreneurs and anyone else who creates or shares their work online. If you have any legal questions, you can direct them to Shaun’s supervising attorney. You can tap into what he's thinking via Tumblr, or figure out what he's doing via Twitter: @SASpalding

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